Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Messing About In Boats

This year's coastal inadequacy season appears to have got off to a flying start with a 25-ft yacht crashing into rocks just off the Isle of Wight en route to Plymouth.
The boat had no safety equipment, Mr Trejbal was navigating with one page from an atlas and when he was rescued he thought he was 30 miles away - in Southampton.
Ah yes, the old page-torn-from-an-atlas navigation technique so beloved of Darwin Award hopefuls - though a little outdated now, perhaps, given the availability of car sat-nav systems.
It is not known where Mr Trejbal, who is a Czech national, set off from but it is thought he eventually wanted to travel to Turkey.
Such is the wonder of modern technology that it took me only a few seconds to establish that this would entail a journey of around 3,200 nautical miles - taking well over a month in a boat of that size - including a cut across the notoriously rough Bay of Biscay; a tall order indeed for such an ill-equipped expedition.

It's not the first incident of its kind and certainly won't be the last. What always puzzles me is that the possession of a road atlas or vehicle sat-nav suggests that, while on land, at least, these people fully appreciate the importance of having some tangible aid to navigation.

Truly the incompetence of mankind knows no bounds - especially at sea!


  1. One damn fool in 1492 tried to go to China the other way round and then look at what happened.

  2. Trial and error. If the errors have no serious consequences there will be more trials on a similar basis.

  3. "...the possession of a road atlas or vehicle sat-nav suggests that, while on land, at least, these people fully appreciate the importance of having some tangible aid to navigation."

    He was probably confused by the absence of signposts on the high seas...

  4. This requires a post tomorrow. There actually are regs - COLREGS - in British waters and the RYA lays down safety standards, along with the maritime authorities.

    This man was operating outside of those regs, not unlike an unlicenced driver. However, having said that, there is no specific "licence" one needs to hold and sailing in this country has a long tradition of madness.

    That's how we sailed around the world. As with bike riders, I'd hate to see us bound by licences and licencing fees - Britain has stood aside from that for so long.

    So it's a case of the sailor not regulated but the boats very much so. This man did not comply - he'll be in trouble.

  5. Demetrius - it would certainly have been better for a lot of people if he had turned left instead of right.

    AKH, it all seems a bit rough on those appointed to fish out the maritime equivalent of Longrider's 'God Never Intendeds'.


    Julia,given the recent call for traffic lights at the water''s edge, to stop pedestrians being cut off by the tide, it can only be a matter of time before someone is calling for it.


    Thank you, JH - the trouble with individual freedoms at sea is how much corresponding freedom the rescue services have to say, "Better drowned than duffers".

  6. James I don't see where he broke the COLREGS, and there aren't any rules about construction-and-use (other than the hated EU Leisure Craft Directive, which only matters at times of build or sale) so the only trouble he might be in is if the rescue services sue him for their costs. Which they tend not to do because it encourages people to wait too long before calling them, leading to worse and worse situations.

    But he's a tosser all right, and it's tossers like him that will eventually see us bound about with stupid rules and regulations. Some do-gooder will get it through eventually, which I deplore as much as you do.