Hazards of small boat cruising

This isn’t a discourse about surviving heavy weather, dragging anchors or running aground. Those are sailing hazards not cruising hazards and we can, mostly, cope with those.

No, the real hazards come from functioning in a different, unfamiliar, environment.
For instance, a few years ago I walked into a laundrette in the Bahamas and found a dozen cruisers slopping around up to their ankles in water while they loaded and unloaded washers and driers and tucked their fluffy clean laundry into backpacks for the trip back to the boat. Then I noticed the crudity of the electrical connections, the tangle of cables creeping out of uncovered junction boxes, and wondered what the chances were of the mass electrocution of the patrons – me included. In the first world we’re protected from such situations by regulations and standards – we need to be careful not to assume those same safeguards are in place in less traveled parts of the world.

In Dominican Republic we traveled three-up on a 60cc Suzuki trail bike and with 18 other passengers crammed into an 8-seater Mitsubishi mini-bus. It was all part of the adventure and we loved it, but a road accident could have had devastating consequences.

Anchored in the Bahamian Out Islands we listened on VHF to a call for help for a lady who had contracted ciguatera, a very distressing condition caused by eating contaminated fish. Fortunately she recovered after being air lifted to hospital.

Another potential hazard is robbery – the theft of your outboard motor, your dinghy or, more frighteningly, being mugged for your wallet or purse. I must point out that in all my years of cruising I’ve never been robbed and never felt threatened in any way but there’s no getting away from the fact that robberies have and do occur and they are a hazard of this way of life.

I’m sure you get the point – travel away from the beaten track and you’ll find yourself in an alien environment that requires a different level of caution. But, whatever you do, don’t let that stop you from setting sail on your adventure of a lifetime.