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    About a fine book (and avoiding risk).
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2005 Jun 8, 12:02 +0100

    I've greatly enjoyed reading "Antarctic Oasis- under the spell of South
    Georgia", by Tim and Pauline Carr (Norton, 1998), and feel the urge to
    recommend it to list members.
    The Carrs arrived in South Georgia in 1993 in their engineless 28-foot gaff
    cutter Curlew, then 100 years old. They were to take up the post of
    curators at the Grytviken whaling museum, living year-round on the island,
    aboard Curlew, either alongside in Grytviken, or exploring the island's
    harbours and coves.
    The text, I thought, was a bit over-the-top, here and there, but then
    clearly South Georgia is such an extraordinary environment, which has
    enchanted the Carrs, that's only to be expected. But it's mainly the
    photos, of the teeming wildlife, the wicked mountains, the icebergs, and
    the blue bays. In which, if you look hard, you can usually see a tiny image
    of Curlew, sails aloft. Quite stunning pictures!
    What I find important in such a book is the quality of the mapping that
    goes with it. Wherever the Carrs travel around the island, you always have
    a sketch-map that shows precisely where they are, and picks out some of the
    (many) dangers to avoid in that inhospitable world.
    Where the Carrs are now, I have no idea. They may still be at Grytviken,
    but Tim must be in his sixties now. Perhaps they have moved on. Does any
    list-member know?
    What particularly interested me was the story of Curlew, a Falmouth Punt
    which has been much un-modified by the Carrs to return her closer to her
    original state.
    Relevant to what we have discussed here recently is their attitude to
    safety, and the equipment they carry. No engine, just sails and a sweep, to
    get out of dangerous corners. No electrics then, no electrical equipment,
    no radio, no electronic navigation. No liferaft, just a wooden dinghy.  No
    stanchions or safety-lines. Paraffin lighting and heating. About the only
    concession to modernity is the Aries vane-gear: that's about the only
    difference from the way Slocum was equipped, in his craft of about the same
    Some may regard that attitude, in such unforgiving waters, as folly, as Lu
    Abel described the Smeeton's voyages. I do not. I envy their guts. It
    allows a different sort of cruising, in which there's no technical
    maintenance called for, nothing but some carpentry skills. That's how
    Slocum could be so self-reliant.
    It also calls for real seagoing competence, which the Carrs seem to have in
    plenty. And it needs a different attitude to risk than our modern
    civilisation wants to accept.
    For hundreds of years, sailors have gone to sea in the realisation that
    they were rather likely to die there. Ships were more likely to end their
    lives by accident rather than old age, and the same applied to their crews,
    if they avoided disease.
    Our lives are going to end sometime, so if it happens at sea, is that so
    much worse than elsewhere? Such a fatalistic attitude is unacceptable to
    many today, when risk, it seems, has to be avoided at all costs. But to
    some voyagers, it's more acceptable to perish out there, on their own,
    rather than put others at risk by radio-ing up for a search and rescue.
    To many, part of the spice of sailing (and presumably other sports too,
    such as climbing or caving) is some element of real risk involved, even if
    nowadays we go to such lengths to minimise it. Some accept more of that
    risk than do others, and I respect them for it, even if my own sailing is a
    lot more timid.
    contact George Huxtable by email at george@huxtable.u-net.com, by phone at
    01865 820222 (from outside UK, +44 1865 820222), or by mail at 1 Sandy
    Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

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