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  •  Vigor's Black Box Theory on Survival (1+ / 0-)
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    Crashing Vor

    From a diary I posted a few months ago...

    Now that natural disasters are at the forefront of our thoughts, there’s plenty of discussion of emergency preparedness. Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and other disasters seem to strike randomly, and even in a given community, one house might be destroyed while the home of a neighbor is unscathed. Some might argue that preparation against such capricious forces is a waste of time: either it’s going to hit you or it’s not.

    Those of us who don’t subscribe to this fatalistic view are busy preparing for upcoming emergencies. We download a checklist.  We buy and stash away non-perishable food, water, medicines, flashlights, batteries, first aid kits, and other items to sustain ourselves, our family, and our pets. We hold periodic family drills and maintain a communications plan. We buy weather radios or set up alerts. We fortify their homes, pack up our vehicles, or maintain a “go bag”. We evacuate or hunker down in a safe part of their house.

    Our “default condition”, though, assumes that our life on dry land is generally safe, except for occasional of natural or man-made cataclysmic events. Once we’ve made our preparations, it’s back to our usual routine, until the next warning of impending danger. Safety, for many of us, is a “checklist” rather than an ingrained approach to everyday living.  

    Life on the ocean – whether for recreational or commercial purposes – is another story.  On the ocean, even a calm day can end in disaster.  The sea is capricious even in the best of times. Add in some strong winds, high seas, lightning, mechanical problems, human error, illness, or injury, and there’s almost unlimited potential for negative outcomes. How is it, then, that some boaters survive against these odds, while others do not?

    John Vigor’s “Black Box” theory explains with elegant simplicity why some boaters seem to have “good luck”.

    "There is no such thing as fortuitous luck at sea. The reason why some boaters survive storms or have fewer accidents than others is that they earn their luck by diligent and constant acts of seamanship.

    "Aboard every boat there's an invisible black box. Every time a skipper takes the trouble to consult the chart, inspect the filters, go forward on a rainy night to check the running lights, or take any other proper seamanlike precaution, he or she earns a point that goes into the black box. In times of stress, in heavy weather or other threatening circumstances where human skill and effort can accomplish no more, the points are cashed in as protection... Those skippers with no points in the box are the ones later described as unlucky.

    "The skipper has no control over the withdrawal of points, and once points have been removed, then the skipper must immediately start to replenish their savings, for the sea offers no credit."

    Vigor’s Black Box theory has plenty of relevance for life on land. Every little thing we do – fixing loose boards on the porch, checking the dates on the canned food in our storm shelter, testing flashlights and battery powered radios, verifying the phone numbers of police and fire departments, picking debris out of a storm drain, printing out directions to the hospital or community emergency shelter, removing dead branches our fine old venerable trees, keeping bike helmets, boots, and gloves in a handy spot…

    All of this and everything else you do will go into your “Black Box” for a time when

    “human skill and effort can accomplish no more”.

    You cannot enlighten the unconscious.

    by cassandracarolina on Thu Aug 25, 2011 at 11:59:45 AM PDT

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