Boat Cards (What If's?)
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          Because our memories were no longer what they used to be, when we started cruising we made up a bunch of 4x6 file cards on various subjects that simply listed in sequential order the steps to be taken to accomplish a task that we did infrequently or tended to forget, and for emergency situations. These cards were pulled out and reviewed as needed. The cards supplemented our standard operating procedures for the more routine activities of the cruising life.

One hand for Bill, and one for the boat          Those reference cards that were related to safety were pinned on a corkboard beside the nav station, and reviewed with people who came on board to crew for a while. Other cards were clipped to the front of a lexan wall pocket (bought from an office supply store) that was screwed into the bullwark above the nav station, and which held some small laminated charts to track weather systems on with a china pencil, and clear plastic sleeves/envelopes holding: the inventory; hurricane preparation references; the maintenance schedule; quick reference cards we got from the Red Cross describing what to do if someone chokes, has a heart attack, or stops breathing. In front of the stack of these cards was a card with a sign in big letters that says "Don't panic. Take five deep breaths, and feel them in your belly. Relax your body."

          When we lacked experience we went to school on reading about, and practicing mental "what if..." situations. Mental practice was an important aspect of keeping the Black Box filled. As the ocean crossing neared in spring of 2004, these cards were revisited and revised while re-reading and reviewing the advice from various Reference Texts. The checklists were then typed up and stapled together with a table of contents at the front. The packet was then put in a plastic sleeve, marked with red electrical tape for easy grabbing, with one copy above the Nav Station and another in a plastic wall pocket in the main cabin. (A copy of the Departure and Storm Preparation checklists were also laminated, back to back.) These emergency procedures were reviewed with guests as part of normal preparation before passage making.

          Sad to report , though, we collected the occasional Stoopid. This is what we got when we forgot to think through the "What If?s" for a given situation before we acted. Kept us humble. Cruisers with enough points in the Black Box can hope that, like us, their Stoopid's won't be fatal.

"Even the Gods are helpless against stupidity"


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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on June 19, 2008
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