How Safe is Safe?


We are not a particularly fearful family.  We camp, travel, leave windows and doors open all summer.  I was the parent who got in trouble from the school (3 times) for allowing my 7.5 yr old to walk the 6.5 blocks home alone.  I finally got frustrated with their judgement and suggestions that he was not safe to walk alone.  I suggested to them that I was less afraid of him being abducted than hit by a bus or repeatedly struck by lightening, and so made him walk an extra half block that made him cross at a light.  They huffed at me, but never stopped him from walking home again.  Yes, I am that parent, we are that family.

Brent has sailed a lot.  He has Salty Tales; of surviving through a hurricane, crazy crew, crazy owners, of southern cafe owners explaining that he can’t eat here but as he clearly “wasn’t from around here” -kindly sending him across the street where he was “supposed” to be, of breaking things, of fixing things, sunsets, sunrises and amazing stars and, of pirates.

As a new to cruising family–really a “wannabe” cruising family;  How do we evaluate cruising grounds?    In particular with regards to safety? Where strangers trying to board and steel and or where violence are a more regular occurrence.  I’m not suggesting no care and vigilance, but relative safety levels.  I roughed out this blog over a week ago now, and since writing it I have seen two violent acts reported (a fatality in South America, and abductions in the Philippines) within the cruising community.  Some of the blogs we follow are, for example, in Madagascar, have traveled through Indonesia, some have come through waters that are “known” by “landlubbers” as definitively unsafe.  How do we separate the information from infographics that show areas of risk, but are they applicable to a family sailing?  To vessels that are small, and not loaded with cargo?

Yet I know these experienced sailors, some with families, are not all risk taking, thrill seeking, adrenaline junkies out pirate baiting.  They know more, know differently, have more current information, local information.  How do we join this club of knowledge?  **As I edit this post, I remember another example of those doing exciting things in questionable places, read one of these kinds of stories here  I want to question “what is the safety plan?, what do those nuts and bolts actually look like?”  These are conversations I will have.

I am learning a lot from reading various blogs, and following group discussions.  Understanding that politics can change quickly at times, and that media has a way of twisting and or exaggerating situations.  I want more info.  Hot spot maps? reporting sites?  Is the connectedness within the community of knowing, something that comes once we are there, living it, constantly immersed in sailing.  I am perhaps, impatient.

We will continue to research.  To watch, read and learn.  Even the armchair version of this life is amazing.  Tick-Tock.

impact of somali piracy

2 thoughts on “How Safe is Safe?

  1. behan - sv totem

    Hey guys, thanks for the shoutout and link to my post on Madagascar. We’ve cruised in a number of places that were “risky”, based on some combination of external reputation and someone’s judgment with actual events. But we’d never take our kids cruising in an area where we really felt there was a meaningful risk to their safety. How do we figure out what to do, where to go, and make those decisions about staying safe? There’s no secret handshake or monolithic source of info, we really take each place as it comes and research it independently. There’s not a single approach that works, because each region has different causes or dynamics, and so different things to make sure that you do (or, avoid). What happened in South America is totally different than what happened in the Philippines, and each are really unique in risk profile from piracy near Singapore or off Somalia. ONE example is our approach to staying safe in Papua New Guinea, a country with a reputation that makes many crusiers go around and avoid it altogether:

    I’m not sure that helps answer your question, but maybe it offers some perspective.

    1. Ten Hands On Deck Post author

      Thanks! We love reading about your adventures, and you seem to have many similar perspectives to us–though we are late to game in comparison. Thank you for sharing so much of what you do and how you do it. All the best, Pia


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