Port & Starboard

By admin ~ December 12th, 2008. Filed under: Features.

The ever-opposing viewpoints of

Jay Coyle and Dudley Dawson

Should extreme sailors be

charged for their rescues?

$ave your$elve$

says  Jay Coyle

I have nothing against folks who fashion themselves as daredevils or get high on challenging common sense. That is, as long as my tax dollars aren’t used to extract their bacon from the fire. The government doesn’t provide Sherpas for old, out-of-shape geezers like Dudley who try to prove something by crawling up Everest. Taxpayers weren’t the spotters for that nut who strapped a jet engine and a wing to his butt. Given this, I actually have some respect for these people. Not so for boneheaded blow boaters who attempt to race overpriced, underweight sleds with sails around the planet by their lonesome selves. When reality strikes, they simply hit the panic button on their EPIRB. The unfortunate country that is closest will likely send its overworked, underpaid Coast Guard, risking its equipment and crews to save these folks from themselves! Some would reason that saving those who attempt such stunts provides valuable training to rescue service personnel. Baloney! These good folks have plenty to do as it is. The way I see it, anyone who tempts fate in such a fashion should have to pay [bear a cost], if things go sour. Otherwise…it is simply a matter of natural selection!

Not so fast

says  Dudley Dawson

Jay, “simply a matter of natural selection” is a bit harsh, don’t you think? I understand your frustration with these sailing sleds, but that’s beside the point. Boating rescues are part of a continuum that starts with thousands of neophytes going out in ill-equipped little boats on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and extends to the other extreme of a few well-prepared adventurers who attempt the seemingly impossible. And it’s not just the extreme sailing or pleasure boating crowd: How about the commercial fishermen who head out into rough winter weather just to put crab claws on your dinner table? In each of these cases of “challenging common sense,” a percentage will run into trouble and call for help. Whether it’s a hundred mundane rescues costing a thousand dollars each or one spectacular search costing a hundred grand, the brave men and women of the Coast Guard, state marine patrol and local rescue services are going to respond, sometimes putting their own lives on the line in the process. Would you demean their sacrifice by having them stand by until the check clears the bank?

Editor’s note: Jay Coyle and Dudley Dawson, AKA The Battling Bickersons of Boating, enjoy nothing so much as lobbing broadsides at each other from their vantage points as contributing editors to Southern Boating. You can play along by writing to

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