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KISSING COBRAS

Iím not afraid of snakes...I respect them.  In the same way, Iím not afraid of the ocean, but I respect it.  When you respect something that is potentially dangerous, you increase the odds of survival if problems happen.

At the Siam Snake Show in Phuket, Thailand, I watched a snake handler place his index finger into the mouth of a non-venomous snake.  He didnít get bitten and the snake didnít seem to mind.  I mustered my courage and placed my index finger in the same snakeís mouth.  I must admit, putting a finger in the snakeís mouth took me far outside my comfort zone.

Later in the show, the snake handler kissed a lethal King Cobra.  This was definitely a Ripleyís Believe It Or Not experience.  Not in a thousand years would I have ever expected to see anyone kiss a King Cobra.  To me it seemed impossibly dangerous and foolish, but to the cobra handler, it was all in a days work.

Now if I had asked the Cobra Kisser to sail my yacht across the Indian Ocean, he probably would have said, ďNo way mate.  Itís simply too dangerous to sail in a small boat across such a big ocean.  Iíll stay here at the snake farm where I have financial security and I know that Iíll be safe.Ē  People who kiss cobras donít know anything about sailing across oceans, and to them sailing the seven seas seems far too dangerous.

Kissing cobras and sailing across oceans are both exercises in risk management.  If you manage risk properly, usually you donít get hurt.  If you donít take risks seriously, you put yourself in harms way and problems occur.

Although they say everyone has a price, no amount of money could induce me to kiss a King Cobra.  Sailing across the Indian Ocean is a completely different matter.  You donít need to pay me anything to sail the seven seas; I will do it for free once I have done my risk management.

Risk management is mostly common sense.  Take storms for an example.  Only a fool totally ignores the weather and sails directly into the jaws of a tropical cyclone.

Cyclones donít just appear out of the blue.  They take time to form, and after they form, they send warning signals to tell you they are there.  A cyclone creates large ocean swells that travel hundreds of miles in every direction.  If you experience a large ocean swell that is not explained by prevailing wind and weather conditions, you know that there is a big storm in the direction from which the swells originate.  The cyclone is sending a warning for five hundred miles in all directions, and if you pay attention to the warning, you will stay out of harms way.  Thatís the way mariners have avoided tropical cyclones for the past five hundred years.  Thatís how they did risk management before they had satellite photos and weather fax.

We use a lot of technology to do our risk management.  Before we make an ocean passage, we check out weather satellite photos of the region where we are heading.  If the satellite photo shows bad weather, we donít go.  For the Indian Ocean we go to the internet at www.fnmoc.navy.mil and we look at the infrared satellite photos of the Indian Ocean.  Web sites also show wind speed and direction, significant wave height, and weather maps.  We donít rely on a single source of weather information because they may get it wrong.  We always consult multiple sources to make sure we are on the right track.

Once we head offshore, we contact other boats by high frequency radio to see what the weather is in their area.  We also listen to Richard who runs the Southeast Asia Maritime Mobile Net at 0800 at 14323Mhz.  Every morning Richard gives the weather for all of Southeast Asia and the North and
South Indian Oceans, all the way to the Red Sea.  He gives us real time information on the weather in our location so that we know what to expect, and he warns us that we need to head in a different direction when bad weather is ahead.  Once a day, Richard sends us an email giving the significant weather in the Indian Ocean.  He has grouped all of the boats heading across the Indian Ocean into what he calls, ďThe Red Sea GangĒ, and he supplies everyone with weather by email all the way up the Red Sea.

Here in Thailand and Northern Malaysia, there are about a thousand cruising yachts.  Several hundred of them will cross the Indian Ocean as soon as Richard gives the green light.  When the green light comes on, there will be a mass exodus.  Some yachts will do the southern route to South Africa, and others will do the northern route up the Red Sea and into the Mediterranean.

No matter which direction they head, all of them will tell you that they would rather sail across the Indian Ocean than kiss a cobra any day.  They understand the risks, they manage the risks, and they are willing to do whatever it takes and live with the consequences.  Thatís as it should be.  After all, they are living their dreams.
 


Log 1 Peter Pan Around the World
Log 2 Weapons of Mackerel Destruction
Log 3 Pirates of the Malacca Straits
Log 4 Kissing Cobras
Log 5 Debriosaurus Rex
Log 6 Go Ahead - Live Your Dreams

Log 7 The Man Who Built His House on a Rock
Log 8 Ambivalent Eagles
Log 9 One-Shovel Full at a Time
Log 10 Hitchhiker's Guide to Planet Earth

Log 11 Keeshond

Log 12 The Red Sea Blues

Log 13 Feel the Freedom

Log 14 The Danger Zone

Log 15 Lucky Man
Log 16 Dream Machines - Land Rover Defenders

Log 17 Trade Wind Dreams
Log 18 Logs With Fins
Log 19 Everywhere, Everything
Log 20 Shark Slayer Is History

Log 21 Viking Funeral - Burial at Sea
Log 22 Improbable and Impossible

Log 23 Keep on Trucking
Log 24 Dream Machines II
Log 25 Bodysurfing Whales
Log 26 Hitting the Wall
Log 27 Surviving the Savage Seas

Log 28 The Next Step
Log 29 Welcome to Barbados
Log 30 Atlantic Rally for Cruisers
Log 31 The Man with the Unplan
Log 32 Dali Dolphins
Log 33 Flying Like a Turtle
Log 34 The Foolish Man Built His House on a Pitch Lake
Log 35 Go West Young Man
Log 36 Crossing the Atlantic in a Row Boat
Log 37 The Unsinkable HMS Diamond Rock
Log 38 Catamaran Capsize in 170 mph Winds
Log 39 When Are You Coming Home?

Log 40 Master and Commander of Anegada - Frigate Birds
Log 41 Baths of Virgin Gorda - Batholiths of Central Arabia

Log 42 Free at Last
Log 43 Stalking the Wild Manatee

Log 44 Spreaderman
Log 45 Attack of the Flesh Eating Bees
Log 46 Sharks and Coconuts
Log 47 Stingray Picnic
Log 48 Boo Boo Hill
Log 49 Whale Slayers
Log 50 Noddies (Not Naughty)

 

Log 51 Exumas Land and Sea Park
Log 52 David and Goliath
Log 53 Turquoise Clouds of Paradise

Log 54 Momma Nightjar
Log 55 Maximillian The Great
Log 56 Chiton Kingdom
Log 57 Flying and Holding On
Log 58 Far Horizons
Log 59 Clouds Are a Sailor's Friend
Log 60 Getting Connected
Log 61 Fear
Log 62 Grand Schemes and Other Important Things
Log 63 If Jellyfish Had a Brain
Log 64 Cousins That Don't Kiss
Log 65 Swimming With Sharks
Log 66 Perfect the Way You Are
Log 67 Space Travelers
Log 68 Aliens
Log 69 Monsters of the Mind
Log 70 My Butterfly Collection
Log 71 Somewhere Other Than Here Societies
Log 72 Five-Hundred Pound Spiders
Log 73 Red Sea Sunsets
Log 74 Gibraltar Sunrise
Log 75 Big Sea - Small Ship
Log 76 Just Cruising
Log 77 Castle Mania
Log 78 You Must Know the Sea
Log 79 Flying Like a Goat
Log 80 The Joy of Photography
Log 81 Universal Camouflage
Log 82 My Rainbow Collection
Log 83 Indian Ocean Reward
Log 84 Fiber W
Log 85 Turkish Reflections
Log 86 Mirrors and Mirages
Log 87 Lycean Tombs Rock
Log 88 Rigging Emergency
Log 89 Pamukkale
Log 90 Volcano Land
Log 91 Sniffing the Air
Log 92 Why I Don't Kite Surf
Log 93 Resurrecting Exit Only in Turkey
Log 94 Greased Pole Competition
Log 95 Tsunami Damage
Log 96 Afraid of Living
Log 97 Living on the Edge
Log 98 Borneo Adventure
Log 99 Uligamu Tree Tender with Full Benefits
Log 100 God's Fireworks Display

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This web site is a companion to Outback and Beyond.com.

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