Navigation is no small feat. A hundred minute details have to be tended to upon the water to ensure that any ship, large or small, makes it safely to her designated destination. In fact, it's a wonder that Washington Irving's lyrical vision of travel on the seas ever became a reality. So much can go wrong that it boggles the mind. And I'm not just talking about the past here, mates.
This article from Yahoo! News is a good and abject lesson on what not to do in a boat of any kind. An English gentleman, whose name is mercifully withheld, decided last month to take his motor boat along the British coast from Medway to Southampton. His plan, which seems simple enough on the face of it, was to keep the land to his right and thus navigate safely from point A to point B. I know I don't have to tell you that it doesn't quite work that way.
Our intrepid mariner made it out into the estuary of the Thames and then things went wrong. Mistaking the Isle of Sheppey for the coast proper, he began to circle the 36 mile island repeatedly until his motor ran out of fuel and his boat ran aground. When the coastguard arrived they found, I do not hesitate to say most probably to their amusement, that the gentleman had only a road map to navigate by. Robin Castle of the local lifeboat station is quoted in the article as saying:
It seems he didn't have the usual maritime charts or navigational equipment.
British understatement is breathtaking sometimes. At any rate, no one was hurt - not even the boat - but pride must have at the very least stung. I have to hope that this gentleman has learned his lesson and that at least some rudimentary study in navigation will be attempted prior to any further maritime adventures. Or maybe he'll just bring along an old Thomas' Guide next time and figure more pages means better information.
Some people should never even look at the World's waters, much less sail upon them.