Toms Tips About Evaluating What You Read
By Tom Neale, 7/12/2007
1. Reports, articles, opinions and experiences of others (including us) may help, but they should never replace your own use of prudent seamanship.
2. When you read a product evaluation, see if it, or other sources, gives you the experience level of the person(s) who made the evaluation and the protocol they used if they rate products.
3. Just because some one says they tested various products doesn’t mean that’s the bottom line and that you should cease studying the issue before you make up your mind what to buy. Not too long ago we read a lot of hype about an anchor rating test with results that were simply ridiculous based upon our experience. Look for hidden agenda, flawed protocol, inadequate sampling and the type of and depth of experience of those doing the rating.
4. When you read a navigational report, such as whether a particular spot is a good anchorage or how to go through a cut or inlet, check to see if the person reporting was just there once or a few times or is very experienced with that particular spot or issue. Don’t give it undue weight and carefully investigate yourself. For example, someone can go through an inlet for the first and only time and find plenty of water, and therefore report the inlet to be fine. But he may not know that if he had been a few feet to the left or right he would have been aground or that if a swell had been running it may have been breaking all the way across.
5. Always evaluate what you read as to your boat and circumstances. The best anchor winch for one type of boat and circumstances may not be the best for yours. The best chart plotter may not be the best for what you do. A good anchorage for one boat may be far too small or too shallow or too open for yours.
6. It usually helps to draw on the knowledge of friends and acquaintances who’ve “been there done that.” The boating community is great for the help it shares with others. But consider the experience level of those friends and acquaintances also. They may have the very best of intentions but not the necessary experience.
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