ASSESS THE SITUATION
From your fallback position, take time to assess the situation and examine every possible contingency.
It’s rare for adversity to be so great that there aren’t many alternative ways of responding. There is a high probability you have enough control over the situation so that you can select an acceptable response to the setback rather than have a single course of action dictated by your adversaries.
Before we sailed our boat up the Red Sea, we had to pass through the Gulf of Aden, a body of water notorious for pirate attacks against cruising yachts. Each year, several yachts are attacked by pirates from Yemen or Somalia. There is no way to go up the Red Sea without first sailing through the Gulf of Aden; it isn’t optional. Everyone transiting this area has to assess the situation and come up with a plan for how they are going to manage the risk associated with acts of piracy.
Our assessment told us we had three options. First, we could forget about sailing through the Gulf, and instead sail for South Africa where there isn’t a problem with piracy. The second option was to sail right up the middle of the Gulf seventy miles offshore. The third option was to ignore the piracy risk and sail wherever we wanted.
After assessing the situation we were fairly sure we could manage the risk using option two. We sailed seventy miles offshore, straight up the middle of the Gulf of Aden, and our conservative approach worked fine. It took thirty six hours to sail through the danger zone, and then we were free to sail wherever we wanted.
We formed a convoy in Oman so we could travel in the company of other yachts as we sailed through the danger zone. We also went to considerable effort to sail down the middle of the Gulf of Aden, staying seventy miles from Yemen and seventy miles from Somalia. The boats that followed our plan made the trip without a problem. Two yachts who deviated from this plan and sailed closer to Yemen were attacked by pirates.
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