Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Sailing Movie, " All is Lost", is True to Its Name

I was excited to see a sailing movie, so my Boating Buddy, Too Tall Tom watched with enthusiasm in another city. This is the result, A Tale from Two Cities. From another city, Too Wide Tom chimes in with his 2 cents worth. This movie is Too Tall and Too Wide, so we are letting Robert Redford and his yacht sail into a sinking hole and stay there.....

Too Tall writes,
I really wanted the movie “All is Lost” to succeed.  I hoped it would not cut corners, be sloppy about sailing, create unrest in sailors, that the movie producers would hire knowledgeable consultants to keep the movie true to sailing.  But, alas, it was for naught, all was lost.

I talked to my blue water sailing friend, Hira, who sailed her Swan 36 from Hawaii to Tacoma,Washington her Albin 25 from Astoria, Oregon to Tacoma, Washington and has an additional  8,000 miles of fresh and brackish water under her keel.  She was even more livid at the movies gross mistakes than I was.

As we talked about the movie a couple of times on the phone I began to get more “enthused” about the movie.  OK, now I realize that what I saw was only a form of entertainment and should be accepted like professional wrestling  and that certain liberties have to be taken to create excitement in the audience.  The many reviews have gotten on board with this approach and applaud “man against the elements, creative survival, and man’s will to survive.”

I say the main character, as written, is incompetent and wonder how he got to that part of the ocean without falling to other disasters of his own making.  Let me start our list of things wrong in the film.  The excitement in the movie could have continued even if these problem areas were addressed.

The writers must have gotten a beginning list of things that could go wrong on a boat and slapped them together in a mismatched series of events.  I think the real life actor-sailor from the 40s and 50s,  Sterling Hayden, if alive and offered the part, would have turned the part down as being silly as it was written.  Even any of the old time movie actors who had even a basic  sailing background might have said no, thanks, but an actor usually takes the money and runs.  


1.  He never puts on a life jacket.  What part of a basic boating class did he miss?  Of course the ending would have to change if he had his PFD on.  This is where my frustration began to mount.

2.  He does not have a back up hand held, water resistant, VHF radio.  The movie could have him calling on it when the large ships pass him by …but, then he would be saved and no movie.

3.  He calls out “SOS” on voice.  SOS is only used with Morse Code and “Mayday” came into use in 1927 with voice. Mayday is international in use.  SOS is not.

4.  Most VHF radios have an automatic Emergency channel to continuously transmit a distress call when activated.

5.  Why would he lift 50 pound battery to the slippery topside?  Either leave them in  place and run short wires or place them in the cockpit. Take the radio to the battery, stupid.

6.  At what point did he discover he needed to go up the mast?  The antenna connection was not visible from the deck.  And there was no boat roll, the ocean was flat.

7.  What was the reason for showing his silver and turquoise ring?

8.  Why did he shave?

9.  He did not have a already prepared Abandon Ship bag filled with survival equipment.

10.  His life raft was stored up forward and had to be dragged through the cabin.  The bag seemed way too small for the size of the actual inflated raft.

11.  The fiber glass patch needed two more layers and some strong backing securely attached on the inside of the hull.

12.  The paint brush would have been stiff by the time he finished his work and not useable for the second application.

13.  When a hull is damaged  it usually happens behind cabinets and inaccessible areas, not right in plain sight.

14.  Where was his automatic bilge alarm?  And bilge pump?  And his manual bilge pump handle?

15.  He should have awakened like a shot with the first impact of the shipping container.  He gets up so slowly and not a lot of surprise to find  the floor is awash.  Come on, folks.

16.  Where was his self steering vane on the aft of his boat?  Don’t tell me he has been steering by hand for thousand of miles?

17.  You don’t attempt to put storm sails on at the height of a storm.

18.  Why wasn’t the sails ripped out of his hands?  No wind during a storm?

19.  Why did the steel shrouds not need cutting after the mast broke off.  Only one fiber line? Come on, he would need bolt cutters and the deck would have been a jungle of wire.

20.  The turn turtle would have been more violent and wet.

21.  His misuse of the companion way boards was awful.  He was adding for trouble.

22.  The solar still produced too much water.  They are very  inefficient.

23.. His setting fire to everything was just plain awful.  I was fuming by then.  Please don’t tell me he went for broke and set fire on purpose.

24.  He should have tied off on the shipping container.  It was more stable and safe than his life raft.  It would not catch fire, also.

25.  Salvage some of the tennis shoes to burn later.

26.  Many sailors would be talking to themselves or muttering copious amounts of cuss words.

27.  His VHF radio was installed down low on a shelf ready to get wet.

28.  Why go back for the sea anchor?

29.  Why bash into the shipping container with the bow?  Better to have come along side gently and tied off with fenders.

30.  How did the fresh waster container, already full of fresh water, suddenly become fouled?

31.  Why did he give up fishing when one fish was lost?

32.  He could have retrieved all his canned goods from the sailboat which contained liquid, canned peaches, beer, etc.

33.  His turning the raft over was way too easy.

34.  In that humidity his straw hat might have been limp and floppy..

35.  His sextant in a box and never used.

36.  EPIRB is where?

37.  His use of the hand held flare was unsafe at best.

38.  Missing top of mast wind vane

39.  Tie to and stay with the shipping container.

40.  He uses the safety harness sometimes.

41.  Has gel battery and is good

42.  Only three flares?  Most sailors have a supply of out of date but perfectly usable flares.

43.  Placed the open knife on the bottom of life raft.

Never light a fire in the middle of your life raft, as it will catch fire,collapse and you will be treading water without a life jacket. Then and only then can you truly say with confidence, "All is Lost.". Thank you gentleman for your comments and may our next sailing movie be better.