Reality has a surprising amount of detail - John Salvatier

Thought this was a very good article.

From the article:

That’s how I came to spend a substantial part of my teenage years replacing fences, digging trenches, and building flooring and sheds. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this building, it’s that reality has a surprising amount of detail.

Deliberate practice is mentioned in the comments.

Followed a link to this:

Similar theme as the book "The Knowledge Illusion"

This is a great line from that post: It’s a small world, but I’d hate to have to paint it.” —Steven Wright

An old joke apparently but I’d never heard it.


Illustrates why experience on training vessels is still needed, rather than just “full mission” simulators. The program in a digital simulator is carefully designed to test what you think you know. Whereas actually going out in a boat teaches you what there is to be known.

Example: I once led a group of trainees practicing terrestrial/radar navigation aboard a training boat on the BC Inside Passage. Could have done the same thing in a digital simulator. But it wouldn’t have been as valuable, because of the unexpected.

We were going through the narrowest part of Race Pass when the steering system failed. The steering pump was OK but low voltage to the system. The batteries were tested before voyage departure, and they could hold 14V for a few minutes after taking them off charge, but they were four years old. We had been dealing with following seas that voyage, making the rudder work extra hard, putting a strain on the batteries, accelerating their decay. We had been noticing voltage drops…

So, no steering, and a grounding just a a few minutes away. (Race Pass, with heavy currents and lots of traffic, is NOT a good place to drop anchor.)

This is the perfect sort of training exercise: the situation you never anticipated. The trainees have to diagnose the problem under real pressure and solve it. What other 12V batteries are aboard? Take the starting battery off the standby generator and hook it up. Work fast with tools. Don’t rely on others to help you. They had the system running in a few minutes.

The trainees will never forget that unanticipated lesson of how to diagnose and repair a steering problem. But the real lesson: reality has a surprising amount of detail, best sorted out ahead of time by realistic training.