I soon learned this mental exercise was aka the “worst case scenario drill”. An exercise where crew members review their actual decision-making and actions shared with each other just in case of an emergency. We were asked to consider what if:
our mast fell down?
we ran aground?
someone fell overboard?
a sail ripped?
lightning struck our mast?
a fire consumed the galley?
a crew member broke a limb or cracked a rib
a crew member needed immediate medical attention?
our rudder broke?
our boat started to take on water and sink?
a sail fell overboard?
Of course, we did not develop an elaborate plan with designated tasks to coordinate any rescue effort for each scenario. Maybe that would have become the ultimate "fire drill" preparation. That kind of effort would have helped us avoid going at tasks with cross purposes or duplication when and if any near calamity actually occurred. Role-playing circumstances and rehearsing situations would also have been our next step for ultimate readiness. One always hears about how people's unpreparedness caused even more confusion and havoc. Obviously good communication, coordination of efforts and readiness are essential.
As it turned out, our race to Bermuda became the calmest and longest in duration on record. Despite the fact we started racing with spinnakers with a favorable northerly, light southerly breezes dominated for most of the 5 days voyage. Of course, this all made the restless crew secretly actually yearn for some of the worst case scenarios.
One time when we doused the spinnaker at night too fast, it fell into the water and got sucked and stuck under the bow for some precious minutes. Beside the glorious sunrises and sunsets, that mistake was the only real excitement we experienced the whole trip. Sometimes a fairly frequent activity like taking down a spinnaker can create a mess. Sometimes it is the man-made flops and flaws are the ones one should be most prepared for. It took us three crew members to come to the bow to haul up the submerged sail. That wasn't one of the what ifs that we envisioned.