A while ago, I read an interesting article about the Black Box theory. I filed it away in my memory banks but recently I came across it again. It had to do with accumulating "points" for doing something proactive and "seaman-like" in preparing or maintaining your boat. Rather than elaborate further, or be accused of plagiarism, I'll point you to the original article, here.
I have experienced the very thing that John Vigor refers to numerous times over my boating career. I always assumed it was just plain old luck. But after growing up in a boating family, and learning proper preventive maintenance and seaman-like practices under the expert tutelage of my father, I think maybe it's the Black Box points keeping me safe.
Many years ago, when I was sailing one of my first boats that I officially owned (prior to that I sailed boats owned by my father), I had taken my Hobie 14 sailing on the Gunpowder river. The ramp at Gunpowder park has a very small beach next to it which was bordered by a retaining wall made out of rocks. At the end of the day's sail, I was approaching the beach to get the boat ready for the trailer. The point of sail I was on was dead down wind. Due to the layout of the ramp and the surrounding geography, I was unable to come in at a different angle. Just as I was about to make landfall, the wind shifted slightly and I jibed unexpectedly. This caused the boat to change course and I found myself suddenly heading for some very ugly looking rocks. I immediately threw the rudder over hard to avoid hitting the rocks and guide me back toward the sandy beach. To this day I have no idea how I managed to avoid crashing that day. I can only assume black box points of some kind.
Which reminds me - I need to go to the boat soon and give her some TLC.
See you on the water!