There are several factors that dictate priorities, but the primary instigator is usually a circumstance which requires an action.
Here’s an example: Ellen MacArthur discovered the main generator, which powered the self-steering and navigation computers aboard ‘B & Q-Castorama’ was using too much oil. This circumstance brought about a priority for Ellen to rectify the fault.
She knew full well that if she couldn’t solve the problem her record attempt would be over. Resourceful, as ever, she came up with the idea of using a secondary, but less powerful generator. Unfortunately it caused her cabin to overheat, which in turn led to a new priority – the need to extract the hot air and fumes. Characteristically, she found a solution; it was to lead some flexible piping from the generator to the exterior of the trimaran.
On reviewing the amount of fuel required to run the generator she calculated there might not be enough for her to complete the circumnavigation. This new situation created yet another priority - the need for a solution. Undaunted, her remedy was to reserve rape seed oil she had intended to eat with her dried food as a lubricant!
As sailors, on or off the water, what are our priorities?