BEST RESCUE TIP: Stay on the boat!

Published on March 26th, 2013

By Joe Cooper, WindCheck
Man overboard! There can be no more penetrating cry heard aboard a boat. Thus drills, techniques and equipment for recovering a M.O.B. are at the forefront of any seminar on offshore sailing. We are all admonished to wear life jackets when afloat, but a life jacket does not help us stay on the boat.

I was ruminating on this as I drove home after presenting a Safety at Sea seminar at West Marine in Stamford, CT. I was struck by the notion that all the discussion about M.O.B revolves around what to do after someone has gone into the drink. There is precious little on how to stop going in the drink in the first place. Reflect on things that might cause someone to “fall overboard,” I came up with the following list.

1. An appreciation of the environment in which you are sailing. This includes the size of the sea, the frequency of the waves, the kind of wave pattern of the wind waves on top of the ground swell, cross swells, and the boat’s movement including pitch, roll and yaw.
2. Is the boat under autopilot?
3. Age and relative fitness of the person.
4. Their experience in waves and wind.
5. The degree of integrity of the lifelines.
6. The course relative to the wind, reaching or dead downwind.
7. Is a preventer rigged?
8. What the person is doing, or going to do, and with what degree of urgency?

Since staying on the boat is obviously such a large subject and embraces all sorts of things, I comment only briefly on these eight. – Read on

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