Saturday, October 15, 2016

Man Over Board - Practice your rescue!

This is from SAIL magazine:
There are several ways to get a person back on board. While they differ in their steps and approach, they all have a few things in common. The first thing that should happen is that the crew is made aware of the situation by someone hailing, "Man overboard." Immediately after that at least one person on the boat should take over as the spotter. This person does nothing else during the recovery other than point at the crewmember in the water. Other crewmembers on the boat should immediately throw any available flotation at the victim as well as activate a Man-Overboard Module, if the boat is equipped with one, and activate the crewmember overboard button on the GPS. A calm, level-headed approach to recovery is always better than something that resembles a fire drill, and the more you practice, the better you will get.

The figure eight method

1. Regardless of which point of sail you are on when a crewmember falls overboard, the figure eight method starts with yelling "Man overboard," throwing flotation devices and appointing a spotter.
2. The helmsman should immediately either head up or bear away (depending on which point of sail the boat is on) to a beam reach.
3. Sail six to eight boatlengths on a beam reach.
4. Tack and immediately bear away from the wind to a broad reach, but only briefly until you cross your wake.
5. Head up to a close reach, ease the sheets and pick the victim up on the leeward side with speed between 1 and 2 knots and sails luffing.
Pros: The figure eight method is a classic approach often taught to beginning sailors on smaller vessels. Since it does not require a jibe, this method eliminates the potential danger of an uncontrolled boom flying across the cockpit and banging somebody in the head or damaging the rigging.
Cons: The biggest concern is the requirement of heading six to eight boatlengths away from the victim before returning. Considering the only thing the spotter might see is the victim's head in the water, unless the victim is waving, it would be easy to lose sight of them at such distances, especially in rougher conditions or when sailing offshore.

There are other things that can go wrong with the execution of the figure eight method. Often the helmsperson will not immediately head up or bear away to a beam reach or won't remain on the beam reach long enough, either of which will throw the whole thing off. They might otherwise stay on a broad reach for too long, wind up too far downwind of the victim, and then have to tack once or more to get back. Even when accomplished flawlessly, retrieving the victim from the water at the prescribed speed of between one and two knots is a challenge. Practicing with a buoy is one thing; a real person is quite another. If the victim in the water is unconscious, this drawback alone could be fatal.

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