Man Overboard

In general, if a person falls overboard from a boat, they only have a 50% chance of being recovered, and even less if it is very rough weather. Consequently, it's very important to take every precaution to prevent this from happening.


(I) PREVENTION

  1. No-one steps out of the cockpit unless another person is in it, particularly at night.
  2. When going out of the cockpit in other than calm weather, wear a life jacket. Use one of the lifejackets with the AIS PLB's. Attach tether to harness and jackstay if it's at all rough.
  3. Always keep one hand for yourself. Do NOT hold onto the lifelines; use shrouds or fixed handholds.
  4. Always put on shoes when going forward from the cockpit.
  5. At night, the person on watch wears a life jacket with tether attached to a cockpit padeye.
  6. Remember that if you go overboard you have a 50% recovery chance–so long as someone sees you go. If no-one sees you, you're dead.

(II) RETRIEVAL

  1. If going into the wind the Helmsman immediately does a Quick Stop (Hove to). If going downwind then turn round into the wind at a safe speed.
  2. Press and hold the MOB button on the Chart Plotter.
  3. Alert all the crew.
  4. Deploy the danbuoy equipment.
  5. One person (if available) keeps the MOB in sight and shouts encouragement to him/her
  6. If within reach throw the throw-rope to the MOB.
  7. Turn on the engine to manoeuvre the boat and reef the sails.
  8. Check if the AIS PLB appears on the Chart Plotter
  9. Throw the MOB Recovery buoy overboard and circle the MOB.
  10. Once the MOB has hold of the MOB Buoy head into the wind near the MOB. Be very careful not to get the line near the propeller. If it's at all windy come up with MOB to leeward to provide protection. Put the engine into neutral to avoid hurting the MOB.
  11. Pull in the MOB to the boat stern to the swim ladder.
  12. If the MOB is unconscious or needs help, another person puts on Life jacket with a long line tied to the boat, and then--carrying flotation and a second line--swims to the MOB to bring him/her back to the boat.
  13. Consider launching the dinghy if there is time.
  14. Bringing MOB back on board:
    1. MOB climbs swim ladder, with or without assistance, if able;
    2. Drop a line over the side with a loop at both ends, led to a halyard and winch on board. The MOB steps on this line while it is winched up. MOB holds onto the line and keeps his/her legs straight and feet together. (This is called the Elevator Method)
    3. MOB is hoisted up using a halyard (like sack of potatoes) MOB must be able to attach halyard to his/her harness, if MOB doesn't have a life jacket then he/she should put MOB horseshoe round himself–or have it put around him/her, and attach the halyard to MOB horseshoe
    4. Drop the storm jib in the water (attached to the boat at all 3 corners) and roll the MOB onto the sail, then haul him/her up in the sail.
    5. Drag the MOB into the dinghy and then when sufficiently recovered transfer on board.

(III) ACTION BY MOB

  1. If Life jacket doesn't inflate automatically, try pulling the manual cord and if this does not work then blow it up manually
  2. Do not try to swim, except to get to the Dan Buoy, MOB Retrieval Buoy or to retrieve the throw rope
  3. Put the MOB horseshoe under the arms and close connect strap. Save your energy, wait to be pulled in by the crew on board.
  4. If the MOB doesn't deploy, grab whatever flotation is available, and conserve energy. Get into the HELP position to maintain body heat
  5. Remember you have a strobe light and a whistle on your Life Jacket. Use them if necessary.
  6. As soon as you get the throw rope, tie it to your harness lifting rings with a one-handed bowline (you've practiced this, haven't you?)

(IV) AFTER RETRIEVAL

  1. Treat MOB for shock and hypothermia
  2. Go to school on what happened and take preventive action for the future.

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This page was last modified on: January 31, 2013

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