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 Man Overboard!
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
8669 Posts

Initially Posted - 04/22/2021 :  14:58:07  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Interesting piece by Andy Schell in Sail...

Of course he's talking about ocean passage-making, in conditions that can include big seas and even darkness. But some aspects apply to coastal sailing, small lakes and small boats, IMHO. It can be scary how hard a person's head is to see in weather, and sailing maneuvers that (hopefully) take you back within reach, stationary, are complicated, especially when the adrenalin is high.

My only two personal experiences involved a nephew (8-10) falling off my Sunfish on a small Indiana lake (no motor, no seas, easy circle while explaining why I was going past him downwind); and the skipper of a Hobie 16 falling off on a mountain lake in 25-30 knot wind, leaving me to react. Given the blasting wind, I simply did a quick stop and used the rudders and backwinded the main a few times to drift back toward him.

For general purposes, the quick stop/motor-start/sail-douse is my choice for an M.O.B.--simpler is better. "Littering the water" with cushions or whatever is the very first step.

The article has some other important observations...

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-USCG-OUPV
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

dmpilc
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
4541 Posts

Response Posted - 04/22/2021 :  15:36:34  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I've been involved in 3 MOB, or almost MOB incidents, fortunately never on our C-25, and 2 of these were a little bit comical, to say the least. The first occurred while my wife and I were racing our C-22 in a regatta on a lake near us, which we had been to several times. We had rounded the windward mark, it may have been the second lap around for the wind had died down a lot, I went forward to deploy the whisker pole, and I slipped and fell overboard, still holding the pole. I told my wife to grab the pole as I moved it toward her, and she did, bringing me back to the boat. she took the pole, and I made my way around to the boarding ladder on the stern and got back into the boat. she went back to the helm, while I dried off a bit. I didn't know at the time, but the folks on the C-22 behind us retrieved keys, on a float, that had come out of my pocket. We didn't lose a place in the race. My time in the water was probably less than a minute.
The second, also involving me, was when I was racing with a friend on his C-22 (we raced together all year for about 2 years on his boat, faster than mine!) on another lake. coming around the windward mark, again, I was going forward, grabbed the forward lower as I was moving forward, and it came loose at the pin below the turnbuckle. I went over, still holding the wire. I went in the water to my waist as I tensed my arms holding on to the wire, my hand sliding down to the turnbuckle. I managed to get my knee up over the rail and back into the boat (68 years old!) and secure the shroud with a spare clevis pin, and we continued racing downwind.
The third incident was much more serious. We were racing in the C-22 Nationals on Galveston Bay, last leg of the last race, when a white-out storm hit. I was crewing, along with the skipper's son. while going forward, he slipped and went overboard. fortunately, he was able to grab the rail and stay with the boat. Wind was howling, so that one could have been catastrophic. Life jackets and boarding ladders are essential!

DavidP
1975 C-22 SK #5459 "Shadowfax" Fleet 52
PO of 1984 C-25 SK/TR #4142 "Recess"
Percy Priest Yacht Club, Hamilton Creek Marina, Nashville, TN
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glivs
Admiral

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USA
770 Posts

Response Posted - 04/25/2021 :  17:01:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks for posting Dave....situational awareness is a must especially as so many accidents seem to occur due to complacency or a sense of familiarity, especially for those of us in the 70+ club. This past week a tragic accident occurred locally. A healthy and active couple who have lived on the water for decades took advantage of the weather to take their grandson fishing on the stream near their home. It was a calm, warm day, the stream is about 20 yds wide but water temps are still in the low 40's. In hindsight, it appears their boat capsized. The grandson was wearing a pfd and swam to shore where he was soon discovered but the two adults who were not wearing pfds apparently succumbed to the cold water. They knew better.

Gerry & Leslie; Malletts Bay, VT
"Great Escape" 1989 C-25 SR/WK #5972
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Voyager
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
4720 Posts

Response Posted - 04/27/2021 :  06:50:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow. You’re right, this is a very sad story. Cold water is particularly dangerous in the spring when air temperatures and bright sunshine may provide very comfortable conditions, the water in April and May remains deadly cold.
I used to offer a Kayak Safety course through a community organization and my two most popular sessions were in April and October. It consisted of a classroom session and a pool session with boats in the water.
My main message was cold water can kill you in two ways: (1) immediate cold shock when you enter cold water you involuntarily breath in forcefully. Get a lung-full and you’re gone in a few minutes. (2) hypothermia - if you survive the splash, then you’ve only got 20-60 minutes of exposure time depending on water temp. A life jacket will help.
The grandparents in your story probably got cold shocked and drowned. PFDs might have kept their faces above water. You never know.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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JoeRobertJr
Deckhand

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18 Posts

Response Posted - 04/28/2021 :  12:11:44  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Dave, for that article link and your vote for the quick-stop => start engine => drop sails => motor around for the recovery.
I've been wrestling with strategy lately. I memorized "close hauled => quick stop, reaching => figure 8, broad reaching => BRCR".
Practicing last year, it was easy to get back to the victim under sail, but really hard to stop there. And then the flogging sails and whipping sheets seemed hazardous besides just creating so much noise it was difficult to focus on getting the victim aboard. I really like this idea of taking the sails out of the equation, assuming the engine starts. I'll be out on the water this weekend practicing that. 

Joe Robert
C-25 SK/SR #4287
Orefield, PA
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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
8669 Posts

Response Posted - 04/28/2021 :  22:22:21  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I agree on the issue of sails when you (hopefully) arrive back to the victim and need to get him aboard (a challenge of its own)--that was part of my decision. (Just be careful about the propeller!) And while a line with floatation can be dragged around the victim and then used to pull him to the boat, that assumes the victim is conscious and capable. But sometimes the incident includes unconsciousness or other impairment.

Whatever strategy anyone chooses, on a fairly windy, choppy day, toss a hat in the water and give it a try. A cushion is a little too easy to see and to retrieve (going past with a boat-hook). A hat is a better test for spotting, keeping in sight, and maneuvering to a position for what can be a tricky recovery. If you lose it, well......

It's also worthwhile to figure out how you would get an unconscious, injured, or even physically able person (hampered by clothing) back aboard. One step is, from the first moment, to put out a Mayday call. The USCG or marine police could be critical to retrieving an injured or unconscious victim. Unless you have immediate assurance from the victim he's "OK", you just don't know. The call can always be cancelled, but "Mayday" is for life-threatening situations, and this can quickly be one.

An important motto for all mariners is, "The water wants to kill you."

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-USCG-OUPV
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.
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bigelowp
Master Marine Consultant

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1563 Posts

Response Posted - 05/02/2021 :  11:52:57  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"It's also worthwhile to figure out how you would get an unconscious, injured, or even physically able person (hampered by clothing) back aboard."

Thats the real issue. A few years ago when my son was a sailing instructor in college some of his friends did a man overboard drill using my C25. All were healthy/hunky guys who, after 45 minutes of attempts realized getting to the person was not the issue but getting them back on board was. Cruising World did a similar drill with Herb McCormick being the in water "victim". Even with all the combined expertise of these seasoned offshore sailors they admitted that getting a person -- large or small -- back onboard requires a plan and lots of practice. As I "mature" I worry more about these things than I did when closer to my son's sailing buddies age!

Peter Bigelow
C-25 TR/FK #2092 Limerick
Rowayton, Ct
Port Captain: Rowayton/Norwalk/Darien CT
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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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USA
3823 Posts

Response Posted - 05/02/2021 :  11:58:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's a big advantage that boats with swim platforms and sailboats with sugar scoop transoms have over a boat like ours.

Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound


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Stinkpotter
Master Marine Consultant

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Djibouti
8669 Posts

Response Posted - 05/03/2021 :  06:13:41  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Two issues come to mind regarding a rescue at the transom:

1. Pitching in the waves--a sailboat's transom tends to slam up and down, while along the side the hull movement is less of a threat.

2. Propellers kill. The motor, particularly an outboard, will have to be cut before the victim is close. Anyone who has put their "little" outboard in gear while testing it in a barrel has witnessed the suction power of that little propeller. People learn the hard way every year.

I'll repeat my recommendation to get on the VHF immediately and get help. By all accounts I've heard, it's hard--maybe nearly impossible depending on the condition of the victim and the capabilities of the people in the boat. The USCG and marine police are equipped and trained for it. If they arrive and the person is already in your cockpit, well, everyone can celebrate!

Dave Bristle
Association "Port Captain" for Mystic, CT
PO of 1985 C-25 SR/FK #5032 Passage, ex-USCG-OUPV
Now on Eastern 27 Sarge (but still sailing when I can).

Passage, Mystic, and Sarge--click to enlarge.

Edited by - Stinkpotter on 05/03/2021 06:16:14
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