Yes Yes YES!
Originally Posted by JonEisberg
Finally, after 120+ posts, somebody finally gets around to alluding to the most important bit of safety gear aboard any boat...
Namely, that little bit of grey matter between the sailor's ears... (grin)
A discussion such as this is certainly valuable, of course... However, the focus on "gear" and gadgets never ceases to amuse, when was the last time you saw an article in one of the glossy sailing rags about how to move safely and deftly about the deck at sea? An increasingly vestigial skill among sailors, thanks to things that eliminate the need to do so (lines led aft, for example), or features that diminish one's Situational Awareness (full cockpit enclosures, to name another)...
...You want to keep yourself from falling off the boat? Never, EVER make a move that places you at risk without reminding yourself that if you go over the side, you're a dead man... ALWAYS visualize that you're sailing alone, that the edge of the deck represents the edge of a 1,000 foot cliff, and that the lifelines are charged with 600 volts of alternating current... NEVER, if at all possible, go out on deck in a hurry, especially at night... Be patient, observe the wave patterns and motion of the boat, in much the same fashion you might sit outside an inlet in dicey conditions for awhile, before beginning your approach...
I know I'm a broken record about the poor deck ergonomics of many modern boats, and the necessity of keeping decks clear - but IMHO those factors represent the greatest danger in contributing to a potential MOB situation... I just have to shake my head in wonder, at the incongruence of running jacklines along side decks lined with jerry jugs of diesel fuel, and all manner of other Kroozing Krap I see boats burdened with...
But, perhaps most importantly, Have No Fear of venturing out of the cockpit, embrace whatever opportunity arises to do do... In other words, Practice moving about your boat in boisterous conditions... How ironic, that many seem somewhat desperate to reduce the need to ever venture forward, when we all know that at some point - usually in the most difficult of conditions - one will be compelled to do so... Seems akin to expecting someone who never, ever drives in anything but a blizzard, to be really competent at doing so... (grin)
Get over the obsession with the gear and gadgets, staying on the boat is all in your head...
Can I get an AMEN BROTHER!!!
The SINGLE BIGGEST CONSIDERATION we had when looking for a new boat was safetly on deck. We wanted clear side decks. If the shrounds went to the middle of the side deck that boat was off the list. We wanted high bulwarks, and not to have to climb on top of a sloped cabin top to reach the mast.
Fairhaven is missing many things from our original wish list (like a center cockpit and aft cabin) but these were sacrificed when we saw a boat with wide, clear side decks, handholds ever where you would want them, treadmaster non-skid, high bulwarks and mast winches that can be reached from the deck, not cabin top.
I used to single hand f(for years) without a tether, but I moved about the boat like I do at the edge of a cliff. I have only ONCE used my lifelines to stop me going overboard and it is still my biggest bonehead move ever. Still gives me chills.
While I enjoy engineering tether concepts on my non-sailing days, I rarely feel I need on aboard, racing or cruising. Once, in a storm (not gale, storm) in the straits of Juan de Fuca, I didn't have a tether or attachment points, but felt I needed them. I went below, got a drill and a U-bolt and drilled an attachment point into my cabin top. I then used some rope and 2 carabiners to make a tether.
For those who fear leaving their cockpit, I would say that they have poorly designed boats, or not enough skill moving about a boat. Join a racing crew that races in the off-season (winter) to build you skills moving about a boat at extreme angles of heel without a tether. It's a very VERY good skill to have.
Photo of Fairhaven's deck. Notice the bulwarks on the sides. Notice the wide, clear decks with treadmaster. Notice that the mast winches can be reached from the deck. Also notice the handles, exactly at hand height, on the cabin top for use while moving forward. Also notice the pretty girl who was my girlfriend when this photo was taken (now my wife) as we delivered the boat down from Bellingham after we bought her.