Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: SF - South Bay
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Re: Man over board
First rule is stay on board - MOB is not as easy as it looks, and requires a well-practiced helmsman.
Lifesling works best, but you need to know how to set it up. We set it up to the main halyard; I always worry about setting up to the boom, as I am not sure if the topping lift can be trusted in this situation.
Also note that there are two lifesling tackle options, 3:1 and 5:1. The 3:1 relies on a winch - it is what I have, and works very well for lighter weight/weaker rescuers.
There are other options. On many boats the swim ladder is not an option - mine is tough enough in calm conditions, but in a new Catalina with a swim platform, that can work. We also tried running a docking line from a cleat to a winch, the person stands on it while they are winched up; that works, but the person in the water needs to be very alert.
Given your concerns - and likely your wife's - the best thing to do is to practice. Try a few things out; if both you and she are comfortable with a technique, it will give you both peace of mind.
And don't fall off the boat!