Subj: life sling final
I think the best way in most situations is a quick circle back to the MOB with a downwind approach. This usualy allows for more a controlled aproach. Below is a summery of MOB systems I wrote for an aol discussion board a few months ago. More discussion on different aspects of MOB systems will be valuable.
I have used the standard life sling that West Marine sells for some years now. While working on commercial dinning yachts I have drilled with these systems hundreds of times. This system has some important features and limitations that should be wholly understood prior to purchase or the feeling of security sets in once the sling is on board.
First of all it only works with a conscious person who has the strength and awareness to use it properly. A panicked, injured, or hypothermic person will not have the ability to grab, and dawn the sling.
Second, there is considerable block and tackle to rig correctly, and to work properly. A well trained crew who practices regularly can overcome this, but small mistakes foul the whole operation causing an ugly mess and an unsuccessful rescue. This is likely to happen when new crew is being used.
Third, Although it can be done, single person deployment and operation is difficult. Once again practice is key.
There are other things of concern, like how much more pulling effort it takes when the tackle gets twisted and otherwise fouled. Also, I have been swung around dangerously when being hoisted up while the boat is lying to in the trough. If the system is rigged to a halyard from the top of the mast the pendulum arm is very long! Even if the tackle is rigged down to the minimum required height above the water line (8''feet????) the potential for swinging is real. [ the swinging can be dampened by using a tricing line however it is one more thing rig and to foul the gear). There is also injury from just being lifted. I have been lifted many times, both while in a wetsuit, and wet street clothes. This lift can really hyper-extend the back. A MOB would most certainly choose a potential back injury to staying in the water, but this is a problem.
The biggest advantage a life sling may offer is an easy, safe, effective way for the MOB and the rescuers to make "first contact." I define first contact as some means of connecting the MOB to the boat, such as a ring buoy with a lanyard or simply a boathook to the MOB. In bad weather, or when other distractions make maneuvering close to the MOB dangerous and difficult, the life sling provides a simple way to make first contact. To do this you simply throw the sling out and stream the lanyard behind. You then circle the boat around the MOB until they can grab the line. At this point of first contact you can then lay to and pull the MOB to the boat with all way off and engines in neutral. At this point you lift them up.
A totally different MOB retrieval system that I really think would work well is described in the February 1999 issue of my favorite sailing rag, Latitude 38. It outlines a way retrieving the MOB by using a long handled, large mouth fish net, which is normally used for landing fish. To modify the net for MOB use, you simply add a few tricing lines in a bridle configuration attached around the rim, so when the halyard lifts it up with a lot of load it does not bend the aluminum frame. The tricing lines can be taped in place along the rim with masking tape during storage as to prevent fouling. The long handle provides for roll control as well as accurately scooping up the MOB. Also, little people (kids, pets) may be able to be pulled in directly without using the halyard as a hoist.
Although I have yet to try this method for MOB''s I have used this method for brailing fish many times. I think that this should be easy to deploy, and allow for much better control of the MOB. In addition, this method will work on unconscious and injured people who cannot help in rescuing themselves.
A complete MOB system might include a through line, and or sling, to make first contact, and the "fish net." Your procedure when seeing a MOB would be to Point Yell and Mark. ( CONTINUALLY point at the person, Yell man overboard, and mark the spot with anything that floats). Then deploy the sling, and circle MOB. Establish first contact, and pull the MOB to the boat. Then scoop''em up!
As a captain and safety officer I have given much thought into questions concerning MOB in relationship to passenger safety while aboard LARGE (180'') and smaller (60'') yachts. Some problems are unique to larger boats and some to sailboats. I am more informed and practiced with larger power boats. Regardless of what you are captaining it is very important to talk and practice because it makes us all better sailors. I would like hearing more discussion of this topic as I currently am in need of a good retrieval system for my personal sailboat. I plan to assemble the MOB system I described in September. I will let you all know how it works out.
Sorry about the run ON''s but it is late!