Re: Kid overboad plan
Good points about needing to recover two people instead of just one. We're on Lake Champlain and although we can get 4+ foot waves, we certainly would not be out in the wind that it would take to create those conditions. Even with 15-20 kts of breeze, often we're only seeing waves 1-2 feet because we'll hug protected shorelines. That said, wave action is one reason why my wife wants to go over if the kid does, since we're worried that a combination of going under in the fall, then panicking, then being tossed about in the waves might cause him to take in some water. So at least wife could help calm him and make sure he's not taking waves in the face. By 5-6 years old, maybe not an issue, but at 3 he has no concept of remaining calm in a stressful situation.
I like paperbird's reference to a quickstop within 1-2 boat lengths of the person overboard--that's impressive and I will definitely try this out myself to see if I can achieve similar results. I guess the main point is to practice and see what happens and what works.
Finally, the goal is obviously to not have anyone go overboard ever. But it's never a moot point because it can happen no matter the precautions so it's worthwhile to think about it and plan. I know some people tether, and that's about as much protection as you can get from going over, but really our kid would not like being tethered at all and I do want sailing to be a positive, fun experience. Under certain conditions I can see why you might tether, but for the type of sailing we're typically doing on the lake I think it would be overkill.
Thanks for all the tips/advice, etc!