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!
THis is a great thread and glad you started it!! Take everything here as it is meant (positive).
Like SvHylyte, we raised (and still do) our kids on board. What life jacket are you using? For young children or any who do not know how to swim, I believe Mustang is the only way to go. They float the child head-up, have a crotch strap, and a grab line to pull them out (the latter being a big deal, actually as they are hard to grab when overboard and accounting freeboard).
Here is a pic of our kiddos with the Mustang:
It is one of the best pieces of safety gear we have ever purchased kid-wise. And - it works! We have had our kids go over twice, but both times was at the dock. I have never had our child go in under way. Underway, we keep a constant watch on them and in anything but good seas, they must stay in the cockpit or (when it gets bad especially) down below.
I firmly believe that teaching your child to swim can save their life. This was a high priority for us (esp as cruisers). They will go into the water, eventually, and very possibly without a jacket on (walking down the dock). Knowing how to swim is critical. It can also help in KOB situations.
If you sail at night, I also believe the kids (and adults) should have a auto-strobe and a whistle. We keep these on the kids. THey are a bit pricey, but it gets cave-dark at sea and in the wind you cannot hear someone cry out. I think it is made by ACR and is rather small with a strobe on top that is water activated. They also make a flashlight for MOB that we carry. THe little orange whistles are dirt cheap.
Another thought (and different subject) that we always try to do is point out where the ladders are at a marina and what to do if (when) they fall overboard. Some marinas have them, some dont. THe one we are at now does not so we have instructed them where to go to be safe until someone can help them out. ALso, check out the ladders that they would use as exits because many are heavily encrusted with barnacles that can cut little feet up. In some cases, it might be better to have them hold on and cry out for help.
I really like those Raymarine MOB's. Cool stuff (finally they come out with something novel). Not sure if you have to have Raymarine products to use them... but if I was doing a lot of offshore sailing, especially where one parent typically singles, they could sure help the offwatch to get some solid sleep. They are on our list.