Marine Emergency Training
I had the chance to sign up for a Emergency Marine Environment training class last Wednesday. I mainly signed up to do it with my wife who had little boating experience as opposed to my 40 years of being on the water.
Let's face it, when I fall off or get in trouble who is going to help? It is a required course for people who go up north fishing in Alaska. As a mater of fact the actual "Deadliest Catch" boat was near by.
The reason for this post after a day that started at 7AM and ended at 8 PM. I see many people around my moorage that have spent thousands on emergency equipment or have not and should but have no idea how to use it to save their life or others. I will be glad to write more about my day so others can learn later on. I was a tired guy, the Coast Guard was great, I enjoyed looking like gumby, the water was cold, and I have the knowledge to extend my life and others.
I urge that we keep this post I started alive AND TALK ABOUT IT.
It was an eye opener to me, and I have had some emergency situations I lived through in the past. WOW!!!!
Yep, cannot agree strongly enough.
There is formal training, that is important. There is informal, ongoing training, that you make a part of shipboard routine and practice. And there is discussion and workshopping (usually done as fun "what if" discussions).
Only when all three are in place and part of the context is the very nifty and expensive safety gear likely to do you any good(or even get thought of, when something sufficiently serious hits the fan).
After several years of working rescues with our volunteer coast guard, and being in several entirely too REAL situations myself, it is truly astounding how many really well equiped sailors get into trouble because when they have been mentally battered about and thrown into a box where not much more than panic lives they just totally lose track of having the tools for self rescue close to hand or confidence in using them. They just want to be saved....because they have literally run out of "script" to follow.
Courses such as you describe provode additional scripts for situations most of us hope we never have to face.
I was going to write this rambling bit about the other day, where we took some new friends on board. I introduced my nearly three year old son and told them he was the boat's safety officer. I meant it. It's a good story, but I would mostly be telling it as a proud father rather than as especially pertinent to this topic....except for my point about ongoing informal training.
Lifejackets worn? Oh yeah...no one nags, pleads and guilt trips like a 2 1/2 year old to make you do the smart thing you know you should be doing anyway....
I agree wholeheartedly. I took the "Safety Equipment and Survival Procedures" at the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners Association last spring for work (research vessel in Arctic); and I highly recommend taking that class or another much like it.
Donning survival suits; righting overturned life rafts, etc. Lots of fun and valuable skills to be had.
When my wife and I sail off into the sunset in a few years I'll take it again, and have her attend as well.
Hi all - this is a long post - sorry!
I have to share this because I agree 100% with the posts so far. I
use this when I teach the Boating Class.
Rik & Linda Hall (we wear or Mustang inflatables!)
Does Crew Overboard equal dead crew?
I sent out this email to one of my sailing listservs. Included are some of the replies.
(1) Greetings. I been messing about on boats since 1950. I have
taken Basic Boating, Piloting, Advanced Piloting, Off-shore Cruising,
Seamanship Sail and some others. I teach Basic Boating and tomorrow
night's class is on "Emergencies"
OK - I know the theory, I have read Sail, Cruising World, Tanzer
Talk, Practical Boat Owner, Chapman Piloting, Annapolis Seamanship, etc.
Have any of you actually, really, retrieved an unconscious person
from the water? Or a even a simulated live person - one where the
"victim" really does not help one bit? I don't want second person
stories here - I want to hear from someone who actually did it!
We have good friends who cruise (seven years doing it - across the
BIG POND and all). They have the rule that a "man overboard" is a
dead person. :(
I await your replies!
(2) Some years ago I was cruising with a friends who had a 28-foot
wooden Nova Scotia sloop. I was sailing my Tanzer 22. Off Wolfe
Island we spotted a fishing boat overturned and in the water were
momma, poppa and two kids, one about six and the other about four.
Momma and poppa were obese -- REALLY obese. Papa weighed at least 300
pounds and momma weighed more than 250 pounds. Judging by skin colour
(I used to chase ambulances as a police reporter) the two adults were
in shock and close to death.
My friend in the 28-footer hoisted the kids out of the water, then
jumped in and roped them in mountaineering style (he had coast guard
training in the UK). Then he climbed aboard and winched them up on
his main halyard, a wire cable heavy duty halyard with a mast winch.
Certainly I could not have managed this on Galadriel. I would have
had to put down a ladder and pray that they were not too comatose to
climb it. The kids I could have handled. (The family dog was trapped
in the bow of the fishing boat and went down with it.)
I used to conduct regular man-overboard drills. This involved
throwing something in the water, stepping into the cabin and
announced that I'd had a heart attack or something and they must
rescue the item -- a cushion, a bumper.
Then one day just out of Picton I tried this with my kids and one of
them, reaching for the cushion, lost his balance and went overboard.
I was pretty fit and about mid-forties then. My son was super fit, an
athletic teenage. We had one hell of a time getting him aboard. In a
serious chop on Lake Ontario we could have lost him.
I realized that my smug little rituals were entirely irrelevant.
Getting anybody aboard a Tanzer 22, with its fairly high freeboard,
is difficult and dangerous.
From then on I have concentrated on preventing people from falling
overboard, and from ensuring they have proper flotation devices on in
all but the most benign conditions.
My wife understands the "heaving to" process and can retrieve
something from the water. She could not hoist me aboard if I were
unable to help, and would have difficulty even then. She'd have to
stop the boat, install the swim ladder and help me up.
There was a case in Toronto some years ago when a woman fell off a
charter sailboat and went straight down -- they never found her. Why
she wasn't wearing a PFD I do not know -- the skipper was a pretty
responsible guy from all I heard.
JAG -- T22 #559
(3) I have been messing about in boats since 1963, mostly in small
keel boats. In June, 1997, I was sailing my Tanzer 22 Riki (#407)
with two friends who knew nothing about sailing and a wife who was
definitely a neophyte. We had just left the Suttons Bay, MI, marina
and were perhaps 200 feet off in 30-40 feet of water. No one was
wearing a PFD. The weather was calm with a light breeze and sun;
temperature maybe 70 or so. It was a perfect day. The outboard was
running at medium speed and I went forward to get the jib up. I
slipped and fell into the water and came very close to drowning.
a. First, there was the shock of the VERY cold water. Traverse Bay
water is still very cold in the early summer and although I am
usually a fairly strong swimmer, I felt a kind of creeping paralysis.
b. My first action was to push AWAY from the boat, because I had
fallen off on the side with the outboard and I was in danger from the
c. No one left on board had a clue about what to do. Although we had
a horseshoe buoy readily available, it took a few long moments before
anyone thought to toss it to me and then it was not tied to the boat.
I had to swim to it; fortunately, they did make a good toss. I was
able to get onto the horseshoe and wait.
d. When they did get the boat turned around and came next to me, the
assumption was that I could climb back on. By that time, the cold
water shock, the exhaustion of being in the water etc. made it
impossible for me to get on board on my own even after I was
maneuvered to the stern of the boat and the ladder. Fortunately, one
of the passengers was a large strong man who more or less picked me
up and pulled me back aboard.
I won't bore you with all the things we learned or changed after this
experience. I hope it will help you teach others. I know it's not
precisely what you asked for, still...hoping it helps.
Jim - Riki T22#407
(4) Two years ago I bought the "Rescue Collar" (Canadian version of
the Life Sling. Instead of 50 feet of line, you get 16.7 meters.) and
during a drifter my buddy and I decided to have a man overboard drill.
He jumped in, I deployed the "Rescue Collar", attached the block and
tackle to the boom and because I'm a hero, proceeded to hoist him to safety.
Well, that was the idea....it didn't work, I couldn't get him into the boat.
First of all, the Tanzer has a high free board, you can't connect the
block and tackle close enough to the victim. If you do get it
attached (without falling in yourself) don't bother using the boom
for the other end of the block and tackle because it wouldn't go high
enough to allow the victim to clear the free board. The best I could
do was use the main sheet halyard and even then had I to bring him
around to the transom and only half way up the swim ladder.
I can not imagine trying to rescue someone in rough weather. I
couldn't do it in flat weather. We tried for almost an hour.
Again - I encourage your FIRST HAND experiences.
Unfortunately, most MOB drills do little to prepare you for the real thing. The best MOB drills I've participated in were using a weighted dummy in a PFD. Hauling something that weighs 150 lbs. out of the water onto the boat that can't assist you at all in its "rescue" gives you a pretty good idea of how bad it will be.
I've also had to do some real MOB recoveries... and it is always amazing to me how quickly a short period of time in the water can sap the strength of even a very fit person.
Staying on the boat and keeping people on the boat is a much better option than all the practice in MOB drills... You still need to do the MOB drills for when the stuff hits the fan, but it is far, far better to try and avoid having to put that practice in to actual use.
Many boats are particularly ill-equipped to deal with an MOB. Mine, fortunately, is not one of them, having relatively little freeboard at the amas, and making recovering a MOB, or in the case of last summer a DOB... much simpler. Hoisting a 80-90 lb. labrador aboard wasn't much fun, but there was no way it was going to get back on the boat it came off of initially without being on another boat first. I don't think it would have been possible at all if the dog didn't have a good doggie PFD with a handle on the back.
I have had to pull someone back on board in earnest twice. Once I was the only one on the boat and my wife had gone overboard in suddenly less than ideal conditions. It certainly informed my approach to boating form then on.
The toher time was on a 30 footer heading down wind on spinnaker in about 15 knots in a harbour. one of the idiot crew decided to celebrate the race win by grabbing the tethered life ring and leaping over the back rail to "tube surf"...
When he used to do this in the teams previous boat, it had been a 24 and basically reduced speed to 4 knots from having the drag....The 30 footer just did not care.
The water was much much colder than suspected, and was a hell of a shock after the very hot day's racing.
...And finally he screwed up the balance point on the rescue ring (likely as a response to the previous two points) and turned himself into a diving lure, even when in the rescue floatie. He literally justgot hauled under.
Fortunately we still had six competent folks on board and we were able to douse the kite, turn up into the wind and have him bob back up. We could then gorilla-handle him back on board. It took the guy about 120 seconds to go from hyper-fit 19year old to sodden rag doll with barely the strength to assist in his own retreival.
very educational, that.
I have also done a couple of real recoveries onto the coast guard boat, but that is another kettle of fish...Though one is worth mentioning. I got to be the bunny that very gently had to haul an injured seal on board the rescue boat without further damaging or traumatising it (no one had told it to not damage or traumatise me!). It was at this point that I found out that injured and distressed seals become aggressive, bitey and incontinnent...pretty much all at the same time.
Sounds like the seal had a bit of fun with you.... :)
Have only been on a boat in the ocean twice. But we do have rivers and lakes here, and as a river guide, I have achieved a measure of skill at hauling people into rafts in white water. I have had to pull some people in while in some horrific waves. One guy weighed over 300, and I only weigh 150. I think one part of the equation is the timing of the wave. And we "bounce" the person , on the third bounce....heave. Also, important to pull by PFD shoulders, with the patients arms down so PFD doesn't come off. But now I will sail a little differently after reading some of these stories. Ok, so we got them in the boat. What now? I had all the training year after year, and knew the protocols. What I wasn't prepared for was the day I witnessed a drowning right in front of me, and I experienced the absolute terror of pulling up a blue, unresponsive, person. Take my word for it...fear is a factor. The training pays off though ,as I was able to get him in the raft and "air him up" and after 5 minutes with no resperations, and ten minutes of rescue breathing, he revived and was handed off to EMS. One last thought...They are not dead 'till they are warm and dead.
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