Hi all - this is a long post
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
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.