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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 10-03-2008
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Tethers/Jacklines/Harness....

The lifelines thread got me thinking...

Right now, I only use an automatic inflatable offshore vest when out alone...and usually only when it's 15+knts.

I'm getting the feeling I should be clipped in more often.
Do you every time you singlehand...or only when rough?

Guess I've been a little naughty with my safety standards.
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Old 10-03-2008
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It depends on the conditions and the boat... but yes, I think you should be clipping in more often than you are, especially given your sailing area.

Sailing in the Great Lakes means you're often sailing in cold water conditions, where falling into the water means hypothermia will set in. You really need to stay on the boat... and if not, you need to use a PFD.

A PFD helps put off the onset of hypothermia, since you don't have to move to keep yourself afloat and the body can keep the circulation shut down to your limbs... and helps you conserve heat... It also keeps your head out of the water when hypothermia does set in... and makes it far more likely you'll survive.
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Old 10-04-2008
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I use an auto inflate PFD on deck always, and I use a kayak-style vest in the tenders AND when I'm sailing alone, which could happen as early as tomorrow. The logic is that auto-inflates can fail, and if I fall off due to getting boomed in the head, only a foam-filled vest will keep me from drowning. The "passive" PFD is bulkier, but it's warmer intrinsically, a factor in late-season sailing.

I use a tether over 20 knots or 25 degrees of heel, and would use it in any situation when water is coming over the foredeck and I have to work on something while the boat is still moving, like folding a sail or repairing a stay.
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Old 10-04-2008
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Here's my take. If you go overboard; you are in a complete survival situation no matter where you are. You could be boarding your boat at the dock; or 10 miles offshore. Our dock has no place to climb out if you go in; and a couple of years ago a man fell in and drowned either due to a heart attack or had a heart attack when he fell in. His 65' cruiser that he was planning to go offshore in is now listed with a brokerage.

If you fall overboard and can't get back aboard yourself anywhere but close to shore or a dock your chances of survival are very low (unless you were seen or you have crew on your boat to go back to retrieve you). If it were me I would invest in a good harness, tether, and jackline setup that prevents your body from going over either side of the boat. People have been known to have fallen over the lifelines while tethered; yet drown because they can't pull their self back onboard due to the force of the water and hanging by their chest upside-down.

While I agree that a PFD should always be worn; it won't save your life if you take a tumble and go in the water by yourself. A good jackline/hardpoint system and strong tethers and harness can prevent it from happening. If you sail near shore another good thing to wear is a submersible marine VHF handheld. Many kiteboarders and windsurfers have been saved from being washed out into the open sea here (SF Bay) by calling the USCG for help.
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Old 10-04-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeelHaulin View Post
Here's my take. If you go overboard; you are in a complete survival situation no matter where you are. You could be boarding your boat at the dock; or 10 miles offshore. Our dock has no place to climb out if you go in; and a couple of years ago a man fell in and drowned either due to a heart attack or had a heart attack when he fell in. His 65' cruiser that he was planning to go offshore in is now listed with a brokerage.

If you fall overboard and can't get back aboard yourself anywhere but close to shore or a dock your chances of survival are very low (unless you were seen or you have crew on your boat to go back to retrieve you). If it were me I would invest in a good harness, tether, and jackline setup that prevents your body from going over either side of the boat. People have been known to have fallen over the lifelines while tethered; yet drown because they can't pull their self back onboard due to the force of the water and hanging by their chest upside-down.

While I agree that a PFD should always be worn; it won't save your life if you take a tumble and go in the water by yourself. A good jackline/hardpoint system and strong tethers and harness can prevent it from happening. If you sail near shore another good thing to wear is a submersible marine VHF handheld. Many kiteboarders and windsurfers have been saved from being washed out into the open sea here (SF Bay) by calling the USCG for help.

Two points... A good harness won't leave you hanging upside down. They're supposed to be high enough on the body to prevent that.

The submersible VHF is a very good idea if you're singlehanding.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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Old 10-04-2008
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Chick...last winter here in NC a guy on a 42ft. Beneteau was motoring down the ICW in a narrow channel and with very light winds. His boat was found still in gear after nearly running down another boat...obviously no more than several minutes after the skipper departed the boat. The skipper was found about 2 weeks later...no vest, no tether.
Boats can be dangerous in any weather and locking in is, in my estimation, a necessity anytime you are alone.
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My personal rule is that, when single-handing, if I cannot swim to shore I wear a harness/PFD.
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Old 10-04-2008
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My personal rule when singlehanding is not to wear a harness or tether unless I need to leave the cockpit or go to sleep. When singlehanding offshore, a PFD won't keep me alive but might raise the chances of someone making a gruesome discovery unless Nemo and friends get to me first.
The harness, on the other hand, is there to keep me aboard.
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Old 10-04-2008
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True Tale of Survival MOB

Having undergone an unintended in-the-water situation while singlehanding just 10 days ago, I have updated my understanding and...hopefully...my practice.

Won't go into all the details, but on a blustery morning on the Chesapeake while exiting a tributary, I snagged a trout line float while on autopilot and on the foredeck readying to sail.

One thing led to another, and eventually I found myself ejected into the water from my Caribe dingy. Thankfully, I was wearing my Mustang model 3184 inflatable PFD with a hydrostatic release (takes immersion to 4" to inflate).

Just as advertised, it inflated quickly and rolled me onto my back. That's the good news. The bad news is that with the vest inflated, your ability to maneuver and do anything useful is GREATLY diminished. There was quite a current running at the time, and the boat was pounding up and down in the chop.

To make a long story shorter, I found that it was IMPOSSIBLE in my state of exhaustion (I'd been working from the dingy for some time trying to free up the snag) to get back into the dingy. At most, I could get one leg part way over a tube, but lacked the power to do anything else.

I briefly thought about, but thankfully discarded the idea of removing the vest; that would have been tantamount to suicide, IMHO.

I could not get back on the boat, due to its high freeboard and to the fact that I stupidly had left the boat, gotten into the dingy, and failed to deploy my s/s boarding ladder. I could not reach it from the water.

My "backup plan", had not help come along in the form of a crabber with a big cage, was to simply roll on my back and paddle to shallow water about 50 yards away...if I could make it.

Looking back at the stupidity of the morning, I resolved in the future to do the following:

1. never, ever leave the boat without deploying the boarding ladder;

2. try to fashion some means of releasing the folding boarding ladder from the water, in the event of an inadvertent overside;

3. follow my own teachings as a sailing instructor and never leave the dock or anchorage with the sail covers on or otherwise not ready for INSTANT hoisting of the sails; and

4. continue my growing love affair with the Mustang 3184; wear it all the time.

And, yes, when sailing offshore I use jacklines (flat 2" wide nylon) and harness clipped to the Mustang.

Bill

PS...my son later suggested that it might have been possible to deflate one of the tubes on the dingy -- if I could have reached the valve -- enough to get into the RIB. Maybe someone ought to try this.

B.

Last edited by btrayfors; 10-04-2008 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 10-04-2008
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Getting back aboard is a big problem on many boats... fortunately, mine isn't one of them. The swim ladder is reachable from the water, even when stowed. The freeboard on the amas is minimal.

Glad to hear you're okay Bill.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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