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nolatom 04-25-2010 11:16 PM

M.O.B. Drill, followed by the real thing..
Midday lesson today, in gusty weather out of the WSW on Lake Pontchartrain. Students (parents plus 8-y.o. son) on their second lesson, and handling the boat competently reaching in 15-20, gusts to 25, with reefed main on a lightweight sportboat. Wind subsided a little, so we did an "Oscar overboard" drill with a life cushion, got really close first two "figure-8" pickup tries, and got "him" on 3rd try.

Then, reaching for home, it's windy again, when student (Mom) spots an empty jetski dead to windward, drifting. We all look (up-sun, which is tough), then spot one swimmer much farther to windward, waving hard at us. Rolled up the jib, motor on, and we motor-sail tacked up to him, stopped and muscled him aboard. He catches his breath and tells us there's 2 more! They're much farther to windward, but we hear one yelling first, then see him. Off we go, slow with outboard pitching out of the water frequently. We get the first one, and a 420 with 2 college types sailing (with trapeze), only other boat in the area, sees us and goes for the last guy. We each got one, now all accounted for and uninjured but a little shook up. We then approached the jetski like a big "Oscar", and reembarked them.

The 420 took off, but we waited to see they got restarted, settled down, and were heading back to the boat launch, after profuse thanks from all. One said we saved his life, though with lifejackets on all, and 74-degree lake, I think that's an exaggeration. But good to hear it, a good feeling for all on our boat, and I was impressed with the students--all cool cookies in a pinch, helpful, always in the right place, and I didn't have to repeat anything twice.

And we used the same approach we'd just practiced under sail. You just couldn't plan a lesson better than this. Practice it, then the real thing, with a real rescue. The 8-year-old was particularly stoked--nothing boring about this sail. Glad we were there when we were.

Izzy1414 04-26-2010 02:56 AM

Good on ya and yer crew Tom! Funny how fate serves things up ...... right place, right time, freshly practiced ..... :)

wind_magic 04-26-2010 03:05 AM

That is a terrific story!! :)

JohnRPollard 04-26-2010 08:42 AM


Outstanding and well done!!

That is a lesson your students will never forget. For most students, the MOB drill is more an exercise in abstraction than anything else. Talk about demonstrating the real-world importance of keeping a good watch and practicing MOB recovery. Wow!!

Kudos to you skipper, and your novice crew. Sounds like we've got some new "sailors" joining our ranks. :)

smackdaddy 04-26-2010 09:25 AM

78 Attachment(s)
Wow - nicely done Nola!

sailingdog 04-26-2010 10:18 AM

Well, that's one way to cap off a MOB drill... :D Goodonya Nolatom.

zz4gta 04-26-2010 12:40 PM

good on ya

ilikerust 05-11-2010 09:18 AM

"One said we saved his life, though with lifejackets on all, and 74-degree lake, I think that's an exaggeration."

I dunno - 74 degrees might feel good for swimming, but spend some time in it floating about, waiting for someone to come by and pick you up, and you can start getting chilled pretty quickly. If you hadn't come by, how far were they from land? How long would it have taken him to swim back to either his PWC or shore - if he even could have, given the wind and waves?

I mean, mebbe he was slightly overstating the seriousness of the circumstances, but he probably was pretty scared at that point, floating around out there by himself like a cork and getting pushed who knows where. I would think that falling off a PWC like that in any sizeable body of water would quite suddenly make you feel very small and vulnerable. I know I would be extremely grateful to you if I were in his position, and would similarly express my gratitude. Good job!!

Billy654 05-11-2010 06:50 PM


From one of your former students --- GooooD Going.

My wife and I practice what you taught us (MOB) this past week-end.

KeelHaulin 05-18-2010 01:21 AM

Great story; if they could not get back to the PWC then you probably did save their lives. In 74 degree water it will take a while but it would happen after about 6 hours. I applaud your mom for spotting them and you for getting them aboard; good job!

We had a MOB situation when I was doing a sailing school course. We were sailing off Santa Cruz; about 1.5 miles offshore and as we sailed downwind I spotted a MOB trying to climb back aboard a Santa Cruz 27. He was trying to crawl up the transom and his girlfriend was trying to pull him up aboard. It was choppy with 4-6' swell in 55 degree water; and he was having trouble. So the instructor had us stand by and wait to see if he could get aboard; and she finally was able to grab his belt on his jeans and help pull him up as he pulled on the pulpit with his hands. That was a scary few minutes; even for us as the stand-by boat.

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