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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related) > Sometimes, when everything goes wrong...
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Thread: Sometimes, when everything goes wrong... Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
08-23-2006 06:08 PM
captnnero
practice

I haven't experienced a COB but I have practiced it with several crew. As with anything, practice is so important. Practice makes response automatic so that you can think ahead and handle the unexpected while executing the practiced plan.

I did COB drills on a 50 foot bareboat with 8 on board in the Grenadines. The experience level was much lower than my wife and I who've had ten years part time sailing and a few courses. I spent quite a while before we left the dock just organizing my notes. Then I did a very serious minded presentation in the cockpit in the slip the morning of departure. When everyone was relaxing after the presentation I called a surprise drill and they responded fairly well. It took two drills later underway before we actually got it right and it was quite educational for me also.

Something I had to handle as skipper were those spontaneous ideas which are well intentioned but not necessarily helpful. I anticipated that with a simple statement in the briefing defining the role of the skipper, the need for information and the way to communicate it, and the proper time for discussion.

I trained everyone to at least understand all roles, and there were two people for every designated role. Of course I had to have a backup skipper too. The next time I do such a drill I will sit it out and have the backup take over.

For the underway drills I secretly made a dummy crew member target with three mostly full one gallon water jugs and one empty inverted one lashed together. I put a piece of loose leaf paper in the empty one to give it some resemblance to just a human head in the water. When it was drill time I quietly tossed the thing from a transom locker and waited a few seconds before calling the drill so they would have to find the target too. I've heard that the US Navy sometimes uses a coconut as the COB target.

Included in the training was the role of the COB so everyone knew to hold their biggest piece of clothing overhead regardless of modesty if they ever were overboard.

After that trip I decided that for any future bareboats I will be incorporating the COB practice early, including pre-cruise materials. If people won't commit to that up front then they simply won't be on the trip.
08-23-2006 04:27 PM
sailingdog
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor
We keep a dedicated 4-part block and tackle rigged with a snap shackle on the "top" block. If the event of a MOB, lifesling or not, that's so that once we "have" the MOB, we can snap on the shackle to the boom, swing it out over the side, and even one person can hoist away and recover the MOB, clear of the hull. That might not be the option to choose--but we keep it available because it very well might be, and it requires no de-rigging or fiddling with any other part of the boat.
The hardest part of a MOB recovery may very well be getting the MOB into the boat--without slamming the hull against them. I've spent enough time in the water next to boats to know that even with a 2-3 chop and everyone alert, that damned hull wants to crack heads.
Twelve years ago, the amount of knowledge we had on doing COB rescues was far less than is available today, thanks in large part to John Rousmaniere, and the COB symposiums he's helped fund and run.

I do carry a lifesling2 on my boat...and because of the relatively low freeboard, and multiple boarding points I generally feel I don't need a block and tackle for it. I've used the two-part block and tackle that is an option for the LifeSling, and it is fairly worthless.

In a pinch, I could use the mainsheet block and tackle on my boat, which is a six-to-one block system, and more than strong enough to pick up even the largest crewman. It would be relatively easy to unto the bottom block clevis pin and rig a shackle to it to hoist with. I would leave the top end connected to the boom and use my boom brake to hold it in position.
08-23-2006 03:13 PM
hellosailor "Have either of you ever done a real life rescue?"
Not a full blown MOB, but several petite rescues where yes, life and death were options. One in the ocean with a SCUBA failure where my dive buddy got in trouble, panicked, and I had to rescue us both. (Divers usually die in pairs, one gets in trouble and winds up killing both.) Which is why I believe in PFD's with enough capacity to lift *two* people. Another dive rescue of myself, after a fishing net neatly wrapped me and tied me and I started drifting deeper into a deep channel on an outgoing current. A third from a whitewater trip, where my friend's non-swimmer gf took a bounce off the pontoon, into the water, and the two of us both reached her grab strap and deposited her back into the bottom of the raft before she'd figured out that she had been neck-deep overboard and gone.
If you've been trained to *act* without random thinking, to know the situation and responses possible, and simply follow the procedures, you just do it. Well, some people do it, some people panic and hoot and holler. Screening out the panicky types ahead of time makes a difference. I've found out from a number of minor incidents that I don't have to worry about panicking, and that's not really uncommon. Afterwards....I may need a long cold drink. Now, put a roach in my bedding and I may get too upset to sleep that night. But MOB?
If your crew has taken it seriously, you have a plan and when it is needed you execute it. You don't have a crisis until and unless that execution fails. Or, people start to panic.

"I wish we had had a Lifesling or some other type of hoisting harness,"
We keep a dedicated 4-part block and tackle rigged with a snap shackle on the "top" block. If the event of a MOB, lifesling or not, that's so that once we "have" the MOB, we can snap on the shackle to the boom, swing it out over the side, and even one person can hoist away and recover the MOB, clear of the hull. That might not be the option to choose--but we keep it available because it very well might be, and it requires no de-rigging or fiddling with any other part of the boat.
The hardest part of a MOB recovery may very well be getting the MOB into the boat--without slamming the hull against them. I've spent enough time in the water next to boats to know that even with a 2-3 chop and everyone alert, that damned hull wants to crack heads.
08-23-2006 02:56 PM
TrueBlue You're right Surf, when the wind pipes to 15-20 knots, whitecaps can obscure a floating head. In conditions with low visibility, such as with New England's infamous fog, SAR becomes even more challenging.
08-23-2006 02:55 PM
sailingdog
Quote:
Originally Posted by Surfesq
TB: My first wife's family had a 30 foot Dufour which we sailed for 9 great years. Her little brothers loved to play a little game in the summer. When you least expected it, they would jump overboard and yell, "man overboard drill." It always surprised me how quickly you could lose sight of someone in 1-2 foot chop on the Bay. Particularly, when you least expected them to go over and they were not wearing a life jacket. After a pretty good scare on one occasion, we started tossing the white seat cushions and the MOB Pole after her crazy brothers.
There's a prize for people who do things like this... The Darwin Awards...
08-23-2006 02:43 PM
Surfesq TB: My first wife's family had a 30 foot Dufour which we sailed for 9 great years. Her little brothers loved to play a little game in the summer. When you least expected it, they would jump overboard and yell, "man overboard drill." It always surprised me how quickly you could lose sight of someone in 1-2 foot chop on the Bay. Particularly, when you least expected them to go over and they were not wearing a life jacket. After a pretty good scare on one occasion, we started tossing the white seat cushions and the MOB Pole after her crazy brothers.
08-23-2006 02:34 PM
TrueBlue I checked out the sailnet store, right here on this site Surf. The picture is from sailnet's server (rightclick on properties)


Not for Bay use of course, and not for ocean crossings either. I'm actually concerned more for the occasional offshore trips we make, like to MV, Nantucket, Block Island, Shelter Island and next season, a trip to Maine. The seas can build to over 8-10 feet in these waters at times, making visiblity over waves tougher.
08-23-2006 02:22 PM
Surfesq True Blue: Did you just go and research the net for a picture of something? .

I absolutely agree with you that it is a must for any boat, even in the Bay. It is so easy to lose someone in even 1 foot of chop.
08-23-2006 01:34 PM
TrueBlue I have been meaning to make a COB pole for sometime now - just haven't gotten around to it yet. Perhaps these stories will inspire me to do so.

Incidentally, they cost $140 from the sailnet store and think anyone with even basic skills could make one for much less.

08-23-2006 01:14 PM
sailingdog About twelve years ago, I was out sailing on a J/24 on Buzzards Bay. I was crewing for a friend who had broken her leg. Kim's leg was in a fiberglass cast and she had a big plastic bag over it, and she was on the helm, and I was on the bow, working the spinnaker pole.

The wind shifted and broached the boat. She ended up in the water, and I didn't... so I dropped the spinnakker and then jumped back in the cockpit and brought the boat around, under just the mainsail, in a figure eight and along side her. I didn't throw the cockpit cushions (Type IV PFDs) since they had gone over the side with her and she had them and her vest on... so sinking wasn't going to be a problem.

I had to use the spinnaker halyard to haul her soggy butt back in to the boat. She ended up having to get a new cast put on, and I ended up with a broken right pinky...still have no idea how I broke it. The plastic bag around the cast was a big problem, since it had filled up with quite a bit of water.

I wish we had had a Lifesling or some other type of hoisting harness, instead of using a bowline in the spin halyard. You get a lot better support for the person in the water with a harness or lifesling than you do with just a spin halyard, and you have a much better attachment point.

Granted, were weren't in much danger, being the middle of summer in fairly warm waters at the time... but the incident taught me a lot about wanting to keep people on the boat, rather than have to chase them down after they fall off.

A few of things that were important.

First, both of use were wearing PFDs, Type III waterskiing vests, given it was fairly gusty and we were on a relatively small boat.

Second, the Type IV PFDs were in the cockpit and easily deployed... too easily in this particular case.

Third, we were lucky that neither of was seriously injured in the broach. Aside from the pinky and a few assorted bruises, we were okay.

Fourth, either of us was skilled enough to sail the boat single handed, and would have been able to get back to the other. Granted, she might have had a bit more trouble getting the spinnaker down than I did, given her leg, and probably a bit more trouble getting me back on board, as I outweighed her by thirty or forty pounds...

The last point is very important IMHO. It doesn't matter how many crew you have aboard if they're not able to handle the boat well enough by themselves to get back to you, if you fall overboard.

On my current boat, which is a lot bigger and more stable than a J/24, I don't require the use of vests unless the wind or chop has picked up, or visibility has dropped.

Most of the PFDs on my boat are SOLAS approved and have whistles, strobes and reflectors on them. (I do have some Type III vests for when I have people visiting for party on the harbor, and for use in the dinghy.) I also have one Type IV throwing cushion, a 70' heaving line stored in the cockpit, and a LifeSling2 mounted on the aft pushpit the boat. The Lifesling2 is already tied to the stern pushpit stanchions, so all that needs to be done is throw it to the person in the water.

I have jacklines on my boat and require the use of tethers, harnesses and jacklines, when out at night, in bad conditions or sailing single-handed. BTW, my definition of single-handed is the one I use above...anytime where I do not have a crew capable of doing a proper COB rescue, should I fall in.

Fortunately, I haven't had to use any of the above resuce gear, and I hope it stays that way. I hope this helps. I am in the process of making a nice COB pole, using a buoy I picked up on the beach at Lovell's Island this spring.
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