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I've been practicing the MOB procedure for US Sailing certification and I'm having a problem judging the boat speed on the last leg of the maneuver. To review the process, it starts with turning to a beam reach 3 or 4 boat lengths followed by a big tack to a deep broad reach then a turn to a close reach to pick up the victim. When I make the turn to the close reach I find it difficult to judge whether I'm going to make to the victim, or if I'm coming in too "hot". I know I can sheet in the main to power up, or if I'm coming in too fast to bear away then quickly turn back to a new approach, but I don't have a feel yet what to implement when and for how long so that I arrive at the "victim" but just about ready to stop. What "cues" do I use to judge my approach speed? Btw the boats I'm using to practice on are club boats not mine, and mostly Catalina 32 or 36. TIA for any suggestions.
 

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I though when you approach the mob you should in iron.
 

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Using that tactic, are you blowing the jib when you tack to slow you down?
When you make your turn back, you only have to be downwind of the target, don't get too far downwind before heading up. Only use enough main to make way, as you say you can harden up if you need to. I wouldn't bear away from the target, I'd suggest easing the main instead.

You have to judge the amt of wind you're sailing in, when you're close you can ease the main to bleed off speed, then pinch up as you come alongside.

I think the key is to make sure you're on a close reach when you turn directly toward the victim, not close hauled, in order to maintain complete control and the ability to get back to the spot. Then you can play with the speed with the mainsail. If you're are on too much of a close hauled, pinching, course coming back, you risk not reaching the target, especially in a strong wind.
 

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I though when you approach the mob you should in iron.
That's a no-no. If in irons, the luffing sheets and boom make movement about the boat while focusing on the person in the water very hazardous. You risk potentially more serious injury to persons IN the boat than perhaps those experienced by the person in the water. You definitely want the sails luffing off to leeward and the MOB to windward...On a boat with an overlapping jib, furling the jib during the approach is a good step.

As to timing the approach, what I instruct for this step is to always luff all sails as turning up to the approach. If you have done the exercise correctly you should have 2-3 boat lengths to slow down.

If going too slow, trim the main in to speed up. If going too fast (more likely not having done the maneuver quite right so ending up too close), slow the boat per skills from another training exercise (rapid rudder movements, backing a sail, depends on the boat...).
 

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This is going to be rather more difficult to judge if you're using a different boat each time! But either way it takes practice, and will change with different wind speeds and conditions too...
 

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To judge your speed, look at the bubbles in the water right next to the cockpit. You would be suprised how slow you can go and still have steerage.
 

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I teach it, on a smaller less-interia boat, but have found it useful to have them go to a broad reach right away, so that after tacking you return on more of a beam reach, then head up to close hauled or just above, and luff as you get there. Our little 2300-pound boat stops quickly.

Returning on a beam reach as your "base course" means you have a better feel for your speed as you get closer to Oscar (more so than on a broad reach, it's just more "intuitive" at least to me) and it's easier to know when to slow the boat, I just think the necessarily smaller turn up to your pickup spot makes it harder to misjudge when and how fast to be going before you start that turn.

I also agree "not in irons", close-hauled with sails out better. It doesn't always work out that way with the student helmsmen, so sometimes we end up head-to-wind. One advantage though is the boom and flogging jib sheet are not so far to leeward to hit us as we tend to Oscar at the (old) lee rail.
 

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Know your boat. A heavy boat will carry farther with the sails luffing than a light boat. If you know that your boat will coast 4-5 boat lengths when brought head-to wind with the sails luffing, from a certain boatspeed, then make your turn about 3-4 boat lengths to leeward of the MOB. As the boat coasts toward him, it will slow down, and will be moving slowly when it reaches him.
 

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That's a time when you want to be sailing by the seat of your pants, and the best way to do that is by practicing. Don't even bother with the full figure-8 at first, just try coming up on a mooring ball (or any float on an anchor line) until you get the knack for just "kissing" the float with your boat. Typically kissing it amidships or on the quarter, not the bow, since you wouldn't be recovering a MOB on the bow anyhow.

There are some split schools of thought on that. Some would say you should be upwind of the MOB so you drift onto them. Others (like me!) would say to be DOWNWIND of the MOB, so you are drifting away from them and can't smack them and knock them under the hull.
 
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