Being dragged along side one''s boat on a tether can lead to drowning wether you are lone or with a crew. As such, one must place jacklines such that this situation is not possible. For example, I run my jack lines from my mooring cleats which are about 4 feet from the bow, down the centerline of the boat to my steering pedestal. (I don''t have a dodger to contend with.) This arrangement, coupled with a relatively short tether (about 4 feet), should prevent an overboard situation.
Okay, but what if you have a small 21 foot boat and even with jacklines and a 4'' tether you will probably end up in the water. Do you think I would be able to get back in the boat while being dragged? Maybe I shouldn''t wear a harness when going forward?
When I was in Australia in 79 a Jappenese single hander fell overboard while wearing a 6'' long tether/harness. The boat was sailing along at around 5 knots. He was able to pull himself up to the transom but could not lift himself clear of the water enough to get onboard. There is some irony here since he normally used a wind vane and would have had no trouble kicking the paddle and stopping the boat, That day he was trying out his first auto pilot. He was dragged for over an hour before hitting the rocks where he was rescued but the boat was a total loss. If he had a set of rungs/stepts on the stern Kuni thought he probally could have pulled himself out. He said he quickly became tired and was only able to keep his head up after a few minutes. The water flow was just too powerful.. He did get another boat and contiune on at a later date.
I would suggest that you do several things. 1. Keep the jackline as near the centerline of the boat as possible 2. Find the shortest tether that you can. 3. Get a 2nd tether and find an attachment point such that the two tethers prevent you from going ob. If this doesn''t work, I would do things like drag a line in the water behind the boat to grab onto. This line could be attached to the transom ladder such that when you grab it, it pulls the ladder down for you. On a tiller steered boat, you could also rig a line that trips whatever you use to center the tiller when you leave it unattended. This way, the boat will round up into the wind and slow way down. Good luck.
Fran judging from your bio on the members directory you are an experienced sailor. Let common sense rule a 21 '' boat is definitely a cork in those 11'' seas you have already experienced. you do need a tether in that type of weather. Keep it short and If you are not physically able to lift youself back on board sail with some one. Safety is #1.
I have experienced 8'' waves in my Freedom 21. I was new at big water sailing back in the early 60''s and we did not understand the Mafor of 35 knot WNW winds and waves of 1.5 meters ( we found out a week later that 1.5 meter waves meant 11.5''). Anyway we ended up on an 88 mile crossing which we did in 11 hours. I no longer sail when the winds get that strong.
Please, more input. So far it sounds like being dragged by your harness could be life threatening. I like the idea of being able to release the tiller from the auto pilot if I can figure a way to get it done.
I was flipping thru my Defender Catalog over the weekend are see that Wichard has a couple of products that may be of interest to you. One is a 3 foot long tether which is the shortest tether that I have seen. The second product is, for lack of a better term, a stopper for jacklines. Its a pastic device that prevents the tether attachment from sliding all the way to the end of the jackline. You might want to check these out on either the defender or the wichard sites. Good Luck.
No matter how life threatening being towed behind your boat on a teather may seem the alternative of not being twoed is far worse. I have tried to climb aboard from the water with only my teather while the boat was on the hook. The teather actually gave me something to use to help climb back aboard. I was also able to pull the jackline close enough to the rail to grab it and hold on. All that said, I was not able to pull myself aboard. After that experiment, I keep a loop of line hanging over the side at the aft quarter cleat that greatly increased my chnace of getting aboard.
The main reason that I wear a harness when single-handing is the many times that it has kept me from going over the side in the first place. I have jacklines rigged on each side of the boat and always use the weather jackline. It is rigged so I can''t reach the leeward rail of my boat.
If you really think that being towed could kill you, then you might want one of the new teathers with the quick release snap shackle at the chest.
I agree with Jeff; I guess it is better to be dragged than to be left in the middle of the ocean. I would suggest both a quick release and a sharp knife. While I hate to be pedantic; the whole point of jacklines, harnesses, and tethers is to make sure that you don''t end up in the drink. If you can''t assure this will your current configuration, I would suggested using more than one tether and clipping into fixed points on the boat..
I think it was in the last Single Handed Farallons race out of SF bay that a sailor (a very experienced one at that) fell overboard and was drowned by dragging. Not sure why he could not detach. Probably the drowning danger is somewhat proportional to the speed of the boat, faster being worse. It is often blowing pretty hard out between the G Gate and the islands.
I sail alone often and in less than ideal conditions.Being that the biggest danger in the water is hypothermia , even in warmer waters, a man overboard situation is always extremely dangerous.I have heard accounts of deaths of people who are right next to their boats and cannot get back aboard even with the help of (older, or female ) crew.
I have added a small rope pull-down ladder to the stern. It is in its own bag and I made sure I can reach it from the water.
I have added padeyes in the cockpit and use these to hook in with a short line.To my harness/inflatable vest I have secured a very sharp knife. My idea is to stay in the boat but if that fails, I would have to cut free to get to the stern and the ladder...hopefully after the boat rounds up.
Any advice is always welcome
One additional thought about attachment of a tether: after using a conventional jack line arrangement offshore for a while, we switched to a jackline method recommended by John Neal. For those who don''t recognize John''s name, his first book (Log of the Mahina) covered a trip from WA state down into the South Pacific and back as a young man, and he''s subsequently sailed 300,000+ miles on a series of Halberg Rasseys while instructing guest crew.
His method is to run the jackline *above* the lifelines on each side of the boat. E.g. on our Pearson ketch, we run a jackline from the upper mizzen shroud, shoulder height, forward to the upper main shroud (around once to halve the unsupported length of the line) and then further forward (and sloping downward), terminating it at the bow pulpit. While this may seem like it decreases the chance of the jackline/tether/vest keeping you aboard, in my experience it actually serves as a very effective add''l barrier to being thrown over the side in the first place. Moreover, it provides add''l support when moving fore/aft on deck. Initially skeptical about this, it''s now my favored arrangement - tho'' in fact, I can continue to use the deck-mounted jack lines, as well. It''s just that I rarely use them now, given this other alternative.
My understanding is that you are much more likely to drown if you are dragged ''behind'' the boat than if you are dragged at the side. So make sure your jackline terminates forward enough so you don''t end up behind the boat. The other thing I''ve done is to drag a ''step'' on both sides of the boat. Basically, I just leave a 4'' length of jackline past its attachment point, put a loop into the end of that end, and drag it overboard. Now, if I fall overboard, get dragged to the aft end of the line, I have a loop to step into and pull myself back on board (or so the theory goes ;-).
I have tied a 1/4" poly line to the bottom of my wheel and ran the line off the quarter,infront of the stearn rail, with five stopper knots, one foot apart, near the end.This line being fifty feet long trailing
astern.If I have to unhook, this should work.I also do most of my sailing alone
in all weather. After unhooking, grabbing this line would, theoretically, turn the boat and give me time to climb aboard being my boat has a transom ladder.
Many bits of good advice. Do I assume that having your harness clipped to an aluminum toerail is a bad idea, even if the tether is a short one?
Another question. I''ve been moderately hypothermic before and barely had enough strength to get aboard even with the aid of a strong son. Would it not be wise to stay as near the boat as possible to minimize time in water?
Has anyone ever experienced dangling from a tether/harness OUT of the water for any length of time? I did...I''d go for my chances in the water on a tether rather than out if I was hanging from the tether on the windward side. Here''s why...
While at an offshore sailing school program, we were covering rescue & COB techniques. One thing that came out was how to recover the COB, particular if it''s a large COB (like me, around 275#) and a small crew on board (like my wife, @ about 110#). So, since my wife was along for the course too we decided to give it a try with us as a real world example to see how it would work and how it could be done.
The basic technique was to use the mainsheet tackle & the boom as a crane to hoist the COB (me) out of the water. So we disconnected the main sheet attached it to my harness, and my wife started cranking away at the mainsheet.
The good news - she got me pretty high out of the water, and it''s clear should could have even gotten me up to deck out of the water under the lifelines.
The bad news - it was one of the more painful things I have had done to me. My back hurt for days. While it was happening it was painful, I could definitely feel every stress and strain applied by the harness. Wouldn''t bother me if I was unconscious I suppose, and it beats the alternative. I was only lifted about 2/3 out of the water, and hung suspended for a total of less than five minutes. Of course this effect on me could be related to my size and physical condition to.
But we were at anchor in a little lagoon in flat water. If the boat were pitching in eight foot swells, I don''t doubt for a second that if I were hanging overboard by my harness without the water supporting me I would very quickly be shaken senseless. Also very quickly someone would experience pulled muscles and some very potentially dangerous and debilitating back injuries. Never mind getting beaten against the hull.
From my reading it''s been said that you should avoid allowing jackline/tether combinations to go far enough to take you behind the boat. I''m not sure if that applies to boats with swim platforms that are reachable or not. I''m still a little fuzzy on how to set them up optimally. Since I do only coastal cruising right now I see the optimal jackline setup as nicely rolled in the bag while I''m not out sailing in situations that require jacklines.
There was a report on jacklines & harnesses release a couple of years back - can''t remember the body that did it. One thing that stood out was some discussion of the forces applied to a tether/harness/jackline combination by a falling body when it hit the end of the line. I don''t remember the numbers, but the force applied was surprising. It was a very good case for shorter lines, clipping to the windward jackline, and ensuring from that line you can''t fall past the lifelines on the leeward side.