May 4, 2015 How to, Rescue, Sailing

Man Overboard


Falling overboard is rare on a keel sailboat because they’re more stable than small dinghies that tend to be tippy. I’ve never lost anyone, but I’ve had people lose their hats as they look upward into the wind—and whoosh! The same technique to rescue a man overboard (or crew overboard = COB) is to turn around and sail or motor back to the spot of entry. It’s not complicated, and when done right the maneuver can result in a retrieved hat in less than 90 seconds. The American Sailing Association teaches the technique in a Figure 8 scheme. The idea is to get back in a hurry but to arrive slowly so as not to knock the person in the head. It helps greatly if the MOB or COB is wearing a life preserver, which I require of everyone in early spring because the river water is still a chilly 60 degrees.


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