C h a p t e r - XV


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The purpose of the man overboard drill is to help you and your crew practice the maneuvers that you will need to do in the event of a real man overboard situation. With practice, you will be able react quickly and do the right things the first time. This can make the difference between a successful rescue and an unsuccessful one.
    1. Shout "MAN OVERBOARD" to let the crew know what has happened so everyone onboard can help.
    2. Throw some kind of FLOTATION into the water to help the victim keep afloat You can use boat cushions, life jackets, life ring, or even a beer chest - whatever is handy. Extra flotation will not only make it easier for the victim to stay afloat, it will help you see the victim. It can be very hard to see someone in the water when there are waves or when visibility is poor. Try to throw the flotation as close to the victim as possible without hitting him.
    3. Assign someone to be a spotter so that you don't lose track of the victim. This will give the skipper a chance to pay attention to what must be done onboard.
    4. If it's going to be too much trouble to control the jib, LOWER THE JIB and secure it to the deck. This will also help the boat stay put while pulling the victim back aboard. In a real emergency you can let the jib flog by releasing the sheets. On large boats you will have to SECURE THE VICTIM with a line while getting ready to haul the victim aboard with a halyard or other line.

Objective - The primary objective is to get the boat situated so that you can make a final approach towards the victim on a close reach or close hauled. This way you can ease the sails and slow the boat down to a stop in order to get the victim aboard. It will take some practice to get the boat to stop where you want it to stop. Always remain calm and orderly. Confusion will lead to mistakes that can make the difference between success and failure. Also you don't want anyone else to get hurt or go overboard.


Maneuvering into Position - First note the wind direction. Then pick the victim up on the leeward (down wind) side of the boat There are three benefits to doing it this way.

  1. This protects the victim from the wind and the waves.
  2. The leeward side is usually the lowest side to the water. Using this side will make it easier to get the victim back onboard.
  3. The boat will tend to drift toward the victim. If you don't get close enough to him on the first try, the boat will drift closer to him.


The Final Approach - The Gybe Approach The fastest way to return to the victim when sailing on a close or a beam reach is by Gybing. Continue going your original course for a boat length or so and then bear away into a Gybe. After the Gybe is completed, keep turning in the same direction until you can approach the victim on a close reach or close hauled. Before you reach your objective, ease the sails so the boat will slow down. By adjusting the sails on the final approach, you can bring the boat to a stop along side the person in the water. You may have to take the sails down so the boat won't try to sail away while you're working at getting the victim aboard. In heavy weather it may be too dangerous to attempt a Gybe. If this is the case you may have to use another maneuver such as the figure eight which will be described in this section.


The Tacking Approach - When on a broad reach or a run, the most direct method of returning to the spot where someone falls overboard is the tacking approach. On a broad reach, continue your course for two boat lengths or so and come about. This will leave you lined up for a close reaching approach. On a run you may have to come up to a beam reach before tacking. If you cover about as much distance on a beam reach as you did running, you will be set up for a close reaching approach again.


The Figure Eight or "Q" Turn. In heavy wind conditions or any time it isn't safe to Gybe, you can use the figure eight maneuver. This technique is also useful when you are short handed. If necessary you can release the jib sheets so you don't have to bother with the jib. Although this is hard on the Sail and should only be done in an emergency. Bear away to a beam or broad reach until you are across the wind from the victim. Then tack and continue to bear away again until you can ilne up the boat to approach the victim on a close reach. Pick up the victim as you would in the other maneuvers.

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