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Old 18-05-2012, 07:54   #1
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Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

While one tends to think that once anchored one is relatively safe, that may not always be the case, even if the yacht does not drag.

We have just received an email message via GlobalStar from friends aboard our sistership on passage between Union Island and Grenada. It seems that while they were departing the harbor at Clifton on Union Island earlier this AM they overheard VHF exchanges between a yacht anchored at the Tobago Cays and St. Vincent authorities to the effect that the man aboard the yacht had apparently gone overboard during the night but was not discovered to be missing by his wife until somewhat after 0600. He was last seen at at around 0300. Our friends had earlier been anchored at the Tobagos but quit the place for the shelter of Clifton harbor for a day or two as the conditions at the Cays were extremely rough and, in their view, untenable. Evidently it took St. Vincent authorities 4 hours or more to get a SAR asset to the Tobago Cays and as of the time of the message, they had not yet found the MOB. Hopefully they will but the prevailing conditions, coupled with the swift currents, make possibilities remote after so much time.

For what it's worth, whenever we anchor we keep our swimming ladder deployed and a floating line attached to a quoit in the water, trailing off the back of the boat a few yards so that if one does go in the water, one has something to grab if one finds oneself being swept past the boat by the current. Whether that might have been of any help to the MOB in the Tobagos is anyone's guess but it would have been better than nothing.

Further, even anchored, in very rough conditions we remain clipped onto the yacht while on deck, particularly after dark. Our friends report that as the winds increased, they quickly built up a terrific sea that had the yacht rolling from rail to rail at anchor and that one wave actually had the boat's rail under water, which is a pretty tough trick with a First 42. Going forward to check on or retrieve the anchor under such conditions was/would have been very hazardous.

FWIW...

PS: IF we learn any more about the incident I will up-date this post.
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Old 18-05-2012, 08:39   #2
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Re: Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

Very sad
Good post. When anchored in bad conditions things can be very rough when you have to crawl along the deck because you cannot stand you know it's windy. It always surprises me how many people talk about retrieving multiple anchors in these conditions - most of the time on the foredeck you are just hanging on.
I am not sure the line out of the back is such a good idea. The potential for it to get caught around the prop is just too great.
A few year s ago a friend,who single hands a lot,and I did some tests jumping in and trying to grab a rope when sailing. He was very fit and a great swimmer, but in the end we concluded it was worthless. Not quite the same at anchor, but if you fall in there is going to a long period of shock and disorientation so the rope better be long, which increases the chance of getting around the prop if you drag and start the motor. There are emergancy rope ladders that can be pulled down from the stern and left perminatley ready to deploy.
if you leave the cockpit when sailing, or in rough conditions at anchor, wake someone else up is good general rule. If you cannot swim to shore, or the boat and are outside life jackets are essential. It does not make much difference if you are a 1000 miles or 100m from shore if you cannot make it to safety your chances of survival without a life jacket are slim.
Clipping on is better still, but not always practical when things are happening very quickly, like dragging, or another boat dragging down on you.
If bad weather is forcast set these systems up first. When the anchor alarm goes off is not the time for searching in lockers for a life jacket. Clothing is important as well you will be drenched on the foredeck and it will take much more time to retrieve the anchor.
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Old 18-05-2012, 11:48   #3
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Re: Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

Disturbing news!

We've spent quite a few weeks in the Tobago Cays and never experienced those conditions, thankfully. The anchorage is behind a reef, so it's usually pretty tame, but when the wind got up to 20 knots or more, it became pretty bumpy at high tide as the waves run over the reef. The wind and waves were aligned, though, so we were doing more pitching than rolling.

This photo is looking downwind. Most everyone anchors behind the reef to the left in the photo, with larger boats in deeper water amongst the cays themselves. If he were able to keep himself afloat, it wouldn't have been impossible to swim or drift to one of the cays downwind.
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Old 18-05-2012, 11:59   #4
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Re: Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

FWIW, the only time I have every been a MOB was at anchor. It was daylight and the weather was benign, and I had not been drinking -- three pluses. I was not wearing a life jacket, and a strong tidal current was running -- two minuses.

Although -- it may be that not having the lifejacket on saved my life. I swam like hell against the current and somehow managed to get back to the boat and hold on until my crewman discovered I was missing and helped me get back on board. It was an Olympic swimming performance -- I knew my life depended on it -- and I would not have been able to do it with a LJ on.

But anyway -- yes, MOB at anchor can be just as deadly as in a seaway.
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Old 18-05-2012, 12:16   #5
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Re: Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

Good post. Hard to envision "rough conditions" in the cays. I've been there for days and some with 35 knots steady. But the water was just rippled.... and the holding superb... hope they find him on a nearby cay!
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Old 18-05-2012, 12:33   #6
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Re: Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
FWIW, the only time I have every been a MOB was at anchor. It was daylight and the weather was benign, and I had not been drinking -- three pluses. I was not wearing a life jacket, and a strong tidal current was running -- two minuses.

Although -- it may be that not having the lifejacket on saved my life. I swam like hell against the current and somehow managed to get back to the boat and hold on until my crewman discovered I was missing and helped me get back on board. It was an Olympic swimming performance -- I knew my life depended on it -- and I would not have been able to do it with a LJ on.

But anyway -- yes, MOB at anchor can be just as deadly as in a seaway.
There are times when it may is better to deflate the lifejacket. It can always be inflated later. This is one of the advantages of an inflatable life jacket.
Boarding a liferaft or getting back on the boat are other situations where some deflation can be sometimes be an advantage, particarly with lifejackets that have high buoyancy.
Even a conventional lifejacket can be ditched in few seconds if you are sure this is the best action.
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Old 18-05-2012, 13:16   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77
There are times when it may is better to deflate the lifejacket. It can always be inflated later. This is one of the advantages of an inflatable life jacket.
Boarding a liferaft or getting back on the boat are other situations where some deflation can be sometimes be an advantage, particarly with lifejackets that have high buoyancy.
Even a conventional lifejacket can be ditched in few seconds if you are sure this is the best action.
In this I would not have had time to fumble around for the deflation tube - 3 or 4 knot current. I still had my deck shoes on, even, when I was fished out. Within about 0.5 seconds of hitting the water, I already understood the situation, and I was already a frenzy of swimming activity. That is what saved my life.
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Old 18-05-2012, 13:18   #8
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Re: Anchor Watch in Rough Conditions--MOB

Yep. That may explain the swell. We anchor beyond the cays - plenty of protection from swell and much easier to escape in the dark, should one be forced to move unexpectedly.

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