The tether that attaches to your harness should be no longer than from your armpit to the snap shackle that is attached to the vessel. Not to life lines. Generally, you can run jack lines, or fasten to something very secure.
You do not want to go overboard into the water and be bashed along the side of hull
while ingesting a good amount of ocean. Nor towed behind the vessel in its wake. Single
handers really have to be ahead of the power curve on this.
You want to be able to remain in a position that you can keep from drowning or injury. Trying to climb back onto the vessel from the water with a few feet of free board is going to be quite difficult and maybe impossible.
Off the stern, there may be a swim step or fixed ladder handles, but again, making way in thru the ocean, most of us, even tho in good physical condition that might be problematic pulling on a trailing line tied off at stern cleat.
In 36 years of sailing, never had anyone overboard, tho we practice man overboard procedures. The vessel is hove to, and on a vessel without a boarding ladder, or swim ladder, I take two strong lines and tie bowlines with a good sized loop in the ends, and drop one down well below the water line , the other above the water line. The person overboard can use that as a ladder, we can assist them on onboard.
Again, never had anyone one overboard, and only came close once, and
that person was me.
In the BVI, with another couple we were sailing a mid 30's Freedom, with a huge main stepped forward, and a small jib
with a metal jib
Off the back side of Tortola we were sailing wing and wing, and I had rigged a preventer for the main, that ran from the end of the main boom to the starboard forward deck cleat.
Well, we were on a tack that was taking is in toward the island, and it was
time to jibe as we needed to get back out to sea . The jib boom was on the port side. No preventer.
Erica is at the helm
, Nancy, a pilot for FED EX flying the heavies was at the main sheet ( which had an electric winch
that top speed was slow sloth).
I had to go up forward and release the preventer from the starboard bow cleat,
Nance was to haul in on the main sheet , we were closing in on land 'and ready to sheet the main ( center it ), Then we would slowly jibe the main over from a port to a starboard tack.
Up forward I released the preventer, and had turned to walk the preventer line back along the splashway, and free it from the end of the boom.
shift ! Crack !! I am hit at the base of the skull by that jib boom, when the fairly strong wind
shifted across the decks.
My body was now airborne and I am flying toward and over the starboard life line. Actually, it is interesting, time slowed down for me, I saw the life lines coming, and that I was well above them, and would clear them, and then overboard. I did not want to go overboard.
I dropped the preventer line, lowering both elbows making a dual
arresting hook with them. Catching the upper life line in the crook of my elbows , I still have a lot of momentum. My legs and body are perpendicular to the deck .....and wavering on falling back on board or over the life lines into the sea.
I fell back, and landed on the starboard fore deck. It was a good solid hit by that jib boom as it swung over with quite a bit of force impacting the back of my thick Irish skull.
Erica ordered Phil to come up and help me.
I counter- manded the order, " NO, finish sheeting the main, and jibe us out of here, let the jib swing back and broad reach us away from land. Sail the boat !
Getting up on my own I walked back aft to the stern and pulled the now trailing preventer in and released it from the end of the boom, coiled and stowed it.
The vessel was squared away, and we were on course for Jost Van Dyke.
Phil and Nancy were also volunteer ski patrol and rescue
squads back in Minnesota
...so they did that finger from side to side deal, checking my eyes. Aye, lads and lasses, ya can't kill and Irishman by hitting him in the head
Well, there was a sound lump on the back and just to the side at the base of my skull. They tied a red piece of cloth with ice in against the lump with a bloody red bow at the top of my head
. I ordered up a large drinking cup of Mount Gay Rum
, and all was well.
A very bad situation was averted, and the fault that it occurred was my not remembering that high angle jib boom. My attention was in releasing that preventer, watching the main coming to center, albeit very slowly before I was moving aft of the mast
The other problem was the slow operating electrical winch
on our bare boat Freedom. It was supposed to be operated electrically, and also if you hauled by hand, it would somehow break free of the winch for manual operation. Well, none of that super whizding invention live up to the hype.
: I was proud of the crew, working together and following orders to sail the boat our of our situation approaching land.
Not accidentally jibing the main, and trimming the sails
and holding a proper course away from Tortola, checking me out, and handing me a grand cup of rum
There were no recriminations, but there were photos of me with that silly red ice filled bandana with a giant bow resting on the top of my noggin.
Although Phil and Nancy were not sailors they were power boaters, and they actually flew out to Orange County, ahead of our trip to take a sailing
lesson with us, and also had read two basic sailing books
from their library.
Goes back to my not thinking about that jib boom, and not having sailed many vessels that had them, and never sailed another boat with an electric windlass
for the mainsail
This was quite some time ago, and I am sure that the new electric windlasses for the mains are more powerful, and can be manually operated as well. That was also the last freedom that I sailed, as the Benetetaus and the Jeanneau's were coming on scene and are now pretty standard for bare boat international sailing companies.
Main thing is not to put ourselves into a situation that we might wind up overboard, and it is also our responsibility as skippers to take extra good care of our crews and passengers.