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Old 06-09-2016, 19:13   #1
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Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

so i read over and over of solo sailors tethering themselves to their boats as a safety precaution. good stuff and i'm an advocate but...

i recently read Istvan kopars book of his first circumnavigation. If your not familiar...this guy was is peak physical condition as a man for his first circumnavigation. In his book he describes being on a shakedown sail with a buddy. he decides to jump in as the boat is sailing along and get dragged by a tethered fender if i remember correctly off the stern for a fun tow/swim. he then describes not being able to pull himself back to the boat from the dragging fender/rope.

there are pictures of this guy at the time and he is muscular and in very good physical shape. i got to wondering....if any of us tethered solo sailors actually fell over, you have to remember...if your thrown overboard chances are its moderately severe conditions, would we actually be able to really pull ourselves back aboard on a slick rope, under probably severe conditions being dragged by the weight of a many ton ship moving at 6+ knots?

my question is has anyone here actually had to do this? has anyone ever tethered themselves with friends aboard and purposely jumped in to see if they actually could?

i'm not questioning the act of tethering ourselves to a boat but is there a right way and a wrong way to do this so you actually have a realistic chance of pulling yourself back aboard, alone in the worse case scenario?

to add to this....im a humongous fan of Laura Dekker. i was watching her documentary last night for the 50th or so time and i noticed her harness. she was clicking in her harness from the back. ive tethered myself sailing alone and i can only assume from experience clicking in from the back causes less snags moving around on deck but.... when i thought about it though i imagined being thrown overboard like that. you essentially would be dragged backwards from the weight of a 20 thousand or so pound ship moving at many knots speed. her harness looked off the shelf made but that would mean you would be dragged backwards and would have to summon the strength to not only turn yourself around against humongous forces but then pull yourself back aboard.

wow...i'm in pretty good shape but that seems like a tall order even when its life or death and the adrenaline kicks in...
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Old 06-09-2016, 19:38   #2
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

Not on purpose, but in the 1980's while delivering a maxi down the West Coast of US in December I was washed overboard at night during a storm .

This was by a rogue sea off the Columbia River when we were hove to, but I was securing something that had cone loose.

My tether was too long and it would have been impossible to climb back on board the 65' boat. Luckily, another wave washed me back on board, broken ribs and all. Young and stupid in those days:...
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Old 06-09-2016, 19:45   #3
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

No way I could...I'm not in high school anymore and our boat has a 5ft free-board.
A thether is only good in my opinion if it keeps you from falling overboard, once you fall overboard you just become a fishing lure and will be lucky if you are not drowned.
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Old 06-09-2016, 20:49   #4
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

DO NOT try this tethered, even with crew onboard. As it's a good way to drown. Even if they slow the boat to 2kts & you're tethered to it, along side, you'll be lucky to survive.
There are plenty of tests by sailing magazines & similar which show as much, via their testing. Ditto on one or two CF members who've experienced it.


As to the original question. Remember what it was like when you were first learning how to waterski? Nuff said
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Old 06-09-2016, 21:15   #5
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

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Originally Posted by UNCIVILIZED View Post
DO NOT try this tethered, even with crew onboard. As it's a good way to drown. Even if they slow the boat to 2kts & you're tethered to it, along side, you'll be lucky to survive.
There are plenty of tests by sailing magazines & similar which show as much, via their testing. Ditto on one or two CF members who've experienced it.


As to the original question. Remember what it was like when you were first learning how to waterski? Nuff said
wow! i posted the question because its been on my mind and popped up tonight. hadn't actually even started researching yet. very chilling articles after a quick google search.

surprising how many people i talk to (including myself) have never actually given it much deep thought. making me re-think the entire set up of a tether.

I think SV Third Day made a very important comment. It only works if it keeps you on the deck.
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Old 06-09-2016, 21:54   #6
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

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Originally Posted by er9 View Post
I think SV Third Day made a very important comment. It only works if it keeps you on the deck.
100% Correct. Tether length and jacklines/strongpoints should be designed to keep you in the boat.
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Old 06-09-2016, 22:15   #7
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

I'm more concerned about those moderate weather days when I may not be taking things as seriously as I should! I haven't fallen off yet. My tether is 3 feet and it is a hassle to walk around sometimes. I'm ok with that. 3 feet means that if I fall, my hands should be fairly close to whatever I'm hooked onto, and certainly the gunwale. I THINK I could still pull myself up that far. I'll have to try this weekend... at 4 knots, if you are dragging, no way. And like UNCIVILIZED says even 2 knots, I wouldn't want to test it. Just dragging your legs... still going to be tough I bet. I know racers have 3' and 6', but they have other people to pull them back in.
The edge of the boat is a 500 foot cliff... who said that?
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Old 07-09-2016, 01:20   #8
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

https://sites.google.com/site/design4seashop/safety

https://youtu.be/pzwAT7OmFv0

Interesting self rescue concept. Worth looking at the rest of the site as well.
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:29   #9
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

I went over the bow once where the hull is narrow, and the Jackline runs right up the center. My tether was short enough that I could just reach the toe rail with both hands. I did pull myself back up with some difficulty, and did it fast enough that my crew member didn't have time to stop the boat and come forward. I was lucky (or maybe unlucky) that when I went over, I broke the pelican hooks on the lifelines, so they were not a hinderance to me regaining the deck. I was utterly exhausted, bruised and bleeding, but survived.

Now had I not been tethered, I would likely not be here to write this; it was in a blow and at night. When it comes down to survival, regaining the deck is not easy, but is survivable. IMHO, once you no longer have any connection to the boat you are done.
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Old 07-09-2016, 03:39   #10
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

ME... About 25 yrs ago... before I had roller furling... I headed out with a friend after a night in protected West Harbor into a very strong SW wind and rather steep seas with a 100 mile fetch. I had to change to a small jib from the genoa.

Harness on I took the jib bag to the foredeck.... clipped myself to the slotted toe rail and began to tie the jib bag to the cleat. Plan was to then douse the genny, tie it... and then hank on the jin and stuff the genny in the sail bag.

Boat was on AP and motoring slowing into the wind (and the sea) and bow fell into a huge trough and then up on the next crest and I was tossed up into the air tethered to the toe rail. Next trough the boat dropped and dragging me down and over the lifelines and into the water over the starboard side.

This happened to be the lee side and so we were heeled and I was being dragged along tethered. I was able to actually get my leg onto the deck and around a stanchion and pull myself aboard. I wasn't in long and I supposed I didn't feel like staying there either.

I unclipped and crawled back to the cockpit.

No more hank on sails... I switched to ProFurl and love it.

Harness... Lirakis with 2 - 6' tethers (one connected all the time)

Freeboard at the bow is about 5'
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:32   #11
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Not on purpose, but in the 1980's while delivering a maxi down the West Coast of US in December I was washed overboard at night during a storm .

This was by a rogue sea off the Columbia River when we were hove to, but I was securing something that had cone loose.

My tether was too long and it would have been impossible to climb back on board the 65' boat. Luckily, another wave washed me back on board, broken ribs and all. Young and stupid in those days:...
On a delivery to the USVIs in 2009, I was on watch and was admiring the stars from the center cockpit of a Bristol 45.5. That meant I was on my back (not sleeping). The stars went a little wobbly and a second later, the boat was thrown over 45 degrees in a clear-air squall. The Velcro holding the cockpit cushion gave way and I slid toward the now quite close sea. The short (three foot) tether I had snapped onto a padeye in the pedestal kept me from getting more than wet feet. I hauled myself back up it, using my foot as a lever on the life line I would have otherwise slipped straight under, eased off the main and the boat stood up. Ninety seconds later, the squall had passed and I composed myself. The skipper appeared and I said "all's well, just a brief squall".

The short version? Tethering on alone in the cockpit was a boat rule. Tethering on with the short tether was pure luck on my part and allowed me to get away with bruising and to remedy the boat's heel. Had I done the six-foot length, I would have sledded off the side and likely been injured or worse. There was no recovery that would have worked at that time and place.
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:36   #12
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

Something like this was the first question I asked on CF, and got lots of helpful responses in this thread: Safety Harness Purpose & Placement
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:40   #13
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

Interesting topic.... I guess the answer is to keep the tether short enough that you and pull yourself up... that means if you go overboard maybe only your legs get wet... which means you have to have places to connect to repeatedly if you move around the deck to keep the tether short.
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:48   #14
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

I don't have any personal experience with this, but www.morganscloud.com, an offshore cruising blog, with an incredible library of good info, recently did an extensive series on this issue, and the results are very illuminating (and not encouraging). They have some good suggestions for making it more likely that a successful recovery can be made.
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Old 07-09-2016, 08:49   #15
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Re: Has anyone ever fallen over tethered and tried to pull themselves back in?

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Originally Posted by sailingfarmer View Post
Interesting topic.... I guess the answer is to keep the tether short enough that you and pull yourself up... that means if you go overboard maybe only your legs get wet... which means you have to have places to connect to repeatedly if you move around the deck to keep the tether short.

Let's look at this...

My experience was that I clipped to deck with a 6' tether and the stanchions are 2' tall...

2+2= 4' leaves the harness attachment 2' below the toe rail IFFFFFFFFF I was directly below

BUT as the boat was moving the line was at an angle.... lets say 45 on

1.4x2 = 2.8

2.8 + 2.8 = 5.6' making the harness attachment about 4" below the toe rail

+++++

3' harness... 2 foot stanchion

I would be dangling over the life line or impaled on a stanchion... not sure whether I could get on board.

What do you think?

++++

the jack lines were attached to the bow cleat and up there so it would have been about the same except the snap shackle might slide aft.
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