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Old 09-01-2010, 13:17   #16
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Self Preservation is the key.

It is a question of self preservation. "Self" being the important part. My company specializes in IT Disaster Recovery. Things you can count on:
1. People never presume a disaster will occur so drills are so infrequent or dealt with so poorly as to be useless. Predesignated drills are my favorite. At my daughter's school they tell them a day in advance so teachers can schedule around it. Panic occurred when a stranger entered the school and they activated lock down without a pre-announcement.
2. Few people recognize a disaster in the moment. Many believe it a drill or figure someone will fix it before it affects them, so they take no action. Let face it, no one "fails" a drill.
3. Bystanders rarely help.
4. People plan for critical players to be available and they are most at risk.

So back to boating...
- Presume you have to save yourself because help is probably not coming. If help does come from outside that is a bonus. Forget Cell phones, satellite and Epirbs they only work if you have them and they are functional in an emergency. Sadly we fail to punish abuse of the system so Epirbs get ignored due to so many false alarms.
- Drill - Drill - Drill. MOB sure - but have you done an abandon ship drill? Hull breach? Engine Fire? Medical emergency?
- Know the facts about survival specific to you, your boat, your crew and your gear.
---Stay with your boat or move away if it is sinking?
--- what is most likely to save you if fall into the water at night?
--- what would you do if your life raft was gone or unusable? Your flares?
Electronics?
- Always ask "What Will Kill Them First?" That is what needs to be dealt with first. Anything non-fatal is secondary.
- Pick a number, roll a dice - that person fell overboard. If two people get the same number, the don't participate. If you always run the drills you may be dead if you fall overboard.
- Katrina taught us people, even those in charge, don't follow the plan. Have someone just stand screaming "save him! SAVE HIM!!!" while pointing randomly out on the water. It is distracting as hell and hard to ignore.
- If you travel with family, parents will jump into the water if a child falls in. Drill for that because you are not going to stop it at the time and maybe you shouldn't.

Finally, the last thing to consider is that if it is complex or difficult it will not be done or it will fail. It has to be simple. Presume failure of every component so you can have an alternative. The manual pump is useless without the handle that just washed overboard and the only way to know the life raft will inflate is to inflate it so presume it won't - now what?
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Old 09-01-2010, 13:30   #17
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Originally Posted by Blue Stocking View Post
Don,

Hence my earlier comments about stopping the boat. Part of a MOB drill we used to do was that each member would jump in with a PFD on. We circled the boat. allowed him to grab a trailed 200ft line, and attempt to pull himself back to the boat while sailing at about 5 knots. Very few guys can pull all the way back to the boat.
What was the point this drill? To prove that you really were going to die oif you were over even with the harness on?
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Old 09-01-2010, 14:07   #18
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Hence my earlier comments about stopping the boat.
I like this idea a lot. From reading the account of the guy who died during the ARC, he fell over midship and was apparently dangling next to the boat, probably get the heck beat out of him. The weather was too rough for two other vessels to transfer a crew memeber to help for two days. Even if something got deployed behind the boat, it would not have helped this fellow as he was dangling Midship, the decison would have to be made to cut loose and hope you could grad the trailing device. I don't think a recoiling tether would have helped either, would need something a lot bigger like a winch. This guy apparently didn't last long and they never did get him back on the boat, I understand after two days they just cut him loose. So stopping the boat seems like the only good solution, then perhaps even a young or inexperienced crew could tie off a line and throw it to you then cut the tether and make your way back to the stern and climb aboard... scary thought indeed...

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Old 09-01-2010, 14:32   #19
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Epirbs get ignored due to so many false alarms.
Is that really true in your part of the world? It sure ain't in this part of the world.
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Old 09-01-2010, 16:56   #20
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To answer the original question - not very. Stay on the boat and don't bump into anything.
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Old 09-01-2010, 19:05   #21
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But it would be simple to winch him in. We have tested that in a drill.

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What was the point this drill? To prove that you really were going to die oif you were over even with the harness on?
If a boat has a stern ladder, slow the boat, attach the person over the rail to a spin sheet, cut the tether, and winch him back. A child would be strong enough. I tested this method with my 10-year old recovering 170-pound me.
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Old 09-01-2010, 19:20   #22
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Paradix - "ignored" was very poor wording on my part. Some ridiculously large number of EPIRB false alarms occur each year. An unregistered EPIRB will delay response as it goes through the international satellite system and then to the Coast Guard. Even when registered, people fail to read the instructions so they trigger false alarms while moving the units or "testing them." Failing to recognize that a test or accidental activation of an active EPIRB incurs a fine and risks SAR personnel. Discarded EPIRB triggers a $5,500 fine

Pop quiz: Will your EPIRB operate under water?
Well that all depends on what you mean by "operate." Most units will activate under water. What many also say is the signal is unreadable below water more than a few inches deep. Is your unit located where it can float free to the surface if activated?
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Old 09-01-2010, 19:54   #23
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The following link shows some test results of harnesses and tethers by US Sailing. Quite a few failures!

US SAILING - Safety At Sea - Safety Studies - 1999 Harness and Tether Study

This is of big interest to us because we are in the process of making decisions on these items.

Mike
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Old 09-01-2010, 20:17   #24
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My two cents worth.

As pointed out, flares are not so good at attracting attention when no one is expecting them. However, if you have managed to get off a Mayday via VHF, sat phone, or whatever, it makes it a lot easier for someone who is looking to spot you. The ocean is a very big place even when viewed from an aircraft, even if you know someone is down there somewhere needing help. Flares or smoke tucked in your lifejacket pocket could make a huge difference if you fall overboard and your crew is looking for you.

How not to drown while being pulled along by a tether: The smart thing to do is roll over on your back, letting the tether pull across your chest and over your shoulder. The idea is to sort of body surf on your back. The water will rush by on either side of your head, but you will have a space to keep your face out of the water and breathe. Whitewater kayakers and rafters use this approach when rescuing someone from a fast moving current with a throw bag, and it does work. It buys the COB time to breathe while the rest of the crew slows the boat and figures out how to retieve him/her.

Cold water: If you fall overboard without a tether in very cold water, you have roughly 10 minutes (plus or minus) that you can keep yourself afloat. After that, without floatation, you will drown. With a lifejacket, you have at least an hour (on average) before losing consciousness from hypothermia. Thus, without a lifejacket, your crew has a very short window to circle back and retrieve you (via quick stop, figure 8,...whatever). With a life jacket, they have a bit more time to look for you, alert other vessels in the area, etc. This can be especially important for shorthanded crews or inexperienced crews who may not make the perfect retrieval manauever. People argue endlessly about what kind of lifejacket is best. I think the best one is the one you will actually wear! The most basic inflatable vest you are wearing is hugely better than the perfect Class I stowed in the locker!

Obviously, the best thing is to not go into the water in the first place, no argument there. However, sh!t does happen, even to experienced sailors.
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Old 09-01-2010, 22:38   #25
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I have an epirb a 6 person raft, harnesses, personnel strobes,dsc linked to gps on vhf and ssb mast head strobe, emergency tiller, through hull plugs etc...... everyone of these devices has failed in one story or another. also everyone of these has saved someones ass. Ive read stories of rafts being ripped off decks epirbs that didn't deploy rafts that shredded or failed. Just re read the perfect storm and much of this equipment failed for many reasons on many different vessels. I sailed a boat that had jack zero of any equipment like this and got caught in a fast moving deppresion 80 knots of wind and seas that we surfed down. That was the very edge. Having the equipment would not have changed how we handled the situation. Certainly though a failure or mistake with no communication or raft we were dangerously near dead. I have children now so a different obligation then i once had. Technology is better weather forecasts are better data bases for failuures and experience are readily available. All this to say cover your ass maintain youur boat and select with great thought the equipment that is right for you and how you may use it. For instance Sabray has Mob pole and life sling. Even with those if someone is off the side the chances in a bad sea of spotting these is not good hopefully the mob has a strobe or flare. Don't go over the side we have all read that enough. Good anchor points and teathers might be primary, I replaced one of the 1/2" Edson stearing base bolts with an Eyebolt All of which has suubstantial backer plates. Nice point to tie into. Everything that is maintained well is safety gear. Stearing gear, engine, thru hulls, furling system, hatches, yaddah dahh. It is stunning how fast things that look fine can hit the other side of horrific. It is rare yes and maybe I have knack for finding near disaters. They have taught me somethng mostly take no moment for granted. Constant vigallance is serenity
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Old 10-01-2010, 03:10   #26
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harness line length seems to not get the attention it should, how many of us feel they have tghe strength to pull ourselves up the line to get back onto the boat?
I think this is one of the area's that's often missed in training, how to get the person out. I recently read an article in YM about a guy who couldn't pull his friend back onboard and subsequently drowned. When the CG arrived they had to let down one side of their rib to haul him in..

My current thoughts on the subject is if there is rough weather and I'm somewhere with a good lifeboat service and I'm in safe waters e.g. Solent. I'd rather stand-off and wait for the coast-guard to come and pull them out.

If I did have to pull them out depending on how heavy/tired they are and how many people I had on board I would either try getting them on the back or winching them up the side.

What's everyone else's thoughts?
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Old 10-01-2010, 06:04   #27
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As for epirbs being ignored, I know Falmouth CG UK investgate all alerts from around the world sea and air untell they prove them to be false.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:12   #28
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Some ridiculously large number of EPIRB false alarms occur each year.
Right, so they don't actually get "ignored", but what happens is that the Coast Guard most definitely does NOT launch an immediate rescue mission as soon as a signal comes in. They begin with the assumption that it is a false alarm, just because something like 85% of the signals they get are. Then they start trying to determine if it is real or false. They check it out. They look you up in the database. They try to find out where you were last seen and where you were heading. They try to verify that it is legitimate. They try to find and contact "next of kin."

So, if you are hoping that 5 minutes after you press the button the cavalry is on the way... FORGET IT! It's probably going to be closer to 5 hours, or at the very least 40 or 50 minutes, before they even decide that a rescue attempt should be started.
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Old 12-01-2010, 13:43   #29
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Quote:
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I have often thought that the biggest fear for single-handed sailors, or for boats on which the guests are not competent boat handlers, is the boat sailing away from you, and out of reach by the time you surface from falling in.
Has anyone experimented with a set-up along these lines.
The aft end of the jackline passes thru a guide, and is anchored to an extension spring which ,in turn,is fixed to the hull at its aft end. Trapped in this extension spring coils, is a device, like the red safety used on small outboard motor throttles.
This device, by any one of various means controls the release of a stern-tube float and line (maybe something like Life-sling) which by gravity drops and trolls out behind the boat. The other end of the line could be led to the wheel, tiller, windvane, power shut-off for autopilot (break the circuit), anything to put the boat out of trim to luff up and stop sailing.
Pull yourself back to the boat, and deploy some type of access ladder, or such.
Thinking about this, it makes a good Summer project.
If some-one wishes to make this a new thread, I would love to see what this group would come up with.
I believe Robin Knox Johnson used a similar set-up on his Round the World race in the 60's..... trailed a line knotted at regular intervals to give him hand holds....
Mind he also used to dive of the bow and swim till level with the stern then grab hold and climb back on board....
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Old 12-01-2010, 14:08   #30
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I find several things about the study very intersting....

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeandrebecca View Post
The following link shows some test results of harnesses and tethers by US Sailing. Quite a few failures!

US SAILING - Safety At Sea - Safety Studies - 1999 Harness and Tether Study

This is of big interest to us because we are in the process of making decisions on these items.

Mike
Let me start by saying I have 25 years of mountaineering and engineering experience, and know a lot about falling onto harnesses.

1. They did not measure the impact force in the dynamic test, or at least it was not in the summary. How do we know that the strongest tether would not have killed the user by breaking his spine or ribs? OSHA and UIAA (climbing gear standard) test require impact force limitations.
2. Only 2 tethers have built-in impact arresting features; the OSHA tether and the Survival Technologies tether. I have commented on this for years and I do not understand WHY marine tethers do not include sacrificial impact absorbers, as required by OSHA and implied by UIAA.

So, the only alternative is to design carefully engineered stretch in the jackline system to provide this shock absorption. This requires boat-specific consideration. I have posted some thoughts on my blog, but your boat is different and so are the answers. Sail Delmarva: Search results for climbing gear jacklines unemployed. You could, of couse, use a commercial tether or add a climbing absorber to the harness end.

Climbers and construction workers have been killed by the short stop at the end of a tether.
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