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Old 28-10-2011, 10:23   #1
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MOB, Rescue Craft and Dinghy Storage

Following a couple of interesting recent threads on MOB Recovery, Heaving-to with a Catamaran and Dinghy Storage, I’d like to share my thoughts on a couple of points. After owning various boats and doing many charters, we have cruised our Leopard 42 along Central America for three winters since my retirement from a career in Technical Risk Management and Emergency Response in the oil industry. Integrating those experiences brings me to this philosophy.

MOB Recovery: Simpler is always better in initial emergency response. More complex response can be undertaken as additional resources are brought to bear. Tim Schaaf’s excellent description of heaving-to his catamaran for MOB recovery seems to me a huge improvement on the more traditionally taught methods. Even the ‘quick stop’ is a bit too involved for the average sailor who practices it rarely to execute in an emergency situation. For a couple cruising, the risk of losing sight of the MOB is high. Far better to just stop the boat ASAP and work MOB recovery from a stable platform. The particulars must be worked out for each individual boat, but the concept is sound. Practice is essential.

Getting an actual MOB back onboard is seldom practiced and likely to be a brutal experience in anything but calm water. I’d like to see an inflatable slide, something like the aircraft emergency exit slide, to provide a ramp for hauling the MOB back on board. Unfortunately, few boats have the room or budget for such. A boarding ramp could be adapted. Our plan is to use the dinghy davits and tackle as a hoist and bring the MOB up onto our stern platform between the sugar scoops. The Lifesling tackle and spinnaker halyard are the alternate system. Even better would be if the MOB were in the dinghy for transfer to the boat, which leads us to:


Dinghy Storage: Our RIB, an 11’ APEX with electric-start 15 HP outboard and wheel steering is a capable rescue craft for certain situations. As such, I keep it ready for quick launch from the davits. It is secured against movement by lines that could be cut loose in an instant. A long floating tether would let the dinghy fall back under control until the engine was started (or recovered if the davits failed). Whether it be for search & rescue of a MOB, getting a kedge out quickly after running aground, assisting another boat in trouble, or abandoning ship together with liferaft and ditch bag, the dinghy is a very important tool for emergency response. Many prefer to store the dinghy securely on deck, against the potential damage or loss of the dinghy from davits in a storm. Each boat configuration and passage is different, and such could certainly happen, but for us the probability is low and the consequences are no more than a lost dinghy. For us, the rapid deployment of the rescue craft outweighs the risk of losing the dinghy. (The risk of losing it to theft in Central America was far greater).

So whether you agree with these particulars or not, give it some thought. Thinking through possible emergency scenarios and responses is your best investment against loss.
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Old 28-10-2011, 18:52   #2
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Well my boat is sailed by two people. If one is overboard , it seems to me to be a really bad idea for the other to leave the boat on the dingy. How about if your 15 hp yamaha decide to stop just on the worst possible moment? Imagine you watch your boat slowly hove to away at just a knot. I don't think you can swim at one knot. However it can be a good idea if you sail with a larger crew.
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Old 29-10-2011, 10:28   #3
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Re: MOB, Rescue Craft and Dinghy Storage

I agree with not leaving the boat without someone aboard, Hector. As I said, "in certain situations......". Recovery of a MOB when sailing only as a couple would truly be a tough situation. For this reason I like the heave-to method, which would improve the odds of maintaining sight of the MOB.
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