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Old 06-02-2011, 00:52   #1
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Challenge: Outboard Lifelines

OK, picture this: I'm soloing along and doing the right thing when I head up for’ard, with my harness clipped on to the jack-lines. But as it will ,s**t happens and I’m over or through the lifelines before I know it, being dragged along at 5 knots. The autohelm is indifferent to my cries, so the old tub will keep going until the battery runs flat or the wind changes or we hit the rocks, maybe in 5 minutes or maybe in a couple of days.
I can’t haul myself up to the deck, so I reach for my knife and cut the tether and hopefully I can hand-over-hand my way along the lifelines to the stern. This requires me to hold on strongly enough to support my body weight plus contend with the drag force. Once I reach the stern hopefully I can climb the ladder. Of course if I lose hold at any point I’m fish-food.

Now, consider an alternative: I read in one of Jimmy Cornell’s books how he has a line on each side draped outboard of the lifelines, running from bow to stern, and I started to wonder: if I have a dual tether, or maybe a dedicated very short one as well as the main one, in theory I could use this to clip onto the “outboard lifeline”, then cut my main tether. Then I’d be swept along and fetch up at the stern where I might have some chance of getting onto the ladder. There’s lots of “if’s” in this alternate scenario, but even so it seems the second tether and outboard lifeline give me a better chance than without.

Of course it would be better if the tether didn't let me go overboard, but I can;t see how I could arrange that on my boat while still allowing all the access I need, and I don't want to be transferrring the tether to other strong points while I'm on deck.

I’m not all that experienced and have never been part of an MOB situation, so this is all my speculation. So all you old salts, I’m all ears.

Cheers, lockie
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:13   #2
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Where is your swim ladder? If it's off the transom then the ropes will have to be long enough to get caught in your prop. Not a pretty thing.
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:29   #3
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Wow, I can actually visually picture that scenario happening.

My heart being set on a Canoe stern, I have imagined the same problem:
What if I fall off and end up behind the ladder?
With no stern pulpit, ladder or dink to reach up to, what happens next?

Great question, looking forward to hearing what others have to say.
To add to the question, is there any recommended technical reading in regards to proper rigging for tether and lifelines?
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:03   #4
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How about one of these clipped to your harness, if you go over clip to the nearest point and climb up. If it was clipped to your harness/tether attachment you could maybe use it to pull yourself high enough to get back on deck (practice before relying on it though).
Pocket Aiders

Patient....... fit a ladder or some steps on the stern. No point in admiring the clean lines of your stern as the boat sails away from you.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:38   #5
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Remember, my yacht is belting along on a lovely (well it was when I was still aboard) broad reach, so the Pocket Aider, being flexible, would be swirling all over the place. I reckon getting my feet into it would be darn near impossible.

And the idea is to have the lines a bit above water level, lashed to the pulpit and pushpit. Nowhere near the prop.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:38   #6
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This only applies while motoring but I have been thinking about a life line that kills the engine, it pulls a cut off switch and stll stays attached to the boat... Maybe one that could also turn the rudder when the sails are up when you pull it so the boat will go circle. I'd think an egineer could design a dual purpose system for a couple hundred dollars for both wind or power shut off.
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Old 06-02-2011, 02:53   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lockie View Post
Remember, my yacht is belting along on a lovely (well it was when I was still aboard) broad reach, so the Pocket Aider, being flexible, would be swirling all over the place. I reckon getting my feet into it would be darn near impossible.

And the idea is to have the lines a bit above water level, lashed to the pulpit and pushpit. Nowhere near the prop.
While I agree that it wouldn't be easy using the aider I think it would be easier than hanging off the back of the boat and trying to pull forward with just arm strength to the stern ladder when hanging off the ropes. I have experience of pulling myself on to a rib when diving in a current of 6knots and I was wearing fins, it is very very difficult (I can do 1 arm pull ups btw) .
What ever your choice, practice practice practice.
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:42   #8
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As you identify - no magic solution.........

I can't say I would rate my chances of re-boarding from the water up the hull sides - not unaided, and even then might be touch and go. soon be out of puff.

Having an outboard lifeline rigged would at least give you an option - a trailing inflatable dinghy would maybe be the target?

Of course staying onboard in the first place is the real magic solution to a MOB. My faves on that are bulwarks (or at least a good few inches of toerail), good handholds in the right places / height, good deck shoes, clear decks. and clipping on. and being aware of what is around. and having the deck / mast work well organised and practised.....and a helmsman you can trust.
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:56   #9
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I've been reading a lot about this topic the last couple of days. One thing that has been referred to, but not thouroughly explained is...

What tasks on deck need to be done that would require a tether length of more than half the beam width?

If you can't fall off, then all of the above is moot, right? Two tethers. One half the beam at its widest, one half the beam at the bow. Never have them both unclipped at the same time. Doesn't seem too hard.
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Old 06-02-2011, 04:39   #10
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..............If you can't fall off, then all of the above is moot, right? Two tethers. One half the beam at its widest, one half the beam at the bow. Never have them both unclipped at the same time. Doesn't seem too hard.
I like this plan,- I use this plan. I also wonder how many, when picturing the original scenario, had the image of the person going forward on the high side (the windward side). I know the function of the toe rail would lure people to go forward on the leeward side, but I find more security with the likely forces tossing me toward the center of the vessel from the windward rail. I do use a short added clip on teather to my harness for attachment at staged locations going forward.
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:48   #11
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Its a good idea.. for those who use tethers... a good dock line made up on the forecleat and lead outside the guardrails to the stern then hauled tight and made fast.... only thing I might add is a trailing loop at water level for you to get a knee in to help haul yourself outa the still substancial drag at each aft corner as its unlikely you'll have enough play to reach the centre where the ladders likely to be... and unclipping now is NOT a good idea..
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:56   #12
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We favour tethers that are NOT long enough for us to go overboard. Yes a harness and tether can be a pain, but nearly as much a pain as going overboard. I doubt I would be able to pull myself back onto the boat. the exact thing happened to a friend of mine, who banged against the hull in rough weather until a wave hit the boat in such a way allowing her to wrap a leg around a stanchion and get back on board. dont think i want to trust on that bit of luck happening.
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Old 06-02-2011, 11:18   #13
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Two-headed tethers seem to make the most sense to me, plus very taut jacklines that would impede falling off in the first place. Lastly, netting at the bow, while to some might seem lubberly, keeps sails and sailors tamed at the spot in the boat both most exposed and moving the fastest when pitching.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:07   #14
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I assume this refers to boats on passage and not day sailing close to land.

Having read through the posts I can see that some means for getting back on board would be a sensible precaution.

I would suggest a number of short lengths of rope with a loop at one end and a snap shackle at the other end. The loop end just trailing in the water. The snap shackle can be easily clipped to the toe rail or lifeline stanchions.

The number required being dependant on the size and construction of the boat. But sufficient for attachment to both sides at points where climbing back on-board can
be facilitated.

Advantages - easily and quickly fixed and removed. Not long enough to get pulled into the prop, cost effective.

Disadvantages - Please comment if you can envisage any
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:45   #15
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Rig the points for your tether so that you cannot go overboard.

Some singlehanders will tow a long floating line with a float at the end. The line is rigged the way that pulling on it with good force will disengage the wind steering. The boat slows and you can pull yourself in along the line. In theory.

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