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Old 21-07-2009, 07:08   #16
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Im always sail with a 150 ft yellow line atached to a life ring towed in the stern, if i fall overboard i have a better chance to cacht the ring and back to the boat, if i miss the ring, make noise.

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Old 21-07-2009, 07:08   #17
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Even with the best of planing and preparation, shoot does happen, and its entirely possible for someone to go over the side (been there, done that!). As previously noted, a short tether is a wise precaution and may keep one far enough above the water that one can reach the rail and hoist oneself aboard--if one is fit enough. If not...

When my wife and I are on passage, we do a couple of things. Firstly, our tethers are two part with a long tail and a short one and, generally, unless we're moving about on deck, we rely on the short tail (<6'). In no case do we disconnect one tail until the other's been connected so that there is never a point when one is not secured to the yacht. Secondly, our inflatable life-vests and harnesses include an ear-splitting whistle secured by a lanyard and fastened to the shoulder strap with a velcro patch. If necessary, one can wake the dead with the things. Next, we do not leave the cockpit without wakening the off-watch. It can be a pain in the neck sometimes, but the alternative is worse.


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Old 21-07-2009, 07:08   #18
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There are electronic devices, in degrees of complexity, available which sound an alarm if someone falls overboard. One can also be attached to the dinghy in case someone "borrows" it, or it comes loose.

Search for "man overboard alarm" you'll find a bunch.

Never used one so can't offer any firsthand experience.
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Old 21-07-2009, 07:48   #19
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If you have a watch alarm installed and it is active then when it goes off in ten minutes or less you might not have drowned by then and your watch partner can hopefully rescue you.
" Wisdom; is your reward for surviving your mistakes"
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Old 21-07-2009, 08:18   #20
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Let's assume that the seas are calm and you are being dragged along outside of a wake. Let's also assume that the harness is such that it lets you turn onto your back and surf along without danger of drowning immediately and you have the luxury of a bit of time without having to expend energy.
You realize that you don't have the upper body strength required to pull you up and out. But anyone (assisted by mother nature's energy boost supplied by the adrenal gland) can pull themselves partway at a time, so the idea is to get back aboard a couple of inches at a time - but how?
If you have shoes with laces or have a professional harness (with one extra clip-on rope/webbing) then maybe you have a chance. Although we might not know the more specialized or esoteric knots as the prussic hitch, anyone who has sailed for a while will have tied a simple rolling hitch and can hopefully remember how to during this stressful moment. Tie a rolling hitch to the taut lifeline, attach the standing end to the harness so that the knot is about 2 or so feet away. Then comes the part where fear gives you sufficient strength to use one hand to pull on the lifeline and the other to push the rolling hitch forward. Or maybe both hands to pull and your teeth to push the hitch. Rest and repeat as required. Once enough slack is on the main lifeline, perhaps a quick single Angler's loop or bowline-in-a-bight (I've never tried that) to use as a stirrup for a foot and as a leverage point to continue using the rolling hitch. Chances of this working are minimal but I can't think of any other method that is more condusive to continued existence.
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Old 21-07-2009, 09:21   #21
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That's an interesting idea, Zanshin. I've used the Prussic knot on a safety line with my climbing harness when going up the mast steps. It worked quite well when I tested it, slipping up, but not down when under load, so I'd expect it could work as you suggest in an overboard situation.

When sailing alone I sometimes hang a length of line with a couple of loops tied in off the stern, thinking that I could use it to climb up onto the sugar scoop. Short enough that it can't get into the prop. I've tried it successfully when anchored, but never when under way.

Sailing offshore with crew, my rule is no one leaves the cockpit unless someone else is topside to take the watch, day or night. If by yourself topside, you must be tethered, and at night everyone topside is tethered. The idea is not to fall over in the first place. It can happen, though. A friend of mine was adjusting sails in the cockpit after dark when a wave hit the boat broadside. He was flung across the seat and combing ending up with his arse sticking over the side between the two lifelines. He was tethered, but couldn't get unstuck immediately. He screamed his lungs out until crew below rushed up to haul him back in.
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Old 21-07-2009, 10:08   #22
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All good and very interesting answers guys. I was once a water babe, always on or in the sea, boating, skiing, fishing surfing and then one day I left the coast and moved to the middle of the country for work.

That was 31 years ago and somewhere along the way, ive lost my nerve a little. I see a lot more danger now, I have suffered a lot of drowning nightmares and I cant watch films involving drowning scenes like Titanic or The Perfect Storm.

But, I also know fear is irrational and is best faced and dealt with. Making sure you dont go over the side is the most sensible thing but accidents happen, so awareness is important.

Next question

What are the chances of becoming shark bait if you just happen to go over the side?
Sorry, its another irrational fear
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Old 21-07-2009, 11:06   #23
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Originally Posted by anjou View Post
What are the chances of becoming shark bait if you just happen to go over the side?

Sorry, its another irrational fear
I gather that you're really asking, "What are the chances of being eaten alive by a shark?" Otherwise, if you've already drowned, what does it matter which species on the food chain makes use of the windfall?

You would probably be astonished to know that about 100,000,000 sharks are killed each year by humans (and this is only based on reported catch numbers), while the number of humans attacked by sharks each year is about 100, with only about 20 resulting in fatalities. These numbers suggest your odds are pretty good.

It kind of depends on where you happen to go overboard. Some areas are more thickly populated with sharks than others, but sharks, like gold, are where you find them - which could be anywhere.

You may have seen this image before, and know the story already, but for others it makes interesting reading:

"Your vision becomes clear only when you look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks within, awakens."
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)
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Old 21-07-2009, 12:23   #24
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Good overboard question to discuss Anjou, as you can see it does happen and in fact I have been washed overboard twice.

Both in storm conditions.

The first time, as last man on top, before we hove to …(December off the Oregon Coast) while clipped to the long line and just finishing putting storm plates on the Dorade vents, a breaking wave washed me over and about 2 series later I was jerked back on board, cracking some ribs on the lifeline.

2nd time more human error of waiting too long to shorten sail and the headsail lifted me off the deck and into the water. (Hung on for dear life and scrambled up the sheets with help from my shipmates)

These days, weather warnings allow you to prepare way ahead of time and safe cruising standards and sail handling equipment that keeps you safely tethered within the cockpit... reduces the risk immensely.

But if you do find yourself on your own… hanging on to a line, while being dragged along try and take a wrap under your armpits and wait for some easing of the stress to tie a one handed bowline (practice) to secure yourself until help arrives or wind conditions change so that you can create a foothold and scramble aboard as others have suggested

As far as sharks wanting to nibble at you while lashed to the boat……If you are bleeding, only the really hungry ones would overcome their fear of the boat and hit.

Just hit back!
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Old 21-07-2009, 13:47   #25
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Yell louder than you ever have in your life and don't stop!
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Old 21-07-2009, 17:18   #26
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The way I figure this...

You have at least one 6' tether attached at your chest to a jack line about a foot inboard of the life line which are about 24" high minimum.

When you are over the life lines the tether has 2 foot from the jack line to the line line and then another 2 foot to the toe rail and then 2 feet to the harness on your chest.

Your reach from the harness point is about 3 feet meaning you sould be able to reach the toe rail with your two hands.

If you are being dragged along you might be even "closer" to the toe rail and as it was in my case, close enough to throw your leg up and slither in under the life lines.

If the freeboard is high enough you'll dangle straight down and then you'll have to pull yourself up... but you also may be able to swing yourself and get a leg up.

I suggest anyone who wonders about this put your harness on and jump over board tethered to the live line and try to get on board while at anchor and work out how to get back aboard.
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Old 21-07-2009, 17:45   #27
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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
my rule is no one leaves the cockpit unless someone else is topside to take the watch, day or night
that makes a lot of sense .. seems pretty much fail safe.
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Old 21-07-2009, 18:03   #28
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we use the same rule

Originally Posted by gonesail View Post
that makes a lot of sense .. seems pretty much fail safe.
no one is allowed outboard of the coming unless someone else is in the cockpit.

the off-watch sleeps better knowing that the on-watch is still aboard. what this means is that you should never hesitate to wake the off-watch if you feel the need to go forward. over the course of a passage, everyone gets better sleep because of this rule.

fortunately, it's very rare that anyone would need to go forward of the dodger on my boat during a passage. you'd only need to do that to set the chute, and we don't singlehand the chute.
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 21-07-2009, 18:55   #29
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You are doing a great job of thinking these things out, that is the mark of a good sailor. Your fears are healthy fears, and will keep you alive.

Because many sailors have drowned tethered to their boats, I would focus on the prevention. To rely on being able to pull yourself up from the water is too risky, there are too many factors - injury, loss of consciousness, boat speed, and sea conditions to name a few. To ensure a good outcome, prevention is the focus. Always tether in (day and night), have a double tether, and have a jackline system where you cannot fall past the toe rail.

Hope your boat shopping is going well,
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Old 21-07-2009, 20:24   #30
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I am a little surprised nobody has mentioned these:

Does anyone here use them?

Raymarine Marine Electronics - LifeTag™ Wireless Man Overboard Monitoring System


Life begins where land ends.
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