I'm puzzled by the number of people queuing up here to say
"this'll never work; you'll never get to the line" ...
.... and frankly I'm feeling a bit impatient.
The people who are most outspoken and dogmatic about what doesn't work are often simply revealing what they haven't tried. It's like deja vu
all over again, to quote YB - but he wasn't talking about the www.
Let's first set aside the following:
People who can't swim; people who got knocked unconscious; people who are legally blind; situations where the water
temperature causes cardiac arrest, or the sea is tumbling with thunderous, shock-like cataracts ... and other such.
Frankly, all these hypothetical MOBs are stuffed, regardless of whether there's a tripline, a squadron of coastguards waiting in the wings, or whatever.
Secondly, let's set aside whether you "Should" have fallen overboard
Nobody "Should" fall overboard
But despite best efforts (and notice I'm not putting that
people DO occasionally fall overboard.
Very occasionally ... but for those who do
, that's a small consolation.
OK: you're in the water
, get over it : there's a tripline which will stop the boat if you can yank it.
Let me spell out how to find it, then you can judge whether you have a fighting chance.
If you fall overboard: orient yourself: get the water out of your eyes: turn to face the boat: swim at right angles towards the boat, or where it would have been if you'd been quicker to do what I just said.
If you took your time, for whatever reason, don't swim towards where the boat is NOW: swim at right angles to its heading, across the wake.
Don't be a smartarse and duck under the waves doing breast-stroke: swim spashily and superficially, overarm or even butterflyishly, taking short pulls. Unless the boat is as beamy as an IMOCA 60, you haven't got far to go. You'll know when you get to the line.
If you're quick / long boat / slow boat / fell off bow: take your time and collect yourself, we don't want you arriving early and head-butting the topsides.
How hard was that?
OK, yes, there might be problems.
What say you went over the stern, and you don't remember which side of the line (or the boat's yawing so hard that you might have crossed over or under it)
Firstly, try not to go over the stern. Ideally you should have TWO harness lines on if you're working at the stern. However, **** happens.
So: I'd be inclined to play this by ear. Hard to make a single
plan ahead of time on this one, but the line will be REALLY close.
Don't Panic. Probably pays, once you have your bearings, to turn your back on the boat and stretch out with both arms while you watch, but don't try to move until you have a plan.
There should be hi-vis fluoro webbing tucked through the lay of the line at intervals. Also, the handle (and the knots) will probably be kicking up some spray, giving your eye a starting point, and hopefully calming you down by showing you've still got plenty of time to find the line.
If all else fails (say it's too dark), you may still be able to make out the wake; generally it's more prominent at night than by day.
Swim towards the middle of the wake, or your best guess, and then past it a few strong strokes, then the other way twice as far. Still no line? Repeat but swim further before turning. I'd stop in the middle and make a last attempt to see the handle at this point.
A few suggestions about the line:
1) If the boat's going at speed, rope
burns can be a problem, even in the water.
If you've practiced (especially if you've done quite a bit of waterskiing) you'll know how to 'hand-over-hand' along the rope
, applying progressively more muscle to bring yourself closer to the speed and direction of the boat, before you yank, in case the first yank doesn't trigger the trip: you don't want the shock to jerk the line out of your hands.
When setting the system up: Consider coiling up some extra line where it passes over the sternrail, and using 'rotten cotton' stoppings on the coil, so it breaks easily when you yank it.
That lets you get a firm grip because the line will temporarily go slack, so that when the line comes tight again, you'll definitely trip the helm
or mainsheet, or whatever you've decided to rig it to trip.
2) There should be a row of knots, maybe six (or more, for a fast boat) along the line. They should get closer together getting towards the handle end.
These help you see the line by kicking up turbulence as they pull out of the faces of the waves, and help you grab it without slipping.
3) If the boat's going slow, you might have to yank quite hard, because the trip will need to have been set up so it doesn't trip purely from high boatspeed.
General advice: If you're not confident in the water, try to put in some time at beaches, gradually pushing yourself into slightly more boisterous situations and eventually in surf if possible, but not with the aim of being a hotshot swimmer or bodysurfer, rather focussing on ways of orienting yourself, settling yourself down (ignoring the apparent drama and instead learning
useful skills like taking stock of drift using shore transits etc).
This will build a habitual ability to function in a disorienting seaway. But it will also stand you in good stead even if you only slip out of the dinghy
in a tidal estuary.
If you want some ideas on how to rig the trip mechanism, don't take any notice of the naysayers; they'll get bored and drift off somewhere else:
Post a question describing the setup of your helm
or whatever, and your first thoughts.
ON EDIT: OK, I forgot about multihulls. Perhaps you could tow two triplines: one for each wake. Trimarans I guess as for monohulls: You shouldn't be falling off the amas.