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Old 25-08-2005, 05:59   #1
Kai Nui
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MOB Lesson Learned easy

I saw a thread posted by Capt John360, and it brought to mind an experience I had a few years ago off the central coast of California.
First, let me say, of all sailing skills, MOB procedures are the least practiced (based on an informal survey at my local yacht club).
As I was crewing on my friend's 43' Center cockpit ketch, on our way to Port San Luis, we were running before 25 kts in 15' seas. We were towing his Boston Whaler dinghy (yeah, I know, but live and learn). We had 3 -9/16" lines to the dinghy, and my capt was convinced that even if the dinghy swamped, it would not sink, and the lines would not part.
What he did not consider, is the structure of the boat. The dinghy swamped, and all three cleats pulled out of the boat.
The Dinghy capsized, but being an unsinkable Boston Whaler, it floated well on the surface. We did a williamson turn, and came back on the boat, but were unable to get close enough motor sailing, so I spotted, and took the helm, while my friend dropped sails. We were never farther than 100' away from the dinghy.
As my friend came back to the helm, I turned to him, pointed back to where the boat was ,and walked forward to grab the boat hook. As I turned back with the boat hook, I asked him where the bvoat was. In that short time, he had lost sight of it. We spent 2 hours searching, and never found it.
It was the ultimate MOB drill, and a real eye opener. Had it been a crew member, the added urgency may have made a difference, but who knows. We reviewed the situation afterwards. There are a lot of things we should have done differently.
1) the dinghy should have been on deck
2) we should have thrown out the MOB pole
3) we should have dropped the sails before the first attempt in such heavy conditions.
4) we were not harnessed in. (we got lucky)
5) we had no plan in place for recovering the dinghy, or for that matter a crewmember. With only 2 of us onboard, had one fallen over, there would have been a real problem.
6) the reality of how quickly thing dissapear out there was driven home. Had we communicated more clearly, the split second that no one had their eyes on the boat would not have happened.
I am sure there are more, but that should get things going.
That is one lesson that was worth it's weight in gold.
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Old 25-08-2005, 09:46   #2
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There is a great saying.
Experiance is a cruel teacher. She gives you the exam first and the lesson afterward.
Thanks Kai Nui. That was an excellent story.
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Old 25-08-2005, 16:47   #3
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Question about MOB methods--

A good lesson indeed.

I teach ASA basic Keelboat sailing course occasionally, using their book as a guide. It mentions only the figure-8 no-jibe recovery method. I notice that the RORC "quick stop" method (which isn't mentioned) emphasizes the advantage of never getting too far from "Oscar", though it does entail a jibe. As you point out it's all too easy to lose sight of Oscar, even one as big as a Whaler dinghy.

I've started teaching this as an alternate recovery method, at least in light air (though most MOBs probably happen in snotty conditions).

I don't teach Williamson, since it doesn't always work under sail depending on the apparent wind angle. And "Oscar", a life cushion, is way easier to get back on board than a real crew, so we don't practice the really hard part of this evolution.

My question, though, is whether the quick-stop method (i.e., immediately go head to wind, tack with jib backed, reach briefly, run off, douse jib, jibe with main strapped in, then round up to close hauled to approach Oscar) is well-known in the cruising community as it apparently is in the racing crowd, and whether the benefits (remaining close to Oscar) outweigh the risks. I think a much of the answer may depend on the experience level of the crew.

Also, I'm teaching recovery under sail alone (since many smaller keelboats may lack an engine). I get the impression many sailors will douse sail and use the engine in "real life".

Knock wood, in decades of sailing I've never had to do one of these for real, but wonder what the preferred method is, if indeed there is one, for an auxiliary cruising sloop.
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Old 25-08-2005, 21:55   #4
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The only circumstance where I would consider trying to pick up a MOB under sail rather than engine, is if my engine was irretrievably broken.

I had a MOB rescue last year for real. I was singlehanding my cat under engine power cause I was transiting directly upwind in 40kts apparent wind. I saw a small racing cat capsize and no rescue boat, so I went over to them. There were two people on the racing cat and their skipper told me I wasn't needed!!! I decided to hang around anyway. they managed to get the mast out of the water, and the sails filled catapulting both of them of the back. The cat went about 100yds before the mast went under again. The two crew started swimming after the boat, but it was obvious one of them was not up to the task. I put out a quick mayday relay and then prepared to rescue him.

during this period, I had been going full astern (27hp diesel) just to stay alongside the guy in the water. I estimate that if I had switched the engine off I would have been doing 5knots under bare poles almost immediately. This worried me about how I was going to get the man close enough while not cutting his legs off! I have a weighted throwing rope with a float on it, so I manoeuvered my boat so I was directly across wind and abt 20ft away, and threw him my rescue line. I then got him to tie a bowline around him, and secured the other end to a cleat. I then cut the engine and got a ladder ready (my ladder is long enough for a diver to use ) I then pulled him to the boat and assisted him up the ladder. I had the man onboard before the rescue boat turned up (I was in the Solent so they did not have too far to run).

Lessons learnt. I had thought through every move before doing it - made the man secure to the boat so I would not lose sight of him (my biggest worry as I was doing everything myself) but not brought him to the boat until it was safe to do so and I was ready for him.
I also learnt that I needed to be able to hear and to operate my vhf from the helm position. a bit of extra cable for the microphone and a secondary speaker soon fixed that.
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Old 25-08-2005, 22:44   #5
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Hat overboard...

I used to treat every lost hat as a man overboard drill.
No grumbles after the first time and everyone appreciated getting their hat back (and were more careful).
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Old 25-08-2005, 22:56   #6
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MOB

When teaching the studends earlier this year I found the headsail became more of a problem than it was worth. It was easy to wrap it around the forestay while everyones attention was eslewhere. I would drop the headsail and aim for the wet one, under main or main and engine. The main is easy to control in conjunction with the motor but the headsail became to big of a problem in my opinion. Differing conditions might have different conclusions. I taught the students by the book but also allowed for much input as to the results. Retrieving the wet one is problematic on most boats. I am building an 18 3/4 in square swim grid and later a lollie scoop to aid with retrieval.
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Old 26-08-2005, 10:56   #7
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Most people cant climb up the ladders cause they are too short. the bottom rung is in a position whereeven if you can get your feet onto it, you cant get any leverage to push yourself up with your legs. Your arms are nowhere near as strong and if you have been in the water some time, will be very unlikely to be able to pull yourself out of the water with your arms.

My ladder is deep and allows the feet to go onto the lowest rung with very little bending of the legs. In fact when the boat dries out, the lowest rung is only 7" from the mud. Thus it is very easy to climb out using the leg muscles.
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Old 26-08-2005, 15:45   #8
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Talbot: The difficulty of getting crew or cap'n back () aboard after going over either accidentally or on purpose is a problem I have on my Jeanneau 37. Even with a sugar scoop transom and an easy step after finally getting upright on the ladder it is difficult to get your legs firmly under yourself and push because of the short ladder. To assist I have a line with a loop at the end tied to a stanchion on the stern pulpit that one may use to help pull himself up with. I am very interested in the long ladder concept but I have trouble visualizing your ladder. Could you tell us more about it. Perhaps I could fabricate some kind of extension for my ladder. Also, am condidering buying a heavy duty stern mounted lifting davit of the kind made for lifting dingy outboards, etc. but one that could help get injured people out of the water who otherwise could not get out by themselves. Thanks for any info on the long ladder concept.
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Old 26-08-2005, 21:01   #9
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The ladder is a plastimo product (their largest), and I have it mounted on the port side of the boat (nearest the wheel) about 1/3 of the way forward (just before the wheelhouse shown on my avatar . The catalac is fairly low at that point so a lot of the ladder goes underwater. I secure it using drop nose pins so it is easy and quick to rig. (same pins used to keep helmsmans chair in place so an easy supply if one gets lost) There are two legs to hold the ladder away from the side. I use a suction cup on these legs (supplied from local caravan shop to hold a caravan awning onto the van) and these were so strongly stuck that I had difficulty retrieving the ladder after the event. Ladder looks like:


Plastimo also do a removable davits , which lock into a deck fitting. These can be purchased as a single item (known as a cargo boom) to lift engine etc and are substantial items with an individual capacity of 80KG. I have them as davits with a 180watt solar panel mounted above, but I have changed their method of securing to the deck and they are now permanent.

They also do a lighter version in a similar style
and a much lighter system with a capacity of 35kg


Hope this helps
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Old 26-08-2005, 21:03   #10
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By all of the responses, it is clear that most sailors are aware of the issue. Talbot, you brought up a great point about the radio. I have not installed the extension mic to the cockpit, and while towing in a disabled vessel a few months back, the Coast guard was asking questions and asking for updates, that required I leave the helm. The other boat was out of battery and could not respond. What a challenge!
Hat tricks are great practice in positioning the boat, and I would recommend them as a regular exercize. The big issue is getting the person out of the water. In the local waters here, the person has about 15 minutes, and they will not be able to climb out on their own power. The water temp is on average about 49 degrees.The "Lifesling" people had a rep at our yacht club some time back, and even the rep could not get the system to deploy reliably. I have seen a large net rigged to the boom, and this seems like a good solution, but I would like to hear of any systems that have proven themselves. I would expect that in cold water, no expectation could be set of the MOB being able to help himself.
NOLATOM, in your courses, you mentioned you teach positioning the boat, what about recovering the MOB? Are ther some specifics you might suggest?
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Old 26-08-2005, 21:13   #11
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yes water temp on my rescue was about 57 fahrenheit. The colder it is, the more you need to be able to get to the man and do the lift for him.

Trying to recover from the sugarscoops is not a good idea, as they are likely to rise and fall and could easily slam down on the casualties head - fine on a calm day, just have a look from a dinghy on a rough day to see what I mean - that is why my ladder is well away from the stern.

If the ladder had not worked, I had intended to invert the mainsheets on the boom, and I have a wide webbing strap to pass round the casualty under his arms in a similar manner to that used for a helicopter sling. This would have retained the casualty without crushing his chest, and I could easily raise him using the mainsheets, and a gybe preventer rigged to hold the boom at the right position.
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Old 26-08-2005, 21:33   #12
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Talbot, Thanks for your reply and the great graphics of your ladder. I will contact Plastimo and see what is available in my area or if I can buy direct. Your remarks about retrieval from the sugar scoop transom are right on. I had not given that any consideration but should have considering the problems I often have docking my dingy at the transom under less than ideal conditions when anchored out. I will have to give this problem more thought.
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Old 26-08-2005, 21:49   #13
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To answer Kai Nui:

The course I teach is very basic, with lots of new sailors, some brand-new, 6 at a time on a Catalina-37 (low-slung racing sloop with an open transom, so not your typical cruiser). I teach MOB so they're at least aware of the basics of what to do, but also because after doing it a few times they start to get better at boathandling (which is part of the reason for doing it under sail).

This is warm water (Lake Pontchartrain) but even so, we don't use real bodies for the MOB, just a cushion. I explain to them how we'd get a real "Oscar" back on board, and how that's really the hard part, but obviously we don't do it for real. I tell them that in "real life" we'd probably have a conscious victim able to help himself (warm water and all), so my advice to the students would be to at least get a bowline under their arms, lead him around aft, and pull/winch him up over the low transom. Or for a higher-freeboard/transom boat, sling some lines over the side as a rope ladder of sorts for a willing victim (assuming you don't have a ladder on board), or for a helpless victim , two bowlines on a bight, one around rump, other under arms, and drop the main and use the halyard as your hoist. If you have a recovery sling/net, use it, otherwise fashion one from the peak of your working jib and a spare halyard. Or haul him into the dinghy if you're trailing one. And if you can't get him aboard quickly, call for assistance. And if you're serious about deep-water cruising, consider getting and wearing harnesses and a jackline.

So it's mostly talk as you can see, not doing, since there's a lot to cover in a day starting at "ground zero", and I'm not about to put a student into the water voluntarily anyway. I was more interested in how people maneuver to get back into position. The RORC criticized the figure-8 method as being too slow and getting you too far from Oscar, possibly losing sight of him. Maybe the RORC quick-stop method is more popular with the racing crowd, since they have lots of trained crew on board (in theory) and don't want to use the engine.

I've recovered overboards from other boats a couple of times in small one-designs, but not in a cruising offshore/coastwise scenario. So I wondered how those who had to actually do it, did it.
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Old 27-08-2005, 09:13   #14
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The fundamental requirement is that you have seriously thought through what you will do.

You also may not be aware that a man who has been in the water for a long time, and is seriously exhausted, should really be brought onboard in as horizontal a position as possible, otherwise there is a very high chance of a collapse into a coma.

If this situation happens, and you have a jib available, it is possible to secure two ends of the jib onboard, and get the rest under the MOB. If you then heave up on the third end, it should lift the MOB and deposit him nicely onboard in a reasonably horizontal posture.
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Old 27-08-2005, 21:49   #15
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Thanks nolatom, I understand the limitations of a class situation, and of course your location lends itself to very different conditions than the US pacific coast. I wonder if anyone is teaching a course that goes indepth into MOB procedures?
Talbot, I have heard of using the jib the way you describe, and it sounds logical. The primary consideration for me, and think many cruisers, is that the recovery must be able to be done by one person, who would not normally be able to lift the weight of the "Oscar". It seems that this method would fit the bill.
The more important point that was mentioned is planning. I always have a viable plan in place before going out, since that incedent. The down side, is that I have not practiced it with my wife doing the recovery, and that, may be the fault in my plan, as things often work better on paper than in practice.
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