While my level of experience doesn't compare to most people here I do solo a lot. Most of my sailing in the last 10 years has been solo.
I have to laugh at suggestions for ways to get back on the boat or to have it circle around or some such.
Maybe on some flat sea in clear weather
drifting with the sails
this kind of thing might work but it's unlikely you'll fall off the boat in those conditions.
When I was embroiled in a pointless and hostile discussion on another board about how useless lifejackets are someone actually had the nerve to suggest that all one needs to do is to buy some gadget (of course they suggest purchasing
something expensive, that's what they always do). This gadget was supposed to put your autopilot
into some mode where it goes around in circles. Then by some miracle you are to swim to your boat and climb on board.
Just suggesting such a thing leads me to believe that particular poster really doesn't get out much. Maybe that looks Ok in the flat waters out in front of Seattle
but it's laughable in my experience, and I'm guessing they never actually tried it.
Even if the boat did get back to you it would likely just run over you.
I've climbed a fair amount as well and I don't ever recall
a conversation about how to survive falling off the cliff. You fall off the cliff you are dead and correspondingly you fall off the boat while solo on deck
and you are dead. The only thing the lifejacket will do for you then is increase the chances your family
will have a body to bury.
The only times I bother with a lifejacket is when docking
and undocking where I might actually need it and if someone else is on deck
and I've got a bunch of work to do like prepping the spinnaker
and the harness and tether become a burden.
Other than that all the man overboard equipment
on the boat is simply there so I don't get fined. First thing I tell people when they step on the boat is: "don't fall off because I won't bother coming back for you".
But before you all start howling; it's not that I'm unsafe. I'm probably the most cautious sailor out there. As soon as I'm officially in the Straits the harness goes on and the hatch
board goes in no matter what the weather
. It's just that I know what to be afraid of. Falling off the boat is what scares me the most, well after I've survived the drive up there which is really the most dangerous part of any journey.
Of course here's where someone will invariable say: "I fell off in a gale in the ocean and my crew of ten was able to get me back on the boat so you are full of it etc etc etc.
Or so and so fell off and grabbed that rope
he drug around for all those years and pulled himself back aboard.
There's always some story of some person who's survived such a thing. But then there's also plenty of stories of people who fall thousands of feet down a mountain and survive.
But the fact is that most people who fall off mountains don't live and the list of great sailors gone missing while alone on deck off of perfectly good boats is pretty long.
But who am I to argue. Knock yourself out with these expensive and useless gadgets but be sure to fall off the boat as you are knocking yourself out because Darwin needs to work some magic on the humans if we're to survive another century.
Me I'll continue to see the edge of the boat as if it's a 100 foot cliff. That's the mindset that's missing in these, I'm geared up so much it's Ok to fall off the boat conversations.