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Old 28-04-2015, 21:09   #1
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single handed sailing MOB self rescue

we all know the best self rescue is to not go overboard, harnesses and jack-lines are hard to beat. but i am sure just as with iron workers and cell tower climbers there are times a single handed sailor choose for better or worse to forgo the harness for one reason or another. i cant imagine a worse feeling than to go in the drink and watch my boat sail on without me.

i have heard sailors talk of a harness with a longer tether so they have more freedom of movement but would still be attached to the boat should they go over others have mentioned trailing a line that one could swim to and use to get back aboard. i am skeptical that unless that line was real long it would be passed long before you could regain composure and swim to it even at modest sailing speed. i also doubt the average persons ability to pull against the rush of the water to pull them selves back to the boat and climb back aboard

i am curious to thoughts, insight and experiences. also looking for other ideas that might be workable. perhaps some way that would depower the sails if you went over or would put the helm hard over or maybe the reality is just wear a harness with a short enough tether that you dont go over?


thanks in advance
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Old 28-04-2015, 21:37   #2
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

Have you tried the search function? Perhaps someone who visits the ongoing thread regularly can point you towards the existing discussion.
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Old 28-04-2015, 21:41   #3
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

that would be cool, i did not find such a thread but limited search functions or internet access available for the time being
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Old 28-04-2015, 21:52   #4
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

I have done a lot of single handing on my Caliber 40 during the last 20 years with a fair amount of it quite a ways offshore. I have also done a lot of high angle rock and ice climbing so I have a fair understanding of tethers and falling.

As you say - the ONLY answer is don't fall off the boat. The tether needs to be short enough to keep at least half your body inside the life lines. When you fall - your center of gravity must remain over the deck or you are dead.

The length of tether is one parameter of survival but the other, and maybe more important, is the location of the attachment point for the tether. A short tether attached to a jack line near the toe rail will allow you to go overboard.

My only sailing experience going overboard was at 2 AM 85 miles west of Vancouver Island at about 50 North in six foot seas and 25 knot winds. My brother was onboard in the cockpit. I was on the foredeck trying to figure out why the staysail would not complete the tack. The clew of the staysail came loose and hit me in the head - knocking me cold.

We were sailing hard upwind and heeled about 20 degrees. I slid down the foredeck and my feet and legs, to my upper thighs, went under the lower lifeline. At that point my 6' tether took up the slack as it was attached to a U-Bolt I had attached to the mast about 3' above the deck. I came to and crawled back onto the foredeck.

My brother did not know I had been knocked out and did not know I had slid overboard until I returned to the cockpit.

IF I had been attached to the jacklines we had running from the stern to the bow - I would have gone overboard and would certainly have drowned before my brother knew I was in trouble.

If I had not been wearing the tether and gone overboard my auto inflate PFD would have kept me afloat and my ACR strobe would have flashed, but the boat was doing 6 knots in the pitch black 52 degree ocean and there is absolutely no chance my brother would have been able to find me.

Do not fall overboard!

I use a 6' tether with a 2nd 3' tether sown to it so I can alway have at least one attachment to the boat when moving about. My boat has jacklines on both side decks, from stern to bow. I have installed U-bolts in many strategic locations to which I attach myself when doing things like reefing, changing staysails, or rigging the Code 0.

But, to be honest, when I single hand a lot, e.g. for two straight years covering 4,000 miles in Western Mexico, I frequently do not use either a PFD or a tether.

One hand for the boat, one hand for the crew. I've never had a single scary episode when I was not wearing the appropriate gear.

But, I was a very serious rock climber for years and did some serious stuff without protection and was very used to making very careful and well calculated decisions and physical moves. I do not recommend my technique.
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Old 29-04-2015, 03:31   #5
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

There is a Frenchman who designed a tether that allows self rescue, even when over board. How well it works at higher speeds I don't know, but it has been demonstrated to work at 4 or 5 knots.

See these videos:
Videos - San Miguel Design 4 Sea EIRL
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Old 29-04-2015, 04:13   #6
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

Quote:
Originally Posted by farm sail View Post
we all know the best self rescue is to not go overboard, harnesses and jack-lines are hard to beat. but i am sure just as with iron workers and cell tower climbers there are times a single handed sailor choose for better or worse to forgo the harness for one reason or another. i cant imagine a worse feeling than to go in the drink and watch my boat sail on without me.

i have heard sailors talk of a harness with a longer tether so they have more freedom of movement but would still be attached to the boat should they go over others have mentioned trailing a line that one could swim to and use to get back aboard. i am skeptical that unless that line was real long it would be passed long before you could regain composure and swim to it even at modest sailing speed. i also doubt the average persons ability to pull against the rush of the water to pull them selves back to the boat and climb back aboard

i am curious to thoughts, insight and experiences. also looking for other ideas that might be workable. perhaps some way that would depower the sails if you went over or would put the helm hard over or maybe the reality is just wear a harness with a short enough tether that you dont go over?


thanks in advance
quick search revealed this thread

Lots of good info here

Man Overboard with Auto Pilot Engaged!

But basically - i fyou go overboard when singlehanding - you're fish food
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Old 29-04-2015, 08:32   #7
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

One trick I have only read about is to trail a line with a float behind the boat. The line should be somehow connected to the autopilot, so if one falls in the water and can catch the trailing line, the autopilot can be disconnected.

Of course, there must be a ladder to reboard the boat with.

Prevention is worth a pound of cure and harnesses on short tethers is the best way to go.
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Old 29-04-2015, 08:43   #8
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

Have a long and short tether, use the short one most of the time, it rides on a jack line, the long one stays rolled up in a pocket of the vest. In real rough conditions one gets clipped on before the other gets unclipped. The trailing line should have a loop at the end large enough to get into, and it should be attached to something that when it gets a good tug will steer the boat to be "in irons."
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Old 29-04-2015, 09:00   #9
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

I too have two tether lines attached to my PFD --one short and one long but sometimes you have to use the long one and that means that if I do go over or under the lifelines then I will be in the water and probably being dragged back to the stern attachment point on the jacklines.
So to counter this possibility I have done two things: 1) lifeline netting to reduce the likelihood of my going UNDER the lifelines and 2) a rope ladder coiled up inside a canvas bag that is attached to a stanchion base about where I will end up if I am dragged back on my tether while in the water. The rope ladder has a long tail hanging out of the bag and down into the water with a huge knot on its end. The theory (I haven't tried it in anger) is that I can pull the tail end thus releasing he rope ladder and that will at least give me a fighting chance to then climb aboard ----I know it will be tough but not as tough as trying to scale 5 ft of slippery, polished freeboard while wearing pounds of soggy clothing ---hope I never have to try it !--FWIW just my two bits
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Old 29-04-2015, 09:23   #10
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

One thing to grab a line trailing behind, another to find it useful. One a hot hot sweltering day in New England on a hot PHRF racer returning from an afternoon around the buoys under spinnaker for fun we trailed a line off the back just to cool off. Great fun, I was last and hung out for 10 minutes 30 feet back. Slowly pulling forward was not hard but when I got to the the stern all strength had been sapped out of me and I needed to be hauled up on deck. I was in pretty good shape then and it was quite spooky and a real wake up call to stay on board.
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Old 29-04-2015, 09:25   #11
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

Hey all.

I agree, if you fall over and your tether doesn't keep half your body out of the water, yer pretty much toast.

almost 20 years ago I had a 21 ft Colombia. was sailing along the Keys in the Gulf stream. this boat sailed nice. no autopilot needed, just lash the tiller and trim the sails. the wind was out of the south @ about 20 knots, so the seas were up a bit. I was coming back up with coffee when I lost my balance and went over on the lea side. luckily I was able to grab the benny sheet as I went over. I was trailing about 6 or 8 ft behind the boat. Thank god for the stop knot on the sheet, it was all I could do to hang on. I was 40 years old and in pretty good shape, I'm no weakling. I tried to hand over hand back and couldn't grip the line good enough, I kept sliding back to the stop knot. Here is where the second bit of luck came in. I guess the extra drag of me in the lea side unbalanced the tiller to sail trim and the boat fell slowly off the wind. after she jibed about the genny backwinded slowing the boat enough for me to climb back aboard, which, as exhausted as I was, I could barely do. I was doing about 5 knots through the water. If there would have been an autopilot I'm sure I wouldn't be telling this story. If it had been a bigger boat, my fate would have been sealed too. My tether will keep my chest at gunnel hight.
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Old 29-04-2015, 09:27   #12
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

Quote:
Originally Posted by TacomaSailor View Post
My only sailing experience going overboard was at 2 AM 85 miles west of Vancouver Island at about 50 North in six foot seas and 25 knot winds. My brother was onboard in the cockpit. I was on the foredeck trying to figure out why the staysail would not complete the tack. The clew of the staysail came loose and hit me in the head - knocking me cold.

We were sailing hard upwind and heeled about 20 degrees. I slid down the foredeck and my feet and legs, to my upper thighs, went under the lower lifeline. At that point my 6' tether took up the slack as it was attached to a U-Bolt I had attached to the mast about 3' above the deck. I came to and crawled back onto the foredeck.
Hi Tacoma.

Thanks for posting your detailed and interesting anecdote above. I found it interesting on several points and I share your feelings (mostly) about the need for the tethers and attachment points and length etc. I already respect you for your extensive sailing experience (and much of it singlehanded too).

When I read how the clew knocked you out, I think that is important to know and should be considered by other sailors as one of the possible dangers of working on the foredeck (e.g. being hit on the head by a heavy clew or gear such as a pole etc.).


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Old 29-04-2015, 09:36   #13
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

I finally have a water deployable ladder. That is if I'm in the water, I can give a light pull on a rope a few inches above the water line and the ladder will deploy. I used a ladder designed for a swim platform but mounted on my deck with a snap shackle holding it to the lifelines. It works for me, but then my boat has a low freeboard of only 26" at the cockpit.

It's less useful at sea, but at anchor, I'm glad to have it. It at least allows for the option of me getting back aboard should I fall overboard at anchor.

At Sea, its a tether connected to jacklines at the the centerline of the boat for me. My assumption is if I go overboard singlehanded, I'm dead.
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Old 29-04-2015, 09:38   #14
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

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Originally Posted by George DuBose View Post
One trick I have only read about is to trail a line with a float behind the boat. The line should be somehow connected to the autopilot, so if one falls in the water and can catch the trailing line, the autopilot can be disconnected.

Of course, there must be a ladder to reboard the boat with.

Prevention is worth a pound of cure and harnesses on short tethers is the best way to go.
It simply will NOT work.

My son tried this a few years ago. "Hey, Dad, pull me behind the boat." He was a fit 21 year old. I goosed it up to four or five knots and he lasted all of 20 seconds. Nice calm conditions, no waves, no swell, no wind.

Utter nonsense.
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Old 29-04-2015, 09:38   #15
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Re: single handed sailing MOB self rescue

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Originally Posted by foothillsailor View Post
I too have two tether lines attached to my PFD --one short and one long but sometimes you have to use the long one and that means that if I do go over or under the lifelines then I will be in the water and probably being dragged back to the stern attachment point on the jacklines.
So to counter this possibility I have done two things: 1) lifeline netting to reduce the likelihood of my going UNDER the lifelines and 2) a rope ladder coiled up inside a canvas bag that is attached to a stanchion base about where I will end up if I am dragged back on my tether while in the water. The rope ladder has a long tail hanging out of the bag and down into the water with a huge knot on its end. The theory (I haven't tried it in anger) is that I can pull the tail end thus releasing he rope ladder and that will at least give me a fighting chance to then climb aboard ----I know it will be tough but not as tough as trying to scale 5 ft of slippery, polished freeboard while wearing pounds of soggy clothing ---hope I never have to try it !--FWIW just my two bits


Your plan is very close to what I will do on my own boat. So, I concur with you.
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