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Old 27-03-2019, 11:26   #1
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MOB for Couples

There are some great threads and many on-line resources for fully crewed boats, but very little discussion of MOB practices for potencially older couples. The difference, of course, is that MOB recovery becomes a singlehanded exercise.


Typical instructions for crewed boats go like this:
  • Throw floatables overboard (can you reach them from the helm?)
  • Push the MOB button (remember to hold it several seconds)
  • Call people on-deck. Assign one the sole duty of spotter (you're alone)
  • Pick a maneuver (if sails have to moved, that's on you, while you are steering and spotting)
  • Get the chute down (good luck)
  • Steer along side (hard to see)
  • Haul him aboard (feeling strong? young crews struggle and often fail)
I've picked up many stray hats in all kinds of weather (at least enough to blow the hat off), so I know how to handle the boat. I've picked up sailors from a capsized daysailer, but that was easy because I had 10 minutes to prepare before I reached them.


A few thoughts:
  • Get something bright and buoyant in the water fast. Finding the spot is vital.
  • Lines should always be ready for the next tack, jibe, or dousing of sail.
  • Autopilot is handy.
  • A robust means of making contact and recovery is vital. Throw lines and Lifesling are good.
  • Don't rush. Although the reflex is to hurry back, it probably makes more sense to be orderly. That is the mantra of the singlehander. You really want the first attempt to be perfect, even if that preparation takes a few minutes.
  • Know your boat. I sail multihulls, and some of the videos I have watched would land me in irons every time. For me, a variation on the quick return gets my hat back every time. I will slow way down, but I will not rush the turns or taking in sail, if needed.
  • Look at the MOB frequently, if only for a moment. The toughest part of getting my hat back is keeping my eye on it.
  • Nothing beats practice.
Thoughts? No suggestions that require 2 people.
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Old 27-03-2019, 11:42   #2
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Re: MOB for Couples

One word: LifeSling.

Buy it, practice with it, use it. The system simply works. Yes, I've used it successfully to save a guy and his dog when the fellow foolishly jumped overboard.
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Old 27-03-2019, 11:44   #3
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Re: MOB for Couples

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Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
One word: LifeSling.

Buy it, practice with it, use it. The system simply works.

Yes. Huge believer.
Sail Delmarva: MOB Drills, Lifesling, and Climbing Equipment
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Old 27-03-2019, 12:00   #4
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Re: MOB for Couples

My concern is never "What happens if my wife falls in?", it's always the opposite. Not because I value my life more, but because I am far more confident that I can recover her.

I have yet to do it, but have considered practicing with a PDF and forcing her to go through the drills. Though I think with anything like this, we should be practicing these techniques on a regular basis with drills.
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Old 27-03-2019, 12:10   #5
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Re: MOB for Couples

Good thread Thin. I’ve always thought the standard approach to MOB recovery is largely irrelevant, and likely dangerous, for most cruising couples.

Big fan of the lifesling approach. In fact, in the first course we did as a couple the instructor went through the “proper” procedures with the crew. Then, he turned to us and said; "this is all pretty irrelevant to you two. Here’s what I would do…” He then proceeded to demonstrate this basic circle technique.

Even without a lifesling (which we have), this is how I would approach a real MOB. Even from our practices, it’s clear the critical factor is loosing sight of the MOB. In actual conditions that a MOB is mostly likely to occur, sailing away from the MOB to attempt a figure 8 or triangle, or whatever manoeuvre, seems dangerous and foolish to me.
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Old 27-03-2019, 12:54   #6
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Re: MOB for Couples

When sailing as a couple the person left on the boat is singlehanding - and may well have been asleep when the other went overboard. An AIS MOB alarm - worn religiously - with an AIS receiver with a loud alarm (loud enough to wake the sleeping off watch) is invaluable when you go in the drink (while peeing?). At least on our boat the odds are pretty good that the partner won't be in position to see or hear the MOB when it happens, automated electronics are your friend.
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Old 27-03-2019, 12:54   #7
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Re: MOB for Couples

Regarding practicing with a PFD, if there is real wind they drift really fast, too fast to be realistic. You need to add some weight, like a jug of water or such. Oddly, a hat is more realistic in several ways (not that I am suggesting it):
* It will sink, so you only have so much time.
* They drift slowly once they start to sink.
* They are hard to see.


As for maneuvers, try them all. But for example, If I tried to jib my PDQ at low speed with the main in tight, the rudders will simply stall. It won't jibe unless you get some speed and ease the main. It also won't tack or jibe without the jib, so if I miss the first pass, I'll have to unfurl the jib to come back around. Basically, she is a pig to maneuver under sail, singlehanded, in close quarters (good with two, but bad with one). Thus, the procedure is to go head to wind, take everything down (which is very fast--the main just drops in lazyjacks), and motor. With twin engines, I can make her do anything I like.



The F-24 is also different. It will tack or jibe on a dime with one sail if it's moving, but not at low speed. It also accelerates very fast and does not heave to in any useful way. So the best choice is to slow down, jibe, furl the jib and lift the CB half, and then return on a close reach with the main way out. You could start the motor, but it's not that much better and takes a little longer (by the time you get sail in). Easy. But different from the PDQ.


If I had crew, I might sail the PDQ back around, no problem (quick return with jibe). If I had a spotter on the F-24 I might take sail down and motor. But the aforementioned methods proved better, for me, for THESE BOATS, when alone.
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Old 27-03-2019, 13:51   #8
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Re: MOB for Couples

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
My concern is never "What happens if my wife falls in?", it's always the opposite. Not because I value my life more, but because I am far more confident that I can recover her.

I have yet to do it, but have considered practicing with a PDF and forcing her to go through the drills. Though I think with anything like this, we should be practicing these techniques on a regular basis with drills.
Which is why you need to buy a LifeSling and practice using it.
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Old 27-03-2019, 13:57   #9
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Re: MOB for Couples

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Originally Posted by Dsanduril View Post
When sailing as a couple the person left on the boat is singlehanding - and may well have been asleep when the other went overboard. An AIS MOB alarm - worn religiously - with an AIS receiver with a loud alarm (loud enough to wake the sleeping off watch) is invaluable when you go in the drink (while peeing?). At least on our boat the odds are pretty good that the partner won't be in position to see or hear the MOB when it happens, automated electronics are your friend.
Yes . I guess I’m slow, but I just recently became aware of these AIS-PLBs. I like the look of them.

The truth is if you go over, you’re probably dead. Despite all the nice how-to videos, an actual MOB situation is more likely to occur when conditions are not optimal. Off-watch crew is down below, possible sleeping. Conditions are on the ‘dark and stormy’ side of life, not the ‘fair and calm’ that practice usually happens in. Add to this the very strong likelihood that the MOB is also injured, and in our case, is now swimming it cold water where function is measured in minutes, and survival in tens of minutes.

All of this adds up to the only real rule on our boat: DON’T FALL OFF!
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Old 27-03-2019, 14:12   #10
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Re: MOB for Couples

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
The truth is if you go over, you’re probably dead. Despite all the nice how-to videos, an actual MOB situation is more likely to occur when conditions are not optimal. Off-watch crew is down below, possible sleeping. Conditions are on the ‘dark and stormy’ side of life, not the ‘fair and calm’ that practice usually happens in. Add to this the very strong likelihood that the MOB is also injured, and in our case, is now swimming it cold water where function is measured in minutes, and survival in tens of minutes.

All of this adds up to the only real rule on our boat: DON’T FALL OFF!
Could not agree more. Chances of my wife being able to come back and get me out of the water are essentially zero. Stay on the boat.
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Old 27-03-2019, 14:27   #11
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Re: MOB for Couples

Mike,

We’ve acquired cold weather work suits. They are flotation devices and will keep you up, and they also give you some more time in the water, maybe 2-3 hours in 50°.

One thing not mentioned is how to retrieve the MOB. There have been multiple incidents where the MOB was brought to the boat but then slipped out of the PFD. Some come with crotch straps but they won’t holdback your weight. We have sewn in sail ties with snaps which can support our weight.

I also have a Gumby suit and a dry suit. I would need assistance to put the dry suit on, it would only be if the situation were such that I was fighting for the boat and was being exposed. The Gumby would go over my wife’s cold water work suit, but at that point she is about a useful as a doughnut. A lovely doughnut, but a doughnut none the less.
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Old 27-03-2019, 16:55   #12
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Re: MOB for Couples

Oh boy, this is a fraught subject because the low likelihood of success in the kind of conditions that a person is liable to go over the side are the conditions where boat control and visibility of MOB are both very difficult. The problems to solve are legion and if we add incapacity of the MOB due to injury or cold it becomes even more difficult. Sigh.

Four parts to the problem:

1/ Stay on the boat! This implies strict adherence to tethering whenever outside the cabin and jacklines and tether anchors that are far enough onboard that you won’t be dangling over the side from them. Hard to enforce even on self in benign conditions and very much depend on the type of boat. I really like the idea of rigging chest high lifelines around the working areas of the deck to help with this, especially for boats with wider decks and/or fewer handholds.

2/ MOB alerting and locating the MOB. For a cruising couple this means electronic PMOB AIS units and AIS or chart plotter alarms loud enough to wake a sleeping person and automatic MOB marking on the chart plotter. How loud - the sleeping person may be wearing earplugs (my wife does, especially in heavier weather) and in a far away cabin. For MOBs that take place in front of the other person then a dan bouy pole with flag and light and sea anchor enable further sight lines on the MOB (assuming they can swim). Plastimo and others have inflatable that are very easy to use. Is something to throw always available and is the MOB button for the chart plotter easily accessed from the cockpit?

3/ Returning to the MOB, which implies getting your boat under manual control and getting turned around and back to the MOB’s position. 20 knots of true wind speed and 4 metre swells with breaking tops are very different when you turn from downwind or reaching to back upwind. Can both person’s manage this on their own in any conditions? Is a chart plotter MOB display visible at the control station?

4/ Bring the MOB back onboard. First part is connecting the MOB to the boat - a lifesling or similar is key to keeping your boat away from the MOB. The float collar or horseshoe at the end of a long line means it’s pretty easy to circle the MOB and they can grab the line and work their way to the float. Second part is getting the MOB back onboard. Forget your sugar scoop(s) - in any sort of seas they’re death traps for a person in the water. So a halyard or block and tackle clipped to the float collar can be used to lift the MOB up and over the lifelines. While the boat is rocking and rolling, probably side on to potentially dangerous seas. And if the MOB is incapacitated? How to get them attached to the boat? How to hook them up to a halyard? How to get them up the freeboard and onto the deck? And what about avoiding cold shocking their heart and killing them (in my time as a volunteer Coast Guard rescue unit member in a cold water port, we would always parbuckle MOBs horizontally to avoid cold blood from the legs hitting their core)?

The last step is probably the most difficult. Is the story true about a woman coming into port towing her husband’s body because she couldn’t get him back onboard after a MOB incident offshore?

It all really depends on #1, stay on the boat.
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Old 27-03-2019, 17:19   #13
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Re: MOB for Couples

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
....All of this adds up to the only real rule on our boat: DON’T FALL OFF!
Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
Oh boy, this is a fraught subject because the low likelihood of success in the kind of conditions that a person is liable to go over the side are the conditions where boat control and visibility of MOB are both very difficult. The problems to solve are legion and if we add incapacity of the MOB due to injury or cold it becomes even more difficult. Sigh....

It all really depends on #1, stay on the boat.
Yep, even with practice, automated alerts, the best equipment, etc. I suspect the odds are not good should either of us go overboard. The #2 MOB technique we have is harnesses, tethers, and jacklines for those occasions when you absolutely must be on deck. Minimizing those occasions with clever rigging, forethought, and early reefing is #1.
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Old 27-03-2019, 17:20   #14
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Re: MOB for Couples

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Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
Yes . I guess I’m slow, but I just recently became aware of these AIS-PLBs. I like the look of them.

The truth is if you go over, you’re probably dead. Despite all the nice how-to videos, an actual MOB situation is more likely to occur when conditions are not optimal. Off-watch crew is down below, possible sleeping. Conditions are on the ‘dark and stormy’ side of life, not the ‘fair and calm’ that practice usually happens in. Add to this the very strong likelihood that the MOB is also injured, and in our case, is now swimming it cold water where function is measured in minutes, and survival in tens of minutes.

All of this adds up to the only real rule on our boat: DON’T FALL OFF!
I disagree completely with your premise. I think it’s far more likely someone will fall over board when conditions are more benign, because they’re not expecting it and are less likely to be wearing a tether and harness or life jacket.

When it happened on our boat.... I wasn’t expecting it.

My MOB and DOB situation happened during 20kt winds just inside the Long Beach California breakwater.

As it always seems to be, most people on this forum have it all bass ackwards usually do to little or no experience with the subject being discussed.
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Old 27-03-2019, 17:24   #15
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Re: MOB for Couples

Ditto what Fxykty said. This is why I singlehand and also try to tell other women that they really need to know how to handle their boat without their partner because of situations like this. I believe the chances are very low that if one goes overbaord there will be a successful recovery. For me, I just assume everyone is soloing even on a doublehanded boat. This means tethering in; knowing how to handle the boat solo; knowing how to drop the sails by yourself, if needed; having some communication method on your life jacket (best is VHF and personal EPIRB); dropping a "pin" each hour during night watches in case your partner doesn't know exactly when you went in, they at least might have a last known possible position to start the search.
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