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Old 22-07-2009, 10:14   #1
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Real MOB Training ?

I have always been disappointed with the MOB training provided at the usual sailing school programs. They don't seem intensive enough for anyone other than weekend day sailors. Somehow, daintily scooping a lifevest out of the water using a boat hook doesn't adequately stimulate having to heave an unconscious, injured, heavy person aboard in rough weather and choppy seas.

So in the USA, where does one get some REAL training in managing sailing emergencies?

This occurred to me one dismal night as I was slamming along, burying a gunwal with a reefed main & triple reefed genoa, making about 3 knots into the current, until I finally busted a bulwark and cracked chainplate. Another time, I had to go aloft due to a mast shroud failure -- not a fun thing to do, and I had never trained for it.

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Old 22-07-2009, 11:15   #2
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While I think the typical boat cushion in the water can provide some of the basic practice, I agree it falls short in many ways. On my last course, the instructor asked why I was picking up the float near the back instead of on the beam. I answered its because that's where the swim ladder and walk through transom is which is where I'd bring a real person.

Courses, while valuable, have some built in limitations. They only have so much time and the resources available there may not reflect what you may have on your boat and in your situation. I think it's important to take what a course has provided and where necessary, take it farther by practice it on your own boat in ways that you think might really happen. Sometimes knowing your limitations is just as important as having skills.
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Old 22-07-2009, 12:12   #3
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MOB training needs to start some place that has a comfort zone and that is why the life jacket rescue is standard for initial training. You can't possibly start off in a basic sailing class with someone jumping into 6' seas at night in a storm.

In my ASA classes we did move up to actual rescue of individuals and some random MOB's of dummies while in the course of some other activity such as in the middle of a controlled Jibe the instructor kicked the dummy out with out saying anything. Another time he tossed "Pete the dummy" out at night during the 2 to 4 AM watch while on the Coastal Cruising Class. Fun was had by all (not). It was one of the most realistic training runs I ever known about as initially we were not sure if it was a test or not.

The problem with most MOB training is each boat has different characteristics and equipment. Obviously each crew member has different physical and mental abilities over and beyond knowledge of the basic procedure. The skipper of each boat needs to determine what is the best method to be used based on the boat and its equipment and the crews ability. This is even more difficult when your short crewed or "single handing". Yep MOB for single handlers is probably the most difficult and exactly why the very best MOB procedure is making sure no one goes overboard in the first place... that is where more effort needs to be directed.
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Old 22-07-2009, 12:57   #4
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Of course, the other point here is that you don't want a training session--where you are simulating a crisis--to turn into a REAL crisis! That is probably the main reason that MOB drills are not usually done at night, in heavy seas, with 200 lbs. dead-weights to be brought back aboard. Too much risk of someone injuring themselves during the drill.
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:10   #5
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unsafe

I once volunteered to be the victim for such a drill. I'm 6'3", robust (ahem), and was a former rescue diver trainer. The exercises were conducted on a 41 footer with a walk-through, sugar scoop transom. I went into the water wearing a full drysuit, scuba fins and a climbing harness. My intention was to simulate an unconscious victim.

Bottom line is that I was absolutely beat up, and we had to call it a day after the third rescue, at which point I was bleeding from multiple wounds. I was black and blue for weeks after that, and I assure you that I'd never do it again. It hurts getting "rescued," even when you're wearing a harness. When you come up in a life sling, it hurts even more, and you can count on getting banged into the topsides, poked with a boat hook, and goosed by stanchions. Had I not been wearing the fins, I would have also been run over.

One of the things we didn't expect is that the exercise was also tough on gear, and we absolutely destroyed a heavy-duty snatch block, and discovered the outer limits of a hoist meant for outboards.

My advice: don't do it.
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Old 22-07-2009, 13:37   #6
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My club and SWSA teamed up to do some retrieval training a couple of times. The man overboard part was the normal throw something in the water, but retrieval techniques were taught with the boats tied up at the dock with real people in the water. You don't get the real world experience of waves and wind, but for many, just figuring out how to get the technique to work with the actual weight and floppyness of a human provided lots of challanges. While some of the techniques were uncomfortable for the victim, at least they weren't out getting Bashed (get it? ) around.

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Old 30-06-2010, 11:03   #7
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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
I once volunteered to be the victim for such a drill. I'm 6'3", robust (ahem), and was a former rescue diver trainer. The exercises were conducted on a 41 footer with a walk-through, sugar scoop transom. I went into the water wearing a full drysuit, scuba fins and a climbing harness. My intention was to simulate an unconscious victim.

Bottom line is that I was absolutely beat up, and we had to call it a day after the third rescue, at which point I was bleeding from multiple wounds. I was black and blue for weeks after that, and I assure you that I'd never do it again. It hurts getting "rescued," even when you're wearing a harness. When you come up in a life sling, it hurts even more, and you can count on getting banged into the topsides, poked with a boat hook, and goosed by stanchions. Had I not been wearing the fins, I would have also been run over.

One of the things we didn't expect is that the exercise was also tough on gear, and we absolutely destroyed a heavy-duty snatch block, and discovered the outer limits of a hoist meant for outboards.

My advice: don't do it.
Well actually all them's good reason to have better MOB training -- perhaps using a lifesize doll or something a bit more substantial than a floating life-vest. Hate to have to rescue someone fer real and only then discover the "outer limits" of the gear!
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Old 30-06-2010, 11:27   #8
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Originally Posted by Cyrus Safdari View Post
perhaps using a lifesize doll
I think Bash intimated, there is a huge difference between a doll and a real person. As much as Bash was injured I am sure the crews learned a lot.
We should use him for all our training!

Retreiving a person in any conditions will injure them. Its just a matter of realising that most injuries are better than death.

Giving CPR breaks kids ribs.


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Old 30-06-2010, 11:55   #9
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My friend who taught me how to sail was hard. He worked us hard. Without any discussion, with several of us that sailed together regularly, he once threw a lifejacket overboard and yelled MAN OVERBOARD! We rescued the distressed PFD and he explained the he didn't want to have us on his boat unless we were prepared. He randomly trained us like this pretty frequently. It was good for us all.
One day we had a journalist aboard who was doing a story for a local paper. It was blowing 20 and gusty because there was a storm coming. Our journalist was leaning against the lee cockpit coaming to take pictures as a big gust hit, putting the rail in the water. Right as the gust hit she stood up a bit higher to get a better camera angle and she plopped herself right into the water!
We whipped the boat around in a figure eight and zipped her out of the water so fast that the film inside her camera survived the dunking. It was about 30 seconds that she was in the water. This was our first real rescue.
All the surprise drills had done their job.
Several things went right.
We had trained.
She had a PFD on, we all did.
She wasn't heavy and we had 5 men in their 30's on board.
The boat had a pretty low freeboard.
The boat was really maneuverable.
We had sailed together a lot and were a tight crew.
We had trained.
I think it helps a lot to train with PFDs or fenders, whatever.
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Old 30-06-2010, 12:31   #10
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It's hard to simulate "real" conditions because conditions can be so varied. Surely you're not going to do MOB drill in pitch black with big swells, but that can of course be one of the hardest times to get someone back on deck. So whatever tests and drills you do, there will always be real world conditions that are more extreme that you'll never conduct tests with.

Get your drills down pat. If you can toss a cushion in the water then figure 8 back to it and just barely glance by it to leeward in a full stop, you're pretty good.
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