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Old 28-03-2019, 14:01   #1
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Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

I saw a video of a rescue swimmer in action on a Clipper Race boat. It was embarrassingly stupid. They had over 30 minutes to get someone suited up and came up with this:



I'm not sayin' they didn't work hard or that they didn't do a good job bringing the boat back in tough conditions. And they did recover the MOB, so gold stars for all of that. But why not...


  • Dry suit. MUCH more agile in the water than weather gear">foul weather gear.
  • Helmet. So you can focus on what you are doing. Useful up the mast as well.
  • Foam PFD. Better rib protection, more agile.
  • Alternate harness type. A standard deck harness, even with leg straps, is lame for this.
And this is all stuff I have on the boat anyway.


If you have to go over the side to help someone, what is your plan? Remember, family sailors, that may be your wife or child. I'm not suggesting doing something dumb. Suggest the perfect gear. Assume you will remain tethered to the boat, though possibly by a long line. But boldness may be involved. The water might be rough, but it is also possible that it is simply cold or that the MOB is very weak.



Hopefully you are fully comfortable in rough water and fully comfortable with rescue gear. If not, skip this thread.
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Old 29-03-2019, 01:04   #2
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

Fins, mask, snorkel with a wetsuit. Floatation device short tethered.
Long line attached to boat and waist.
Harness isn't going to be useful with a two person crew.
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Old 29-03-2019, 05:33   #3
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Harness isn't going to be useful with a two person crew.
With a two-person crew, I think it would be absolutely insane for the one remaining person onboard to jump into the water to rescue the MOB. A rescue swimmer is something that should ONLY be considered when you have more than two people onboard to begin with!
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Old 29-03-2019, 05:46   #4
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

Drysuit, fins, snorkel, goggles. Definitely no helmet. A tether, depending on conditions. A manually inflated PFD if available, alternatively a thin flotation vest.
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Old 29-03-2019, 05:53   #5
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

jesus, so many things wrong that that video, the gear the implementation, all of it absolutely mindblowing stupidity. having done some of that type of work, a mask and fins and a snorkel make all the difference in the world. without going on a rant about the the clipper and it's sailors in the context of a sailboat recovering an MOB putting a "rescue swimmer" in the water means now you 2 MOB's to contend with instead of just one.
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Old 29-03-2019, 09:04   #6
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

I would be very careful before characterizing their actions as "stupid".
They simply did not think as clearly as if they had been sitting at home on a couch, as most people would do in those circumstances with that kind of sea conditions.

In terms of "ideal" rescue swimmer kit, what you list is purely theoretical. Most likely they had the equipment aboard, but they did not have the time to deploy.

"Drysuit" or "wetsuit" is only practical if somebody aboard is already wearing one at the time of the accident. If not, thinking that somebody would get off the foul weather gear and into a drysuit under the stress conditions of a MOB accident is preposterous. It would take time (it takes minutes in the best conditions), time that they did not have, and decrease the odds of recovering the MOB, since every second counts. In fact, statistically, deciding to wait for even an extra minute to deploy a swimmer "properly dressed for the occasion" is the wrong choice.

Also, definitely no helmet, it becomes very awkward to wear in rough water.

For the lifejacket, true, a thin profile lifejacket would be much better than an inflatable, but the reality in most boats is that everybody is wearing an inflatable and that thin profile may be in a locker somewhere and nobody has the peace of mind to go find it. Time is better spent in harnessing the swimmer, as they did.

I think this post is similar to being a "Monday quarterback", it is easy to be judgmental and propose theoretical solutions from the comfort of a marina. It is a completely different thing to make the right decisions in those circumstances.

In reality, they did a very good job given the conditions, the odds of completing a rescue in that kind of sea are pretty low, kudos to them!
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Old 29-03-2019, 09:53   #7
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

After watching this a second time, the MOB is actually in pretty good shape (Considering) and attempting to attach his tether. It doesn't appear the "Swimmer?" did much. In this case it appears they could have simply thrown a line to the MOB.

Hard to second guess, and any rescue in these conditions is a great job.

I would have to think very hard about putting another person overboard if the original MOB is Lucid and able to function.

As for "Kitting Up", if I lost sight and was searching, and had multiple crew as they did, I would certainly consider getting someone ready, and if I had it, a Drysuit, fins, snorkel, goggles would certainly be my preference.
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Old 29-03-2019, 10:13   #8
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

It looks like when all is said and done they did a fairly effective recovery.
The MOB seemed mainly exhausted and, incapacitated by the floatie. That thing looked like an airline under-seat vest, not a real PFD. They have a severe issue with rising up and choking the wearer, because there's nothing holding them down clear of your face. So they don't help a feeling on panic and suffocation as they choke your air off, and they don't provide great floation, like a proper PFD with crotch harness would.

They also didn't deploy a "rescue swimmer" really, did they? It looked like they had a "swimmer" securely tied off to a lift line, so they could lower him to help the MOB back on board, without any risk of having a free swimmer to complicate things. All in all, I think simpler, faster, more reliable than trying to screw around with getting a sail under the MOB, or having the MOB (all bloated up and helpless with that floatie) trying to secure a lifting point to himself.

Seemed like a fairly business-like recovery.
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Old 29-03-2019, 10:29   #9
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

There are several instances where he is holding up his tether,

and then he actually looks like he helps to attach to a line, then the shot jumps to the rescue person hanging from the boom quite a ways above the MOB.

They probably did NOT expect the MOB to be as able as he appears, and its easy to second guess sitting here in my comfortable office chair

Just observations, not criticism. and Yes that PFD looks horrible!
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Old 29-03-2019, 12:29   #10
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

Lots of suggestions here that it would be better to wear a thin foam type vest rather than an inflateable, and I fully agree. Beyond MOB considerations, in cold weather I always wear a foam vest, for the warmth it proves and protection against bruised ribs, etc when its rough. Best would be an integrated foam float vest with harness and crotch straps.
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Old 29-03-2019, 13:38   #11
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
With a two-person crew, I think it would be absolutely insane for the one remaining person onboard to jump into the water to rescue the MOB. A rescue swimmer is something that should ONLY be considered when you have more than two people onboard to begin with!
Insane is a bit strong. It is a last ditch approach appropriate for some situations.
An example.
Your partner gets hit by a flying boom and ends in the water with an inflatable jacket on. You maneuver the boat close by and find that the MOB is conscious, but severely injured and unable to assist in anyway in her/his recovery. You drop a galerider drogue or similat net in the water. You enter the water and maneuver the MOB into the net. Climb out and haul the net.
If you don't go in the water then the alternative is stand by and watch.
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Old 29-03-2019, 15:04   #12
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

If the weather is filthy and cold, wear a lined wet suit instead of the usual sailing stuff. Then you are already geared to go over the side into a cold sea. Just make sure you too do not become lost at sea--do not try it on your own. If you are sailing as a couple you should have used harnesses at all times in dubious weather. Conditions can change quickly at sea. We always rigged lines to which our harnesses could be clipped whenever at sea. The sad thing is, many go overboard at night--and tha chances of finding them without a light on a pole and a personal epirb are pretty remote even if one has an initial MOB alarm.

How many people regularly practice MOB and recovery? Yeah--we only did it a couple of times too. Lazy jacks and roller furling Genoa make it easier to drop and furl sails and motor back quickly. A MOB setting on the chart plotter is a great thing too--it will give you the exact position give or take a few yards where the initial alarm was tripped.
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Old 29-03-2019, 18:04   #13
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Re: Rescue swimmer. How would you kit up?

Stupid was harsh. I regret that. They did a lot right. But the gear was really, really not thought out. And this should NOT be a spur the moment decision; on a boat that size, going wear they were going, this is something that should have been planned for.


Before knocking the helmet idea....
  • Getting banged against the boat is a problem. This isn't like helo work. A number of rescued MOBs have suffered head injuries, and some believe they were during recovery.
  • Helmets do NOT have to be awkward. Many of the Clipper boats carry Garth surfing helmets. I've worn a helmet many times white water kayaking. Not a problem if it is the right helmet and properly fitted so that it does not shift.
  • USCG swimmers are now wearing them.


I think the problem in this case was that the MOB was so affected by the cold that they could not catch and clip the line. I believe this is what I read. Not unusual, and in fact, the purpose for the thread.
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