I had an experience a couple of months ago that might be of interest, and certainly reinforces some of the safety
measures. I was singlehanding
my cat through the solent under engine
alone (naturally where I wanted to go was directly to windward, and I was getting wind
of 30-35 knots over the deck
. I saw a small racing
cat overturn and no apparent safety boat
. I decided to standbye in case they had trouble righting. One of the crew seemed fine, but I was a bit concerned by the other. they started to right the boat
, but had forgottent to release the sheets
, and as soon as the mast
and sail came out of the water
the boat took off at abt 20 knots, spilling both crew into the water
. The cat immediately capsized again and slowed up. No 1 crew swam quickly to the cat and started to get ready for another attempt to right it, but no 2 swam a few strokes and then gave up. At this stage I was having to use full astern to maintain my position in the water relative to him. I managed to get a heaving line to him and insisted that he secured it around him while I prepared to recover him. During all the spare time that I had, I managed to send out a mayday (the cat and No 1 crew were already abt 1000 yds away) I then put a long ladder that I have over the side - it is designed for recovering divers so enables easy access for somebody already pretty tired. I then cut the engine
and pulled No 2 crew to the boat where he was able to climb up the ladder just in time to step across to the lifeboat that had responded to the mayday.
I had thought out these moves a long time before, and have always recognised that securing a line to the person in the water is the most vital first step, you then have time to prepare for the next activity which is getting the person onboard. When you are single
handing, towing them astern of you even at 4-5 knots is still better that running over them, or losing sight of them, but also provided the means of controlled bringing them to a midships ladder. a stern ladder is great for swimming, but no good in a bad sea. I had follow on preperations in case I had to physically lift
him out of the water, but the overlong ladder did its job and enabled him to get out on his own.
The big message is think how you are going to recover somebody from the water to the boat,, most drill concentrate on the ship handling, which is only the first part of the story.