Yesterday I had my first real "man overboard" and it just brought back to the fore some things that I have been saying in "crew safety
My colleague (aged 70 and recovering after several strokes) fell off the quayside as we were mooring
It was the first time we had been out on a boat
that he had bought, and it just reinforced my feelings about how courses etc treat MOB
Getting back to the casualty is the easy bit, getting him back on board is the hard part.
In the marina with the boat tied to the pontoon and I just couldn't get him back onboard the boat!
The boat's boarding ladder was useless, it was too short as it didn't even reach the water
line. Get a foot on it and he was already past the horizontal. It was too narrow, he couldn't get both feet on the same rung.
The boat also had a rope
ladder with wooden rungs, but those floated
and were difficult for him to get his feet onto them while he was swimming.
At 63 I just wasn't strong enough to pull him be on board (the boat has no sugar scoop or bathing platform)...
I eventually managed to get him back on board by getting a bowline over his shoulders and with the help of one of the marina guys.
And this was just a 22ft boat with a very low freeboard (about the same as the marina pontoon!)
How would we have managed it on a Hanse 575 with 5ft of freeboard?
I have always told new crews that "THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT MOB
RECOVERY TOOLS IS WHEN YOU ARE IN HARBOUR NEAR A CHANDLERY
AND BEFORE YOU HAVE TO TRY TO DO IT FOR REAL, "How would your wife get you back on board if you went over?"
But as I said before it just reinforces the fact that MOB recovery planning needs to be done before it happens! I hadn't really realised the problems of using a ladder with floating rungs!
Real sailors always learn from mistakes
and things that happen, preferably from those that happen to others.
I hope that some of you will learn from mine, I certainly have.
We will be making some changes on his boat!
The bathing ladder will be replaced with one that is longer and wider..
We will add a weight to the bottom of his rope
ladder so that it sinks.