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Old 26-09-2010, 08:24   #1
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Question Dog Overboard

I want to take my dog out on my boat, but won't do it unless I know how to get her back on if she falls overboard. We don't own a dingy and since this is a smaller boat (25'), our ladder is a portable one that hangs on the rail. My dog weighs 70lbs ~ so no way I can lift her. She won't climb a ladder. What will I need to get her back on board?

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Old 26-09-2010, 08:34   #2
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There are doggie PFDs out there to which you could attach a line and use a block/tackle off the boom to winch her in. Of course the dog would have to have the PFD put on before she goes overboard. Odds of this working are such that I wouldn't bet on it and thus would recommend not taking the dog aboard.

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Old 26-09-2010, 08:34   #3
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I used to have a dog onboard but she was about 12 pounds so things were a little easier. I'd go with a life jacket that's strong enough for you to fit a halyard on. Basically you just want to make sure that you can haul her up via a halyard.

Come up along side, clip halyard, haul her up. It won't be pretty but it will work.
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Old 26-09-2010, 08:44   #4
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My dog ALWAYS has his life jacket on when we are off the dock. The jacket has a large handle on the top, a few times I have had to use a boat hook to grab the handle after he is done swimming.
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Old 26-09-2010, 09:30   #5
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All of the ideas above sound great in the right conditions. What if conditions change though and the dog ends up in the water? How easy would any of the above be in less then ideal conditions?

You really can't pick up 70lbs? My dogs is 70lbs or so and my wife is able to pick him up to get him in the car..etc. I'd be surprised if when needed you couldn't grab handles on a vest and drag the dog into the boat.

If its just you and the dog and the dog ends up out of the boat, how confident are you that you'd be able to manage the boat and grab the dog at the same time?

Just some thoughts and concerns I'd have if it was me.
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Old 26-09-2010, 09:43   #6
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Dog ladder

If your dog is 70 lbs I'm assuming she's a large breed dog and would probably be able to handle something like this: Paws Aboard Yellow Doggy Boat Ladder

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Old 26-09-2010, 09:44   #7
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u forget the freeboard. 70 pounds is lot when you have to lean over from the cockpit and deadlift it from above, essentially using only your arms and shoulders.

Not as easy as on land, where you can get low and use your knees and back.

Personally, I'd go for the PDF with the handle. And I'd have a a plan in place to use the boom and a winch to bring the beast up.

Best thing of course would be to make sure the dog doesn't go over in the first place. But I guess that's always the case.

Lifelines with netting might be a good bet.

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Old 26-09-2010, 10:07   #8
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Angus our 40kg Labradoodle is clipped on in the cockpit when we are at sea and particularly when coming alongside when he is inclined to jump ashore before we have tied up.

He did run off the end of the pontoon chasing a seagull. Sussie at 12 yrs managed to drag him back onto the pontoon somehow (I was picking the wife up in the dinghy). He is a little more careful on the pontoons now. In harbour he is allowed to wander around the deck as he likes to see what is going on and talk to fellow yachties

Let me ask another question, if your wife fell overboard how would you get her back on board?

We keep out dinghy vertical across the stern. Undoing the two top caribiners allows the dinghy to fall into the water but still tied on with the lower two lines, tight to the sugar scoop. This will be our method of MOB recovery, or dog over board if necessary. Remember it might be your crew you have to pick up, more than one yacht has had to pick up a complete stranger.

Is carrying a small inflatable out of the question?

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Old 26-09-2010, 10:48   #9
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No one (dog or person) is going to get hauled up alongside a hull, over some lifelines, and dropped on deck without being pretty banged up. If you've ever participated in a no-kidding man overboard drill you'll know that while you probably will be on the boat alive at the end, there is absolutely nothing helping you from getting smashed around. For a dog that isn't smart enough to put its paws up before it swings into the topsides, it's going to be even worse.

Get a boat pole on it, lock a shackle on its harness/jacket, haul it up. Have someone put outboard pressure on the pole to keep him/her clear of the lines (if you have enough people).

But seriously remember that the goal is alive, not happy. By the time you're back onboard, you will look like someone beat you with a baseball bat.
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Old 26-09-2010, 11:06   #10
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Even though this is a sailing oriented thread, I thought that one power boaters solution might be helpful to some. A Nordhaven 46 coming south from Alaska followed us across the bar into Fort Bragg in northern CA a few years ago. They had double netting around the forward stantions. After docking and the obligatory CG inspection, we walked over to meet them and inquired about the children they had on board only to be told they had a large labrador dog who loved the water. On their way up the coast they had run into a school of dolphins who naturally came out to play around their boat. The dog immediately leaped overboard and the dogs and dolphins had a marvelous time swimming and playing about 20 miles offshore. It became clear that while the dog was enjoying itself immensely, she was tiring quickly and trying to get back aboard by backing down on the dog in the water with the swim grid as a landing platform was fraught with danger due to poor visibility from the wheelhouse. The solution was to tie a large piece of carpeting down over part of the swim grid, get into the water and coax the dog aboard. This worked and at the next anchorage they took the dog swimming and practiced getting her back aboard. It only took a few trys and the dog caught on immediately. Several more times on the trip when the dolphins showed up over went the dog for 'play time' and came back aboard on her own after that. The videos they shared with us brought tears to your eyes watching dogs and dolphins cavorting around each other. The netting was to avoid any unsupervised overboard excursions on the trip. Great solution to the problem! Sounds like a lifting arrangement with a 'puppy' PDF would be very workable on a sailboat with a lifting ring sewn into the top of the vest... cheers, Capt Phil
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Old 26-09-2010, 12:14   #11
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Our boxer Mac went overboard when we tacked the second time we took him out...we were on our 22 Tanzer, he weighs about 70 pounds and is not a good swimmer. Thankfully we had his life jacket on, we dropped the sails and turned back to get him (we at that time knew nothing about the proper man overboard procedures), my husband was able to get him back on board by grabbing the handle and lifting him up, he was no worse for wear but now when our dogs are on the boat underway they have lifejackets on and tethers so they can't go over but if they do it should be easier to get them back on.
On our new boat the Hunter, we are looking at doing some kind as netting as well on the life lines - my husband saw something in a book that wasn't netting but rope used instead (cheaper than the netting), he is going to try rigging that this trip. When we are moored, anchored or at a marina the dogs will wear a harness with a Dlink and still be tethered unless they are in the cabin. I do not want them jumping overboard to chase a bird or go off the boat to meet a person passing by at a marina since they might not be welcomed. It is no different them tying them in your yard, safe for them and others.
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Old 26-09-2010, 12:51   #12
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I'd just like to throw in my .02 and is somewhat related to the OP's question.
Just thought I'd add my findings.

I have yet to take our dog offshore, but the admiral is insisting on it in the future. Our dog although small is basically her child so I was presented with a strong worded warning that all avenues of dog safety must be explored.

After a few weeks of reading things here and there and talking with some friends that do SAR work with their dogs about retrieving a dog at sea this is what I have learned:

There is only one product out there that is an actual hydrostatic PFD for pets. The person that designed it patented it quite quickly and rightly so, its an amazingly well-designed concept. I am not affiliated with this company: Critters Inflatable, Pet Preserver, Pet Life Preserver, Pet Life Jacket, Home Page.

I have read some other opinions that typical el-cheapo Dog Lifevests can actually do more harm than good because they do not elevate the animal's head above the water and in some cases can cause a pet to "flip" on its back. I am sure a lot of people here can chime in if that is true or not. I remain skeptical.

Never the less, the PFD I mentioned before actually inflates under the neck as well as the sides of the dog. It has a large handle with reflective tape, tethering rings and also is quite minimal which means less water soaked fabric to haul aboard. The fact that your dog is not fully submerged in water might also make it a bit easier to haul in. The site has videos displaying retrieval.

Anyhow, great thread, learning a lot. Enjoy your sunday everyone.
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Old 26-09-2010, 13:44   #13
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Originally Posted by maytrix View Post
All of the ideas above sound great in the right conditions. What if conditions change though and the dog ends up in the water? How easy would any of the above be in less then ideal conditions?

If its just you and the dog and the dog ends up out of the boat, how confident are you that you'd be able to manage the boat and grab the dog at the same time?
Well, going overboard, whether person or man's best friend, carries a high probability of fatality, and the worse the conditions and/or colder the temperature, the higher the probability of a fatal outcome.

So the word "confident" is not all that applicable here.

If I were you (I don't cruise with a dog, although a guest's dog has been on board), I would certainly do the research and be as prepared as possible to recover your overboard dog. But I would probably concentrate on taking measures to prevent him from going overboard in the first place. Once overboard, the odds are against you, even if you have taken the very best precautions.
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Old 26-09-2010, 13:58   #14
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Prevent going overboard teather or netting maybe a good choice. I had a chesssie live aboard. We used the dink when she went swimming if thats not an option. The other thing we did was trained her to climb a ladder. Really not that hard and she was quite good at it. I once was up a extension ladder working on a shed i felt the ladder shake a little and look down there is scupper 25' up and closing. She could go up but not down. So I had to swing around her carefully and then I tap my shoulder she would put her forward paws on my shoulders and we ascend. She would not go on deck when the boat was healed preferring the cockpit. she would jump ship when approaching a dock. I never could get her to use artificial carpet grass as a bathroom. she was very anxious to get ashore. Sure miss that dog.
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Old 16-10-2010, 07:25   #15
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I can tell by some responses that people take for granted upper body strength. Yes, I can push my dog into the back of my truck, but leaning over the side rail, I can barely reach the water, let alone the dog and pull her up. I'm sure the adrenaline rush will make a huge difference and in a true emergency, I wouldn't think twice about personal injury to save my dog.

As for me, I can climb a ladder and get on and off the boat. I plan to try the paws aboard ladder, but it is designed for boats whose transoms are lower to the water line.

I have a very sturdy dog life vest (I love the inflatable and will plan to get one).

I have yet to figure out how to do the tackle/block thing over the boom. Does anyone have an illustration?

My dog loves to swim and explore shorelines. (which we do with no problem on the motorboat that I can beach) But the sailboat is entirely different matter. I have a fixed keel and no dingy, so have to stay offshore. I want her to be able to get off and enjoy the water and shore with me. So, if I'm in water over my head, I kept just lift her up and toss her on board.

I really appreciate all the ideas and responses! Tether and netting are excellent ideas. I wasn't sure if netting really made a difference. Keep the ideas coming.

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