“Man Overboard” – How Will You React?

Man Overboard Diagram

Oct 18, 2023

This was posted by skipper Len Strahl, on a local Great-Lakes blog: – the ‘Lake St Clair Sailor’, September 28, 2023. This incident took place during the last race of the Windsor Yacht Club Wednesday night series. It was dark, rainy, and lots of wind. Lake St Clair is only about 15 feet deep, so it can get pretty large steep chop, especially with a 20-mile fetch across the lake.

“Lionheart faced our worst nightmare last night, racing in the WYC Wednesday night race. We were sailing upwind heading to the “D mark for the 2nd time, in rough seas. It was a stark black night, terrible conditions with rain, solid cloud cover, 20+++ apparent wind speed, #3 and full main.

When we tacked, one of the crew fell overboard into the darkness wearing his black foul weather gear. The crew took control of the situation, we turned the boat downwind, found the crewmember, rounded him on our port side head to wind, and were able to pull him onboard on our port side. He was a big guy weighing about 270 lbs. We were very, very lucky to grab him on the first pass. Thank you, team Lionheart, you saved a life!” Lionheart is an S2 10.3.

The many (100+) comments attached to Len’s post are focussed on three things: the main one being – congratulations on getting your crew member back on board. Many more comments were about the need to do a ‘man over-board drill (MOB)’ drill every once in a while. We don’t do this enough. And the third: – don’t wear black because it’s fashionable! The last thing we should consider is fashion.

Yellow or orange foul-weather gear, with SOLAS reflective patches on the shoulders, arms and hood, is what to wear. Your life jacket should also be a bright colour that contrasts with the water and night sky. To help the rescuers find you, or your crew mate, attached to your life jacket you should have a strobe light, a whistle, and an MOD transponder. Depending on your role on the boat, and/or weather and sea conditions, a safety harness with a lanyard, attached to the boat, should also be mandatory gear.

This is the link to Transport Canada’s site that talks about the procedure to bring the victim on board:

Person Overboard (canada.ca)

Thanks to contributor, Roger Renaud, for shooting this our way.

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