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Prepping for a man overboard

A few weeks ago, at the Blakely Rock Race in the Puget Sound, a crew member fell overboard but was quickly rescued with the aid of a few other boats. Marek Omilian, skipper of the Sonic, saw the man overboard and his crew started preparing their MOM. The Sonic dropped their MOM to the victim, who was able to grab it and another boat pulled the victim on-board. This quick rescue is credited to the preparedness of the crew on the two boats. Omilian has prepped his crew with “safety procedures ad nauseum” and they immediately responded when they saw the man overboard.

Preparing your crew

With the sailing season starting up, now is the time to start preparing your crew on how to react in a man overboard scenario. Discuss and determine with your crew the roles of the man overboard rescue and set the expectations. Stress the necessity that someone keep an eye on the victim at all times and that the rest of the crew then responds by:

  1. Getting additional flotation to the victim.
  2. Radioing in a mayday
  3. Turning the boat around
  4. Finding the victim and approaching carefully, at a controlled speed
  5. Tossing a line for the victim and hoisting them aboard

man overboard drillOnce you’re back in the water, regularly practice a man overboard drill so that all on-board are familiar with the correct process. Show crew where your man overboard recovery equipment is located and demonstrate how to use it.  Every situation will be unique but practicing will create a routine and mitigate some of the unknown. When a man overboard situation occurs, you want your crew to react like the well-oiled crew on the Sonic.


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