It’s a big con­cern for all sailors – so big, in fact, that many of us choose to ig­nore it. Noel Dilly shares some thought-pro­vok­ing and con­tro­ver­sial ideas about MOB re­cov­ery

Yachting Monthly - - VIEW FROM THE HELM -

Ex­pert on board: Man over­board myths busted Man over­board is such a big con­cern that many of us chose to ig­nore it. Noel Dilly shares some con­tro­ver­sial, thought-pro­vok­ing ideas

Would your man over­board (MOB) re­cov­ery plan ac­tu­ally work if you had to en­act it in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions? How have you tested and prac­ticed it? I be­lieve that many ex­pe­ri­enced sailors are de­lud­ing them­selves about MOB, so my friend Mike Mil­lis and I took the

Yacht­ing Monthly team sail­ing on a windy day to demon­strate, and to chal­lenge some com­monly held as­sump­tions.

We tend to for­get that MOB train­ing is only in­tended to give us a start­ing point for de­vel­op­ing strate­gies and so­lu­tions that work for us on our boats.

Rote an­swers to com­plex prob­lems usu­ally lead to dis­as­ter and, as in all sail­ing, when some­one falls over­board, re­tain­ing flex­i­bil­ity un­der stress is a great as­set. No two MOBs are the same, and it is highly un­likely that one tech­nique will work in all sit­u­a­tions. It is cer­tain that

the more crew you have on board, and the more skilled they are, the greater the chance of a suc­cess­ful out­come.

Only the RYA Sea Sur­vival course teaches what to do if you do go over­board. Sim­ple ad­vice like wear­ing your sail­ing jacket’s hood to con­serve heat will in­crease sur­vival time. Heat and en­ergy con­ser­va­tion by re­main­ing curled up in the heat es­cape less­en­ing po­si­tion (HELP) should be ad­vised. All crew should know how to get into a res­cue sling with an in­flated life­jacket. What to ex­pect dur­ing a res­cue should be dis­cussed to avoid con­fu­sion caus­ing panic, and car­ry­ing out MOB ex­er­cises will help the MOB to un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing on board, as well as hon­ing the skills of the crew.

In this ar­ti­cle, I high­light prob­lems that I have en­coun­tered dur­ing my re­search and prof­fer some so­lu­tions that have worked for me. Em­brace the fa­mil­iar. Most of us are more com­fort­able us­ing the en­gine in con­fined ma­noeu­vres. To me, sails are a last re­sort when a life is at stake.

Thanks We're grate­ful to Gosport Sea Cadets for lend­ing us its RIB as a safety and photo boat, and to Dave

Turner for driv­ing.

Thanks also to Mike Mil­lis for vol­un­teer­ing his 28ft Twis­ter Bits and his ser­vices as skip­per.

Mike started sail­ing as a boy, work­ing on a Thames sail­ing barge aged 14, be­fore join­ing the Royal Navy. He sailed all sorts of ves­sels in­clud­ing Ni­chol­son 55s. Now re­tired, he as­sists the STI Tall Ships Race in help­ing young­sters change their lives at sea.

Mike Mil­lis ended his Naval ca­reer as Se­nior Skip­per and RYA In­struc­tor and ex­am­iner for Joint Ser­vices Ad­ven­ture Sail Train­ing Cen­tre

This is the HELP (Heat Es­cape Less­en­ing Po­si­tion). Un­less you’ve done an RYA Sea Sur­vival course, you may never have heard of it

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