ON THE COVER
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
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