Man over­board: ap­proach­ing the ca­su­alty

Yachting Monthly - - EXPERT ON BOARD - MYTH 6: You can sail the boat to­wards the MOB from lee­ward, and stop along­side him MYTH 7: A yacht can be stopped at sea

Re­mem­ber the prob­lems of pick­ing up a moor­ing buoy un­der sail. Can you do it per­fectly first time, ev­ery time, or is it a bit hit-or-miss? It is dif­fi­cult to con­trol boat­speed un­til you're trained by prac­tice to find the boat’s ‘close reach win­dow’. With­out this es­sen­tial clue, the ma­noeu­vre usu­ally ends up ei­ther with it be­com­ing im­pos­si­ble to point the boat at the MOB be­cause the boat is too close to the wind or, if she's not point­ing high enough, im­pos­si­ble to dump enough wind from the main.

It is vital to learn how to get into the close reach win­dow. If you’re too close on the wind, tack a boatlength or two to wind­ward or, if the main­sail won’t dump, bear away be­fore try­ing a steeper ap­proach. The coup-de-grâce of this method is that, in any sort of blow, as soon as the boat has slowed down she will be blown down­wind.

Rather than con­tem­plat­ing this strug­gle I be­lieve it is far bet­ter, after all the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions, to start the en­gine. In a blow, the most im­mac­u­late stop lasts for less than half a minute. It is far sim­pler to drop the sails un­der con­trol and then mo­tor to wind­ward of the MOB, and ap­proach dead down­wind. Most boats with­out sail will ori­en­tate them­selves stern into the wind, or will do so if they are ma­noeu­vred into point­ing dead down­wind. A small drogue will steady even the most re­cal­ci­trant of boats stern to the wind. This way the boat is easy to han­dle, al­though steer­ing be­comes slug­gish. The en­gine can be used to speed up or slow down the boat's progress to­wards the MOB.

MYTH 8: The en­gine won’t start

This can hap­pen, ob­vi­ously, but it is far more likely that the only per­son who knows how to start the en­gine is bob­bing around in the wa­ter. La­bel the es­sen­tial items with the ap­pro­pri­ate instructions, as is done for marine toi­lets, or, bet­ter still, train the crew how to start and stop the en­gine, and how to han­dle the boat un­der power. Crew need hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence. Even the best kit is use­less if no-one on­board has prac­ticed us­ing it.

Ap­proach­ing un­der en­gine gives you more con­trol but in all the panic, make sure there are no lines over the side

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