If someone falls overboard, a certain procedure is necessary to get him back onboard. You should be familiar with this recovery technique so you will know what to do when someone needs your help.
Here is the process of Man Overboard (MOB) Recovery:
- Call out "Man Overboard!". Never lose sight of the Man Overboard. If another person is still present in the boat, instruct them to watch the person in the water and continuously point at them with their finger.
- Sail off on a beam reach and, optionally, let the jib fly.
- Sail until you have enough room to maneuver. Weather conditions can affect the distance that you need, but in general, give yourself enough room to perform the rest of the recovery.
- When you are at a suitable distance away from the MOB, tack back onto a reciprocal course.
- While still keeping the MOB in sight, sail onto a broad reach.
- As you get closer, sail upwind. Slow sailing is ideal on this leg. Control your speed and luff up.
- Announce to the crew that the MOB will be taken on the windward side. Verbalize a reassurance to them that you will counterweight them by moving to the opposite side of the boat.
- Ease the mainsail out and stall out into the wind with the MOB at the windward shrouds.
If the MOB is an actual human:
- Move forward and take hold of the MOB from their life preserver.
- Pull or help them get to the stern. Help them enter the boat by pulling on the straps of their life jacket.
- Observe the person and check for any warning signs of hypothermia (shivering, slurred speech, confusion, apathy, shallow breathing, etc.)
Here are additional guidelines in MOB Recovery:
- Never lose sight of the MOB throughout the recovery procedure.
- On the final approach, it is important to know the right boat speed. Have complete control when approaching the MOB. Slow sailing is very handy here.
- Practice this recovery technique until you are confident enough that you can do it properly.
- Act with a sense of urgency to stay close to the MOB - the farther you go away from the MOB, the more difficult it is to keep it in visibility. If you are ever more than 150' feet away from the MOB, you've probably gone too far. The Junior test expectations are generally that you pick up the MOB within 2 minutes. The mortality rate explodes exponentially the farther you allow the vessel to get from the MOB.
Take note that this process requires skill in controlling your speed. Thus, performing the MOB procedure will not only rescue the person, but the process will also teach you a skill that is very important and helpful to any trip - maneuvering slowly under full control.