Prepare for the worst, expect the best, is an intregal focus of every voyage I support. Envision for a moment a sea full of white caps, cresting waves, breaking and roaring toward your vessel. Suddenly, an unexpected wave comes from a different direction throwing crew off balance and WOSH, someone falls overboard. Are you prepared? Have you practiced?
While in the water, your crew member has only one job: survive! Hard as it might be, life depends on the ability to remain calm; it is an intentional mindset. Like a draft horse wearing blinders, latching onto a nearby flotation device that was tossed into the sea, warding off hypothermia by entering the HELP, Heat Escape Lessening Position, engaging a manual EPIRB or MOB module, keeping salt water out of nose and mouth, and reducing movement must be the only focus. In water that is 50-60 degrees farenheit, exhaustion comes in 1-2 hours. You must execute a POB, person overboard, recovery method quickly and effectively. Every second counts!
To execute a recovery, maintain contact with the victim and bring the vessel to a complete stop. Engaging an engine and dousing sails might well be the most reliable way to obtain maneuverability. Yet did you know that rough conditions invites one of the most common problems plaguing engines to raise its nasty head? When contaminants are shaken off the bottom of the tank, fuel filters quickly grow dirty, and worse, injectors get clogged causing fuel starvation and thus engine failure. Be prepared with a "plan B" by regularly practicing recovery methods which reduce boat speed. Modeled here by Arne and his twelve year old son Julius aboard their 40 foot sloop, the Quick Stop Method is most effectively used by experienced sailors. Rather than practice 'till you get it right, practice until you never make a mistake.
QUICK STOP RECOVERY METHOD - 8 STEPS
1. Yell, "Person Overboard!" Stretch out an arm, point at, and maintain eye contact with the person in the water.
2. Depress the MOB on your GPS unit, launch the MOB module, toss the MOB pole, life ring with strobe attached, anything else that floats into the water to litter the area.
3. Round up into the wind and tack the boat allowing the jib to backwind.
4. Fall off of the wind and run downwind while maintaining two boat lengths from the victim.
5. Allow the jib to jibe and then the main.
6. Line up the final approach so you will head directly into the wind keeping the boat slightly to windward.
7. Furl the head sail, turn into the wind, and release the main sheet.
8. Tether yourself to the boat and retrieve the POB.