You are piloting your vessel solo, you've done this before and while not necessarily desirable, it's certainly doable.
You are well into your voyage and everything is well. The weather is clear (could be day or night), seas are calm to small.* You are checking something on deck and all of a sudden you find yourself going over the side (through no fault of your own, of course).* The cause is not an issue.**
Fortunately, you were wearing your inflatable PFD, so, physically, you're ok.
Inquiry --*what would your boat do?* Stop -kill*switch,*go in circles (nobody at the helm), go in a*random direction, or, if Otto was engaged, continue on her merry course?
How long would you last (shock) in your home waters (Alaska guys don't count)?
Could you get yourself back onto your boat if somehow you had the chance?*********************** KJ
-- Edited by KJ on Wednesday 8th of February 2012 07:42:50 PM
It's not a scenario I would ever be in because we removed our autopilot when we bought the boat. So somebody has to be steering it at all times. If I was running the boat solo, which so far I have never had occasion to do, and had to attend to something on deck I would stop the boat and put the transmissions in neutral and the engines in idle and go do whatever I was going to do. If our boat still had an autopilot, I would most likely follow the same procedure if I was going to be out on deck because of the risk of the boat sailing away from me if I fell off.
But even with my "neutral at idle" plan, if I should fall overboard I would be sh*t out of luck because while our boat has a ladder on the swimstep that is easily deployed from the water, it is blocked by the Livingston carried on the swimstep.
My wife and I were talking about this very thing over the weekend and the solution would be to replace the current ladder with one that folds up underneath the swimstep and is deployed form there rather than hinging down over the swimstep.
In the USCG Auxiliary boating course we took back in the mid-80s when we bought our Arima, one session was devoted to hypothermia and it was taught by the leading expert in this field at the time from the University of Washington's School of Medicine. The bottom line is that in our waters the length of time the average person can remain mentally and physically capable of helping themselves is measured in minutes. Survival time can be much longer, but after a few minutes most people will need assistance to do something like climb onto or into a boat.
We have a detailed MOB plan and procedure if one or the other of us should fall overboard while we are underway, but this plan would not work in a solo MOB scenario like the one you described.
But yours is a very good question to ask because it's something a lot of boaters tend to not think about until it's too late.
This topic comes up from time to time on sailboat sites.
There are lots of things that one can do but no one really does, such as remote control shut off switch's and all sorts of other craziness. Rivers are not usually a problem because you can eventually get to shore so I am assuming you are talking open water. If that's the case, you can tuck your head between your legs and kiss your ass 'goodbye'.
Most of the time the consensus of opinon was to spend more time figuring out how not to fall overboard than to figure out what you would do if you did.
For instance, you can get a waterproof floating radio and somehow attach it to yourself so it wont fly loose if you went overboard. More than about 10 miles or so from civilization, a marine handheld wont do much good. Catching up to your own boat will probably never happen. If you trailed a 'floataway line' behind your boat you could cath it and hang on. With the boat moving as little a 3 or 4 knote, you wont be able to pull yourself up to the boat.
The Inflatable PFD is the first step in the right direction. The second step is to get one with "D" rings sewn in and a 2 strap lanyard and always keep yourself hooked up so you cant go overboard. Look up "jack-stays" which are common on sailboats and I dont see why something similar couldnt be used on a trawler. Actually, it should be easier on* trawler because you have more and better anchor points including hand rails and a much cleaner deck without all the rigging. Hooking and unhooking with spring snatch-hooks can be done as you are walking so it doesn't even slow you down.
-- Edited by Tony B on Wednesday 8th of February 2012 08:10:26 PM
Mine will continue it's merry way. Either with auto-pilot on or with no one behind the wheel it will continue straight for miles. Depending on where I am it will eventually run into land.
Should it somehow sense that I'm not on board and decide to stop in the water where I could swim to it, I will go to the port side swimstep. There, the Livingston dinghy bow line is conveniently wrapped and tied within reach of the water. The swimstep bracket is close to the end of the swimstep and will provide a foot step to help bring me up out of the water. I also tried the exhaust thruhull, but it's at a bad angle and my shoe doesn't fit in very well.
We did it at Queen City YC guest dock one summer. After swimming, we tried to get aboard without help. Shoes are important for this method on my boat. Clothing is heavy, but the pants won't come off without taking shoes off and I definitely want the shoes for the swimstep bracket.
I boat solo fairly often. When cruising and outside I take extra care to have a hand on the boat at all times. I don't stop the boat, but I do choose when I'm outside. That is no other boats close, no wakes coming, etc.
The Puget Sound is 50 to 54 degrees pretty much year around. 30 minutes of purposeful movement is probably all one could hope for. Skinny guys with no insulation won't last as long. :-)
The few times I have made solo trips I have slowed and put her in Neutral while going up to or down from the Flying bridge if I am just going out on the deck walkaround I just am careful.
On my boat one would be in the most danger of going over while stepping down from the FB to the top of the aft cabin or from the cabin top down to the main deck, especially in following or beam seas.
I believe in any kind of chop or worse getting back on board is not very likely to happen. Pray it never happens!
Marin wrote:If I was running the boat solo, which so far I have never had occasion to do, and had to attend to something on deck I would stop the boat and put the transmissions in neutral and the engines in idle and go do whatever I was going to do.
Since I run my boat solo 99% of the time, I have given a great deal of thought to the question that KJ raised. The procedure that Marin outlined above is exactly what I do. Even underway in open water, if I have to use the head, I use the same procedure. My swim platform has a telescoping ladder that you pull out and down, held by a nylon strap and snap. It deploys quite easily from the water and 2 rungs are beneath the surface of the water when full deployed.
I have seen a number of man overboard drills and am convinced that in any sea at all it would be all but impossible to get back on board with only Pat and me.
This is one at least theoretical advantage of a boat with a mast and boom.* Our MOB procedure takes advantage of this.* Both the topping lift and the boom fall are equipped with multiple-sheave blocks to make it easy for one person*to deploy and retrieve the sailing dinghy on the aft cabin.* So--- in theory--- our procedure would be to deploy the Lifesling, get the person alongside the boat, and then use the boom fall to hoist them up.
The mechanical advantage offered by the blocks should--- in theory--- enable either one of us to haul the other one up.
This theory may go out the window, however, if th MOB conditions are in rough water, poor visibility, etc.
PS--- Should one of us have to go out on deck in rough water our procedure is to slow the boat and turn into the waves so the only motion on deck is pitching, which is easier to compensate for than rolling.
-- Edited by Marin on Wednesday 8th of February 2012 10:26:17 PM
Listen to the sailers inflatable life jackets.And Jack stays.with a short enough line.That if you do start to fall overboard.The line will stop you short.I have even seen open water sailboats.That have netting material attached to the life lines.that go all the way around the boat.The only opening they will have is at the gates.
-- Edited by Maxx on Wednesday 8th of February 2012 10:47:20 PM
My swim platform has a telescoping ladder that you pull out and down, held by a nylon strap and snap. It deploys quite easily from the water and 2 rungs are beneath the surface of the water when full deployed.
*That looks like a great idea.* Did you fabricate it yourself?
-- Edited by KJ on Wednesday 8th of February 2012 10:52:56 PM
A folding stainless steel 3-step ladder (Garelick "Out of Sight", 1998) is mounted under the strb side of the transom step.* The ladder can be deployed from either the transom step or from the water by opening the nylon hasp and pulling the stairs out and down.* Using the ladder is best done by climbing as straight up as possible without pushing to the side with your feet.
Somebody suggested it already, but I wouldn't leave the helm with the engine running and in gear. I would be at idle, in neutral, and stopped before I left the helm. My boat has a swim ladder and we've used it many times. We will often tie "pool toys" to the boat and float in the water, then use the swim ladder to get back on the boat. I added an extra grab bar to make this easier.
"My wife and I were talking about this very thing over the weekend and the solution would be to replace the current ladder with one that folds up underneath the swimstep and is deployed form there rather than hinging down over the swim-step."
I do go out solo occasionally, and the totally enclosed walk-around decks are such that I would have to try hard to fall overboard. However, I avoid going up top unless stationary in a flat sea or at anchor.
Marin, I have a similar arrangement to Walt, only mine is a 3 rung set-up, and under the starboard end of the duck-board, pointing aft, but just enough clear of the bow of the dinghy when it is up on the board that the ladder can still be used, from above or from the water, and quite easily. I've tried it. It was fairly standard issue easily available through a local chandlery, & ~ $200.
I strongly recommend this arrangement, as we also used to have a ladder that stacked against the transom, and had to have the dinghy off to swing down, and when we planned our trip to go out and coastal up to the northern end of Moreton Bay I was not happy with that, in case we wanted to swim without the dinghy down - or if the worst happened and we had a MOB, or WOB, so that change was one of the things prompted by that. The other was getting a GPS type EPIRB. Of course, Murphy's law came into play - as it tends to do with things boating - and the weather was so bad we didn't get to do that plan, but I'm still glad to know we have done both things. Just one thing though....if you can, make the change with the boat out on the hard, it would have been soooo much easier.....! It cost me sore knees and back, several washers and nuts, a screwdriver and a spanner...but I got it done...
PS - yes I tied on the larger tools I used, it was small ones that I couldn't that got away on me...
-- Edited by Peter B on Thursday 9th of February 2012 07:10:08 AM
i wonder if anyone makes a device, say a transmitter type chip which you carry, perhaps attached on or part of your inflatable PFD which is activated by contact with water?
similar to an ELT for airplane but this one is a personal device. i think i have seen folks on commercial airlines with some sort of beacon transmitter.