The availability of comparatively inexpensive, and proven effective, AIS/DSC POB beacons has made Phyllis and me think long and hard about what changes we should make to our Person Overboard (POB) procedures.
These devices are the biggest advance in POB recovery in my lifetime, because (like the EPIRB did before them) they have essentially taken the search out of search and rescue: We will now know where the POB is with pinpoint accuracy as long as we remain within two to five miles of them.
And, better still, any other AIS-equipped vessel (most these days) who responds to our POB Mayday call, will have the same information.
This is a huge advance, but to get the increased safety benefits, just buying the beacons is not enough, we must also:
- Set up the beacons and receiving equipment on the boat to make sure that a POB alarm will be heard and that homing in on the signal will be easy for the busy and highly-stressed crew remaining aboard.
- Revise and practice the techniques required to return to the POB.
- Come up with, and practice, realistic methods to get the POB back on the boat—perhaps the biggest remaining problem to solve.
It’s tempting to start with number one, if for no other reason than talking about marine electronics is fun. But thinking about gear before technique is a huge mistake, and one that contributes to a lot of poor decisions, so I’m going to start with number two:
What actions are we going to take if the POB alarm goes off?
Moving On From The Quick Stop
First off, Phyllis and I are abandoning the Quick Stop manoeuvre. I explained our reservations in the last chapter, but here’s a quick recap:
- Often subjects the boat to huge loads, with the attendant risk of a gear failure, which will, in turn, reduce the chance of rescue to near-zero.
- Requires the crew remaining aboard, who may have been below and asleep when the POB occurred, to react instantly and start a violent and potentially dangerous manoeuvre with no time to think.
I looked at the first flaw in detail in the last chapter, now let’s think about the second.
Rather, we are generally more likely to solve the problem with deliberate steps—each only taken after thinking and carefully looking around for potential dangers. And so this became a vital criteria as Phyllis and I thought about what to replace the Quick Stop with.
Next we considered keeping the Quick Stop for a POB when we are going to windward (or close), a situation where the manoeuvre is relatively easy and safe to perform.
Going All In On The AIS Beacon
One more thing before we get into the details of our new POB recovery procedure:
I need to make crystal clear that everything that follows is based on the assumption that the POB beacon and its reception equipment works, and that the combination has a tracking range of 2-5 miles.
And this in turn means:
- It’s the final nail in the coffin of Bluetooth/smartphone-based systems like the CrewWatcher.
- We are putting 100% faith in our AIS beacons, so we better get religious about testing them (and the related reception equipment) regularly, making sure they are installed on our lifejackets, and wearing those jackets at all times.
Phyllis and I are comfortable with this trade off, but each of us needs to make this decision for ourselves.
OK, with that out of the way, here’s the Morgan’s Cloud Version 1.00 AIS Beacon-based POB Strategy, based on the old reach and return method that was popular before the Quick Stop:
(I write Version 1.00 because we fully expect to improve upon it with your help in the comments and after practicing this summer.)
- Maintain course.
- Move slowly and carefully.
- We have between 20 and 50 minutes of moving away before we will lose contact with the POB and even outside that we can return on the plotter track to get back in range.
- Remain tethered at all times.
- Two people in the water is not going to solve anything, and in the stress of the moment the remaining crew falling in is a real possibility.
- If the POB is still in sight—the remaining crew was not below and asleep—throw the Person Overboard Module (MOM). (More on this gear in a future post.)
- Make sure the plotter track feature is on.
- Do not use POB Waypoint features on the plotter.
- We gave this a lot of thought and came down in favour of not cluttering the plotter screen with two icons that could be confused in the heat of the moment; i.e. the actual POB position from the AIS beacon, and the point-of-loss waypoint.
- And remember that we always have the plotter track function on, so if the AIS beacon did malfunction we could always return along our track.
- And, assuming the beacon does work, as soon as we are within 2-5 miles of the POB their actual position will display on a properly configured plotter screen.
- Another advantage is we have eliminated a task—just one less thing to do.
- All that said, this is definitely a judgement call, and your judgement may differ.
- Furl the jib-topsail (yankee jib).
- Boats with small headsails, and/or small engines, might consider keeping the jib-top or jib set, at least until getting close to the POB. On our 25-ton heavily-canvassed boat with a powerful engine, we will be more easily able to manoeuvre without it.
- If set, snuff the spinnaker and lower to the deck.
- Leave the pole in place.
- We use a guy and lift system that holds the pole rigidly in place with no movement even after the sail is struck. We strongly recommend this.
- Leave the staysail set, if in use.
Conditional Course Change
The goal here is to not get too far downwind of the POB. However, we don’t want to rush into a course change until we are sure everything is under control and clear.
If the wind is:
- On the beam, or forward of the beam: hold course.
- Aft of the beam (broad reaching or running): come to a beam reach (true wind; the apparent wind will be a little forward of the beam).
- If in doubt, err on the side of closer to the wind.
- Trim main to suit.
Start Engine and Get Ready To Tack
- Keep in neutral.
- Check for lines in the water.
- Remove main preventer if in use.
- Do not jibe, too much risk.
- Use engine as required to bring the boat through the tack.
- Tack staysail if set.
Return to POB
- Use the autopilot.
- Set a course back to the POB.
- Set the autopilot to aggressive steering (low speed) mode.
- On our autopilot this is accomplished with a quick double press of a single button and assures that the pilot will keep the boat as close as possible to course, even at slow speeds.
- Make all errors to windward.
- Adjust engine RPM to stay on course and make best practical speed to the POB.
- Check engine gauges and water flow.
After each of the following tasks, check that the course back to the POB is still correct.
DSC Distress Call
- Press red distress button on VHF.
- Note that for this to work the VHF radio should either have an internal GPS or be connected to one. All VHF radios should be set up in this way.
- Dial in Distress Type: POB.
Verbal Distress Call
We are still thinking about whether or not a verbal distress call is even required, but given the complications of DSC we are going with this pending more research.
- Make a single call:
- “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.”
- “This is the sailing vessel Morgan’s Cloud.”
- “Person overboard in position, L&L.”
- Don’t waste time reading the POB position, our own off the GPS is close enough.
- “Person overboard is transmitting a position on AIS.”
- “Request immediate assistance.”
- “Am now single-handed, no time for further communication.”
- Repeat all of the above once.
- “Commencing recovery attempt…OUT.”
- Do not get drawn into a conversation with other stations, even official ones. In particular, do not respond to silly check lists like “is everyone wearing a lifejacket” and the like.
- “Commencing recovery attempt…OUT.”
Reef or Drop Mainsail as Required
- The goal is to be under-canvassed but still have enough sail up to steady the boat.
- True wind:
- Less than 10 knots: consider dropping the mainsail if sea state is flat.
- Don’t forget to use the tackle to control the boom.
- 10-15 knots: One reef.
- 15-25 knots: Two reefs.
- More than 25 knots: Three reefs.
- Less than 10 knots: consider dropping the mainsail if sea state is flat.
Prepare Recovery Equipment
- Deploy LifeSling.
- Hold Person Overboard Module (MOM) (if not previously used) in reserve until close to POB.
- Prepare heaving line.
- Prepare lifting tackle.
- Prepare other recovery equipment (details in a coming chapter).
- If set, furl staysail when within 1/4 mile of POB.
- May be unrolled, or partially unrolled, again during the recovery to heave the boat to.
- Immediately after furling staysail:
- Centre the mainsheet traveler.
- grind in mainsheet hard to centre and control the boom.
We believe that now we have AIS POB beacons, the actual process of getting the person back on the boat is the largest remaining problem to solve, so I’m going to devote an entire chapter to it, but probably not until late summer, after we have had a chance to experiment.
As this point I need to point out that in selecting the above recovery strategy we have made a second big trade off:
This means that in cold water, while the POB will probably still survive if recovered and properly cared for, their ability to help themselves during the recovery will be severely compromised and may even be zero.
Each of us must weigh this potentially fatal drawback against the possibility of quicker recovery offered by the Quick Stop.
Phyllis and I feel that the dangers inherent in the Quick Stop, that I discussed in the last chapter, justify this choice, particularly in light of the size of our boat in relation to our strength, but we are by no means certain that this is the right choice. Each of you must make your own call.
A Reality Moment
It is our belief that even with a well thought out and practiced AIS-based recovery procedure, once offshore and particularly if the wind is over 20 knots, the chances of retrieving the POB alive are substantially less than 50% even for a strong crew—the two recent Clipper Ventures fatalities support this.
And for a newly single-handed crew, they are way less than that.
Several of you will note that some of your thoughts expressed in the comments to the last chapter became part of our procedure. Thank you.
If you have questions or suggestions for improvement to the above, please leave a comment. Also, if you have decided to stick with the Quick Stop, or use some other completely different recovery technique, we would be interested in your reasoning.
As usual, please save your thoughts on AIS beacon usage and reception gear set up, as well as the actual recovery, for the relevant future chapters.
as you said “write about […] developing the best ways to take advantage of these beacons”, before continuing to read I pondered “how would I try to tackle the situation?” when short handed, basically two people (now one aboard).
My thoughts went like this:
1 – if MOB is still in sight (basically when he/she went overboard with me on deck or at least near the companionway), throw the MOM. Would make no sense if you can’t see the victim anymore as he/she wouldn’t be able to see or reach the MOM anyway.
2 – check the POB AIS signal. If it works, good. If you don’t, press the MOB on the plotter so you have at least an approximate waypoint to start a search pattern later
3 – start the engine, NO GEAR
4 – get the speed out. This is the most volatile issue as it largely depends on your current sail wardrobe. Most of the time this would mean going more to windward, and/or to luff the sheets. Note that I started the engine before so I can decide how to proceed if the engine wouldn’t come up (which would make the situation a lot worse)
5 – clear up sails and lines, you get into this detail a lot, and make sure no lines are in the water. Depending on the boat and on the wind, have some residual sail up, preferably the main, close hauled
6 – engage the engine, tack, and track back to the AIS position, or the MOB waypoint if AIS didn’t signal. I didn’t think of using the AP but this is the right idea, giving you time to prepare gear to hoist the POB back on board
7 – VHF the mayday. Good point about telling everyone that you won’t communicate, and don’t do it after your distress call. If necessary the call might be repeated later while searching, or tracking back (only if you happen to have a mic at the helm).
8 – if no AIS, think through the necessary search pattern you will have to go through.
I believe this online book could be the most important your website has ever seen.
Well done. I agree with Ernest that this may prove to be AAC’s most important contribution to offshore sailing.
A few initial thoughts as I digest the whole package:
My MOM would be first to go. I would want a visual even if I was putting all (or most of) my faith on electronics. It is right next to my autopilot disengage control and the MOM release is just a quick yank on a handle.
Whether you do a quick stop (when going to windward-or close to it) may depend on boat size. I would not hesitate on Alchemy at 40 feet and with a quite robust rig on anything close hauled to close reach. It essentially going to a hove-to position: over-canvassed for hove-to for sure but not badly or damagingly so.
From close reach to broad reach, I think I would try to get the jib topsail furled quickly and then do a quick stop with the likely deployed staysail left out. This is because coming closer to the wind with reaching canvas up: while I believe the rig/sails would be fine, would be such an increase in noise, apparent wind and bouncing around as to be disruptively detrimental to single- handed POB retrieval.
The above maneuvers would end up with boat in a hove-to position near the POB, quite near if the boat were close hauled and the remaining crew were on deck when the POB occurred. Time now to take a deep breath and decide how to proceed.
The advantage to staying quite close to the POB, especially if the remaining crew is on deck and reacts quickly, appears to me to outweigh other considerations. One might even keep the POB in sight and the MOM definitely so. I find a visual immensely helpful for orienting, even if I am relying on electronics, as I expect to be hand-steering looking at the compass while putting my face in the chart plotter. Anyone who has tried to make a phone call, punching numbers and looking at the display while driving a car, knows how quickly one can drift off course without a clue.
Although I agree completely with your reasoning and admonition to move slowly, I believe moving slowly with consideration is most pertinent to emergencies where actions are not clear- cut and practiced, where decisions need to be made and plans thought through. The above two maneuvers, especially a Quick Stop from close-hauled sailing, can be almost instinctual: especially if practiced sufficiently as I believe to be wise. So, this is one area where, with the sufficient practice I mentioned, I believe that one can and should move quickly as I suspect that moving quickly increases the odds of POB recovery with little down side.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Hi Ernest and Dick, Lots of good points. I too thought about starting the engine first, but in the end decided that the first thing I wanted to do was get rid of the headsails to slow the boat down and give freedom for maneuvering. Sure, 99/100 starting the engine is a matter of seconds, but if anything does go wrong at all, it would be so easy to get distracted by trying to solve the problem, while getting further and further from the POB. One might think that if the engine did not start immediately we would just leave it and come back to it once on the way back to the POB, but my experience in emergencies is that it’s very hard to deviate from the drill when something goes wrong. And this inability to think clearly and flexibly will be many times worse when totaly panicked by the very real possibility of losing the person you love. For the same season, I decided to be ruthless about cutting out contingency planning along the lines of “if this, do that”, for example like whether or not to mess with the POB WP on the plotter or do the quick stop or not. That said, it’s a trade off, and there is no question that by simplifying to this degree I’m going all in on the AIS beacon working. One other point on the quick stop. I think, that, as Dick says, it’s very boat size dependant. For example, on our boat once the Jib Topsail is aback and plastered to the windward shroud, there is no way to safely, and in a controlled fashion, furl it. The problem being that the load is way too high on the furling line to budge it, even with a two speed winch. To furl requires easing the sheet, but if we do that from the heaved-to position the staysail stay gets in the act and the friction goes up again. On a smaller boat you could just fly the sheet, but do that on our boat and you suddenly have two wildly flailing 7/8″ Dacron sheets, that can break an arm from one brush, that must be control. So for us, the number one priority is to get rid of that headsail in a controlled and familiar way . That being the same way we always do it: ease the sheet until it just luffs but does not flail, grind in the furling line, repeat. This was a key criteria as we thought about this: don’t ask the remaining crew to do anything that they don’t do every day while sailing. On a smaller boat, furling will be much easer, although I think even on 40′ boats I would really think about and practice furling from heaved to, particularly if the jib was any more than say 100%. As to whether of not to deploy the MOM. I totally get the reason for doing that if the POB is still in… Read more »
And another Volvo Race crew was lost last week. Even on a boat with lots of crew and, presumably, all the gear, it still happens. Stay on board.
The tragic loss of Volvo Ocean Race sailor John Fisher from SHC Scallywag in the Southern Ocean highlights the tremendous challenge of finding a POB in extreme conditions. With a crew of 8 well trained, professional sailors on board, they were unable to find John and were forced to make the heart wrenching decision to abandon the search. The wind and sea state threatened the safety of the boat and the rest of the crew and the only alternative for the skipper was to protect the boat and the remaining crew.
This event does reveal some of the limitations of the latest POB equipment. Establishing visual contact of the person in the water in storm conditions, especially if they are unconcious or incapacitated, may not be easy. Let’s hope that most of us will never be faced with this scenario.
Perhaps with the increasing proliferation of the use of drones and there video capabilities, this technology could be put to use in designing a drone that launches automatically and hovers over the POB personal locator position, facilitating retreival. Sounds like a good use of technology to me.
A drone is an interesting idea, but given that for the drone to stay locked on the POB would need to have a transmitting beacon that the boat can home in on anyway, I can’t see enough justification for the added complication, and the distraction of launching the drone in an already very busy situation.
Drones have a battery life that is comparable to the turn around time for anything but a quick stop on a boat that is going to windward. I agree. It does not seem workable and too much of a distraction in an emergency.
Charles L Starke MD
I think a drone that launches automatically would be quite useful for increasing homing range dramatically and probably several other advantages I haven’t thought of. However, a POB system must be designed around a heavy weather scenario with very strong wind. There’s no problem to make a system that will reliably launch a drone automatically or with the push of a button in any weather, but only very powerful drones can keep up with say a 50 knot wind. If it can, it won’t be able to do this for very many minutes. Also it will be very expensive.
In the future this will probably change, but I think its safe to assume that it’s not realistic now. When it gets possible, we can also use it for making a video that can stream directly on Facebook, so family and friends can participate and suitable companies can offer their products to the POB…..
While thinking about big budget solutions, what about a masthead, or aloft somewhere, infrared/visual camera? They are useful for other things, so POB would just be an added benefit. I’d imagine the better angle and infrared would make finding them in a swell or the dark or both much easier.
I guess there might be a benefit, but for short handed crews I would recommend focusing on a single recovery technology and to me the best by far is AIS POB beacons. Too much stuff to mess with often becomes a distraction in an emergency, even if it might have some benefit in theory.
Also I think any type of camera up the mast would have way too much motion in a seaway to be useful.
Of course even more important than any of that is not going over in the first place. We explain our thinking on both in our Online Book: https://www.morganscloud.com/category/safety/book-person-overboard/
This sounds like a workable, soundly considered solution to a grave problem. And yet. . . in depends on all the electronics and power supply to be functional. That makes me twitch a wee bit.
Hi David and Robin,
Certain occurrences seem so remote as, to my way of thinking, need not be worried about or planned for. The power supply and the engine starting are in that realm. If they go down while in the midst of a POB, the sea gods are certainly against you and it is time to throw a tot of appeasing rum into the ocean for Neptune.
EPIRBS are electronics that, again to my mind, have proven themselves to be dependable, although I do have 2 on board. The new MOB1 has a track record, but it is still early days as to its prolonged effective life span and utility after being in and out of lockers and storage in the folds of damp inflatable lifevests. This is one reason I am still thinking (under review), that my MOM will be deployed ASAP.
And Robin, your point about visibility is exactly on point. The new POB equipment, if it works properly, (and we are still unsure of how big an “if” that is) should relieve the remaining crew from any necessity to maintain a visual of the POB: a huge increase in the likelihood of POB recovery. The remaining crew, often singlehanding, can concentrate on working the boat secure in the knowledge that the AIS will bring the boat back to the near vicinity of the POB.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Ps. I am not sure the Scallywag shows anything about limitations of the latest POB equipment. To me, quite the opposite, how hard it is to find someone without the latest PLBs. Am I correct that they have had 2 POB incidents and one recovery? And that they were not wearing personal locator beacons? Maybe not lifevests?
the VOR race director stated JF “was wearing all his necessary security and safety equipment” (https://youtu.be/-5Fgzcze2q8?t=81) but this still doesn’t disclose what this actually was. From another report I got that he “momentarily unclipped and was washed overboard”. Another report writes about being thrown overboard during a chinese gybe.
“Momentarily unclipped” seems to be the key, at least in such harsh conditions.
The other POB situation was in January (summer) in more or less benign conditions and still took the crew 15 minutes to get back to the (unsecured) POB, see my video link above.
Hi Ernest, Thanks for the information. From my (casual to be sure) watching of video, I do not see a lot of harness use. Dick
As you say, momentarily unclipped is the key point in this tragedy. Pretty much unavoidable on a full-race Volvo boat, I think, but definitely something we can pretty much eliminate on a short handed cruising boat.
As to what he had on him, to me the key question, which, as far as I know, has not been answered yet, is was he wearing an AIS beacon and if so, did it fail to operate? No doubt that will come out in the full report.
Just read a news statement to the POB situation on team Scallywag dated March 28th (https://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/11370_Update-from-Team-Sun-Hung-Kai-Scallywag.html). This describes the situation and the circumstances.
-) John Fisher was unclipped (“as a standard procedure”)
-) he was hit by the boom during a crash jibe and possibly unconscious
-) the DAN buoy was deployed immediately
-) and when they returned they didn’t even find the DAN buoy
My conclusions: there hasn’t been an AIS device. And if there had been one JF had most certainly already drowned, being unconscious in a severe sea state.
Tragic, RIP, but cruisers should make it a standard procedure to NEVER unclip when working on the boat.
Thanks for the link. Very sad reading. This is the second crash jibe related fatality in two years caused by the mainsheet and definitely a reminder for all of us in the cruising community of how important a proper preventer is: https://www.morganscloud.com/2014/03/02/rigging-a-proper-preventer-part-1/ (Not sure if this is a viable option for a Volve boat, I suspect not.)
I’m sure there will be all the usual finger pointing about this tragedy, but to me the bottom line is that racing a high performance boat full out in the ocean is an intrinsically dangerous activity and from time to time bad stuff will happen despite everyone’s best efforts. Not saying that the Volvo should not try to learn from this, just that the blame game that the forums (not here) like to indulge in is not appropriate.
I very much agree that the blame game that usually comes is inappropriate, (which is the most polite word I can think of in that context). The reason there is none of that here, might be that people here are just competent. It seems as if in this context, the strength of critisizm is inversely proportional to the competence of the person speaking.
Thanks for another excellent article John. The thoughtful comments from the readers just add to the value.
A quick note on the loss of John Fisher from SCALLYWAG. My understanding from the press (see this link https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/18/sports/volvo-ocean-race.html) is that the boat’s AIS itself was unserviceable so they were unable to locate John’s AIS. Such a sad story. We had a chance to meet him in Auckland when he showed us around the boat – surreal Facebook has pictures of him briefing my family. Looking forward to seeing what lessons learned are available from the official report when it is released.
While I would not categorize AIS as mission-essential, we sure missed it when our transceiver died between Mexico and French Polynesia despite the lack of traffic. We now had a dedicated AIS transceiver with its own display and we replaced the VHF/FM with a unit with AIS receive so we have some redundancy.
I just replaced my old eight year old Spinlock Deckvest as the plastic was coming apart with a two year old but unused one with a MOB1 AIS unit. Quite a few improvements over the years. A new lifejacket for my wife will be on this list when we get back up to the Marshall Islands.
Much thanks for all the good work,
That’s indeed sad.
As you say, we can certainly sail without AIS, but, like you, I would much rather not. And now that we rely on it for POB tracking, I guess I would upgrade it to essential equipment.
I have another article brewing on the MOB1 and the options for associated alarms on the boat.
Another high quality article and great to see how one should always rethink and adapt his procedures.
I buy nearly all of it, since our procedure is much less formal, detailed and efficient.
Sailing on a cat, I would fully take the main down as we don’t really need it for the balance. That will avoid an unintentionnal gybe during the recovery process even though i imagine that “to strike the mainsail’ means to tighten it parallel to the hull (can you confirm ?).
I would also keep the ManOverBoard wording. Although I fully understand the PersonOverBoard way to put it, and have pleasure reading, if I ever get someone to answer my distress call, I can be quite sure that he knows what is a MOB, less certainty on POB (re the english skills). Ok Overboard should suffice but I would hate to waste time on VHF because of it.
This is minor consideration but details might make a difference.
Thanks for the job done as we should be practicing this summer.
“Strike” meads to drop the mainsail to old farts like me. I should change it to more modern usage, thanks.
And yes, we would definitely sheet into the centre line, so I need to add that too.
Thanks for both.
I agree that MOB is better wording, albeit of lesser equality. In NZ “POB” is a common acronym for “persons on board” and is widely used in Trip Reporting with coastguard and NZ Maritime Radio, ie. “we have 3 POB” or “persons on board”. “Persons overboard” and “Persons on-board” sound quite similar. “Man Overboard” I agree is more distinct.
Similarly, I prefer “Roger” (even though it is technically archaic) to “Affirmative” as affirmative can be easily confused with “Negative” if someone is too quick to speak into their VHF mike. And for some reason “Romeo” is not widely used!
Wow, who knew. That makes a strong case for converting to MOB. That said, we are saying “Person overboard in position XXXX” on the radio, not POB, so probably not a problem.
I think we will continue to use POB in our writing here, particularly since I always define it at first usage in an article. One of the many things that Phyllis has taught me is that when you are a member of a minority in a situation, as women are in offshore sailing, inclusive language really matters a lot more to you than members of the majority, in this case us men, may think is reasonable. And since I believe that making women feel welcome and valued as full members of the crew is vital to offshore cruising’s future success, I will continue to be pretty careful about this.
consider Crew Overboard (COB)?
Thant would work, although I thing we will stick with POB since we always define it, and we have used it hundreds of times in this Online Book.
Sorry, brain fade – I should have written “Charlie” (for affirmative)
Hi John, another excellent chapter.
May I question how valid it is for us to consider point (2) above before first committing to a rescue technique in your point (3) above – or at least carefully considering the options that best suit our boat and level of crew competence? For example, for Morgan’s Cloud making the decision to arrive back at the MOB with sails up commits your remaining crew (probably Phyllis) to heave-to whilst a recovery is attempted, is that correct?
Leaving most boats to sail themselves in any other mode whilst recovering a MOB in bad weather would be highly questionable – doubly so in that the MOB situation may have occurred with a violent wind change many forces higher than that which the sails are set for. Considering that possibility, is the remaining crew able to hand two or three reefs solo in a short time (say less than 10 minutes) before returning under sail / motor sail? Will the remaining panicked crew member(s) have the seamanship skills to reach back in strong winds (which in our case would be about 4-8 knots even with three deep reefs)? Can they deploy the life sling whilst slowing the boat enough to not dangerously drag the MOB through the water (less than 2 knots)? Do they have the perception of distance on a dark night to estimate distance off the MOB in large waves with a strobe light, alternately disappearing behind rolling waves, and adjust course under sail? Having reached the MOB, are they then able to tack and settle the yacht to heave-to quickly and reliably, all this assuming the MOB is able to hold on to the rescue sling. Meanwhile, they (the crew) remain tethered at all times?
Answering these questions truthfully for us means Jenny can’t safely contemplate a recovery with any sail up, so as I (prematurely) commented in the last chapter, our POB process is under engine only. This has a secondary advantage of keeping in quite close proximity of the POB, and a tertiary advantage that we practice this series of steps every time we drop our sails. But it has a major downside. It commits us to a rescue with no steadying sail with attendant risk of crushing or drowning from heavy rolling alongside. This means our pick up will be best achieved up wind and into the waves, slowly under engine. We have developed a technique for bringing the POB aboard that best suits this part (3) approach on our yacht.
Best regards, Rob
I agree, whether or not to take all sail down in a huge question and one that I’m not at all dogmatic about. We thought long and hard about this one, and may still change our minds based on testing this summer.
That said, being as under-canvased, as specified above, means that there is no need to be fully hove to, to control the boat properly, particularly since I’m pretty convinced that the only right way to do the recovery is up wind—more on that later.
Here are the issues that pushed us to reef and not drop:
Thanks John, that makes obvious sense for Morgan’s Cloud.
Bonnie Lass will heave-to, but it takes time to balance her sails and settle to a gentle fore-reach – not something WE could easily achieve in a panic situation at night. We had several instances of our auto-pilot packing in mid-passage at night and usually on Jenny’s watch!! Being relatively inexperienced as a sailor, Jenny found herself disorientated and frozen by the experience as we veered off course and ended up back-winded, and so as you have said, the more we can simplify our rescue, the higher the chance of success. Maybe with more practise in all conditions, heaving-to during the day and at night, we could modify our process later to leave some sail up.
This article and others in this series are very helpful in challenging and revising our thinking.
I think the key point is that you are thinking about this in the context of your own situation, and that’s what really matters.
One thing I think so many people miss is how the ability to orient quickly varies hugely with experience. Phyllis, despite some 50,000 offshore miles of sailing, can have trouble quickly orienting to the wind at night. Like Jenny, she came to sailing later in life. Neither of them will ever have the instant understanding of the situation that someone like me (or you), who has been on the water from a toddler. We all have to take these realities into account. This is one of the reasons we are abandoning Quick Stop, since it would put Phyllis in a highly unfamiliar situation that could lead to her losing orientation.
Great chapter. Do you have any points on testing your AIS POB beacon without alarming the coast guard?
I will be covering all that in a future chapter, but the short answer is that beacons have a testing mode that sends an AIS signal, but does not mark it as a POB. Ditto DSC.
Hi John. Excellent topic and thoughts. I have experimented quite a bit with POB on several boats and still have to admit that I’m far from certain what is the best procedure. I think your text here is a very good place to start developing what fits each boat and crew. Your description is quite detailed. All details are important, but it’s not easy to have a clear image in mind that can get into our “muscle memory”. According to some specialists, that kind of “memory” needs more than 800 repetitions in a fairly short time frame to be established, and then regular practice to be kept active. So, to make us do a POB maneuver well we either need to practice it way more than I’m going to…. or use an intuitive combination of maneuvers that we use in every day boat handling. A quote from your comment: “don’t ask the remaining crew to do anything that they don’t do every day while sailing.” In that context, all aboard need to have a full set of maneuvers they feel fully confident with. The skilled captain Who won’t let anybody else to struggle with difficult or uncomfortable or potentially risky tasks, thus is a danger to general safety. The physical maneuvers may be well drilled and safe, but to make the sequence of many such maneuvers intuitive, it needs to be extremely simple to remember and understand. If I were to make such a sequence based on what you have presented here, a draft might look something like this: 1. Drop MOM, if POB is close. 2. Stay safe. Depower. Slow down. Get control. 3. Luff to a beam reach or higher. Start the engine. 4. Tack, and move towards the POB. Use the autopilot. 5. Check the boat and engine. Make the distress call. 6. In proximity, slow down more, prepare recovery. I’m certain that this list can be refined a lot. Maybe even this is a too wordy list. I also think that the list should be adapted to boat and crew, depending on how both their properties are. Either way, it’s the type of list that should maybe be permanently visible near the steering position, so we read it every day and can refer to it when it happens. The natural reaction when a POB happens is panick and impulsiveness which normally makes things worse. Such a list would make it easier to refer to the procedure that has been practiced and repeated. It’s not at all a complete description of what to do. Just a way to remember the main steps towards a recovery. Just as important, it’s a way to feel more ascertained that one is doing it right. A check list. A way to keep calm enough to stay operative and able to adapt. A way to always be aware of what is the goal right now rather than becoming a scatter minded impulsive walking catastrophe named Murphy, which is THE natural reaction. I… Read more »
Yes, I think that having a simplified list posted close to the helm would be a very good idea.
That said, I would still favour using the more complete list for drills and discussion. The reason being that forgetting, or screwing up, one tiny detail can break the whole think. For example, on our boat forgetting to set the boom tackle before dropping the main can result in a very dangerous situation so having that step written down helps to reduce the possibility. (Do keep in mind that most of the text in grey is just there to explain our thinking for this post, and would not be there in any sort of check list we would use on out boat.)
That said, the key benefit to our new drill (as you say) is that, unlike quick stop, there are, (other than the Mayday call) no tasks that we don’t do every day when sailing.
I totally agree that every detail needs to be figured out before the situation is reality, to the level that the list will change with every boat and perhaps even with crew situations.
Perhaps the right solution for a list is to have the complete list at the helm, but that it’s visually presented so the main points stand out well and the details are there in small print for reference, if the brain goes into panick mode. That way one would have a quick reference and a complete guide at the same time. Since it will be read several times on every watch, it will soon get properly memorized. That should make a difference…
Yes, I think that’s a great compromise. And I certainly agree that having a list ready to hand is vital. I never understand why we in the offshore boating community don’t use more check lists. After all, pilots have long ago proved how effective the are.
Excellent article on practical application of the AIS personal beacons. My wife and I do have our pfd’s so equipped. One additional item which we’ve started to use on passages is our dive VHF radio. It’s basically a small channel 16 VHF, sealed in a pressure proof plastic housing. Pocket size (at least for our bcd or foulie pockets). We hand it off to the on-watch person when changing watches. Our thinking is that even w/ the AIS beacons, it would sure be nice to have voice coms w/ the POB as the boat gets closer. Obviously would not work w/ an unconscious POB.
Unfortunately the manufacturer, Nautilus, has discontinued the original model, as I’ve heard that authorities were not happy issuing so many MMSI #’s to individual divers worldwide. So Nautilus now just makes the unit as an AIS beacon for divers, much like the ones we carry, but, of course, cannot turn on automatically when a pfd is inflated. No longer a 2-way VHF radio. Likely could find the original Nautilus VHF radios on Amazon or eBay for a while yet. Small and compact, with the antenna folded down into the case until lid is snapped open. Cheers from Tasmania.
That’s interesting, although I do wonder if a POB overboard in any sort of a seaway with white water breaking over their head would actually be able to communicate. I would also worry that the process of trying to communicate with the POB might distract the rescuer. Like all these things, it’s a trade off.
Hi John – and thank you for a highly valuable article. And, sorry to stir the pot, but it’s difficult to resist the urge to suggest some whistles and bells. These might work out as some variation, and/or additional layers of defence. 1. How about towing a warpline or loop when conditions get challenging? This might serve as an additional layer of defence after lifelines, since there is a chance that MOB can grab it before it runs past. If succesful, it will simplify MOB effort substantially because if it’s a catch helmsman just needs to stop the boat by turning it heave-to, or sort-of, and then just pulling the rope to get MOB to swimming ladder – assisted by a winch if necessary. Seems to be much easier than furling the whole sail set, maneuvering, searching and retrieving. And, yes, it’s not an option to hang on the line indefinitely when boat goes 7 knots, but you have the initial option to let the line slip on hand, and then let loose altogether when it just doesn’t work anymore. But it’s way better than nothing. There’s at least one singlehander that was saved by a warpline. I would be surprised if he was the only one. 2. How about rope gun/line thrower gun? (ResqMax or similar) Shoots a floating rescue line over 100 metres/yards. That distance is done on 30 seconds at 7 KN. If this results a succesful catch, we might be again saved from all the further mayhem. if stowed readily accessible on cockpit or stern rail, it might be even launched on time. And if it’s not a catch, but drift… 3. How about an agreed and rehearsed signaling scheme that tells MOB what’s going on and what to expect, and when? Example: — “Man overboard noticed”: one long sound from fog horn. This also wakes up the off watch (if any). — . “MOB buoy thrown”: one long, one short sound. Continue with one long every minute. MOB then better knows how far to expect to swim to get to the buoy, and where to search. — — “Boat turned around, commencing to search area”: two long sounds. Continue once in a minute. — — — “On search area, starting the search and lookout, no contact yet”: three long sounds, once per minute. This tells MOB to start to prepare making himself visible by all means at hand, and act when boat is sufficiently close. — — — — “Contact made, proceeding to MOB direction”: Four long sounds, 1 per min or more. Contact is either AIS signal or visual sighting. ,,,,, “wtf/hurry up”: Five short sounds. This is for final recovery phase, and asks MOB to act to grab a nearby line, if still waiting/passive. I think this might relieve MOB anxiousness substantially. I believe it will be rather stressful situation to wait 20-60 minutes wondering whether to see the boat ever again… Did the crew notice? Is the ais working? When they turn… Read more »
I guess there’s a basic philosophical issue here: the benefits of simplicity balanced against trying to cover off every possible eventuality with more gear.
I’m firmly in the former camp of trying to keep things simple and uncluttered since every added piece of gear has potential downsides and every added procedure (communicating with the POB) can distract the rescuers from the primary goal.
As always these things are a trade off, but the first thing I would cut on your list is any gear for communicating with the POB, just too distracting, and probably not going to work in any sort of seaway.
The other issue is the weight and bulk of all this added gear, that must be worn at all times to be effective. I have been to safety at sea seminars where the recommended stuff to wear gets so impractical and difficult to don that most people (me for sure) will just skip it.
Also, each piece of added gear must be maintained, so I would rather have less gear that’s well maintained than more that might not be.
And more gear requires more training and more drills. For example, I would rather make sure we know how to use the AIS beacon tracking really well, than add the complication of VHF direction finding to the mix. As Yvon Chouinard is want to say “the more you know, the less you need”.
All that said, I will be writing about alternatives and options for the POB module in a future post.
We were out over the Easter weekend and I had a look at our MOB process. I forgot that our very first step is to shout “Man Overboard” as loud as possible (assuming someone is present and the incident is seen) continually as they are releasing the Dan Buoy. This both alerts any off-watch crew, but most importantly alerts the MOB they have been spotted, to expect and get to the dan buoy and that the rescue process is underway.
I believe it is so important for the MOB to have faith that the rescue is happening, and hearing that “Man Overboard!” shout will be of great comfort.
I once sailed with a second officer, who as a young trainee was involved in a multi-vessel search and rescue mission for a MOB, from another ship. It was in the Caribbean in the mid 1970’s and from what I remember of the account, the MOB was successfully rescued more than 24 hours after the accident occurred. My colleague was the young man who spotted the victim in the water, not wearing any life preserving equipment. That taught me that the will to survive by the MOB is as important as the determination and skill of the rescuers. Our process sheet used for crew briefing tells that their job is to get to the Dan Buoy, clip in, to ensure the AIS beacon on the Dan Buoy is deployed and assume the HELP position to preserve warmth – we will be back!
That’s a good point. Since Phyllis and I sail double handed the vast majority of the time, I did not think to include it.
And we too talk a lot in our drills about what the person in the water needs to do to survive. More on that in a future chapter.
based on the gravity of loosing a person over board and the amount of time it takes to efficiently recover in combination with inexperienced crew or many other issues, I am wondering if it would be justifiable to deploy the life raft right away?
Probably a very controversial thought, but I believe my co sailors could be able to remember that and it is quite easy on our boat. Now how big are the chances that you will experience a real abandon ship situation on that trip after recovery of the MOB, probably better with all the crew back on board would be my guess.
I think that’s a very interesting question and idea. One Phyllis and I have talked about a lot. I guess the key criteria is how far your are from the POB by the time you can deploy. Given that even at six knots that’s likely, I’m guessing, to be at least 50-100 meters, I’m not sure it would add much utility since swimming even 20 meters in waves with a life jacket on is very difficult. Also, even with a drogue, and most don’t self deploy, a raft will drift faster than the POB can swim, I think.
So, given that, I think I would hold the raft in reserve as a possible part of the recovery when we return to the POB.
I will be writing more about this in a future chapter about recovery.
Could this be considered the intermediate step? Deployed quickly, one of these would supply added buoyancy and they have the small drogue that would presumably send them in the general direction of the POB. Of course, if said person is unconscious or has a broken limb and can’t swim, it’s only a glorified marker for a few minutes of the general vicinity of “last seen”. https://www.plastimo.com/en/safety/ior-dan-buoys/perche-ior-gonflable-9387.html
As always very inspiring thoughts and discussions, and this time on the unthinkable situation… I have a couple of thoughts I wonder if you like to comment on:
Your strategy is clearly based on a two person crew, with the MOB situation leaving the remaining crewmember single handed for all the needed tasks. It might be interesting also to have a thought of strategy if there was two persons left on board; what might be wise to change. For example, the key rule of assigning one person to point and watch and never leave eye sight of the MOB, that is of course not possible for a single handed crew, but with the new technology (AIS-PLB), I still have that procedure in my drill to assign someone to point and watch. Possibly once AIS-PLB is noted to function and boat is slowed down and under control and other tasks to safely reduce sail area, tack etc, it may be better use of the point-n-watch person to assist in boat handling? Any thoughts on that?
Another important aspect to communicate and drill for crew more than 2, I think, is to take charge of the situation. It may well be the skipper that goes overboard, and then within a split second one of the remaining crew need to take charge of the situation, and act as skipper, very clearly delegate tasks to the remaining crew.
This is something that can be decided beforehand; like if the skipper is MOB then NN takes responsibility for MOB recovery… In my experience when practicing MOB drills it helps if the helmsman is also skippering (delegating tasks to remaining crew). Any thoughts on that?
Looking forward to next chapter on recovery methods. On Hrimfare I use rescue sling to catch and teather a MOB (that is consious), and we have a very nice scramble net from Markusnet.com, where an unconcious MOB can be pulled in an rolled up against the freeboard (not so comfortable but it works without too much forced).
PS. Here is a very illustrative video of the recovery of the Andrew Taylor that went overboard from the Clipper race in 2013/14:
and his description of the situation:
On whether or not a crew member should be delegated to watch the POB, I guess the key criteria is whether or not we plan to use the Quick Stop. If not, there does not seems a lot of point since with any kind of reach and return strategy the POB will be out of sight very quickly and the remaining crew would be better employed getting the boat sorted out and turned abound.
And yes, with more than two crew, there should be a clear chain of command, not only in the event of POB, but just generally. In our case, Phyllis is clearly, to any other crew aboard, the mate and in command in my absence.
Hi Again Martin,
Also thanks for the links. I was not aware of that one. Seems like once again the key to rescue was an AIS beacon. I have ordered Andrew’s book to learn more.
True, it all comes down to boat speed and complexity at the time and sea state I guess, that dictates the time to sort the boat out and visibility as well. I have been doing quite alot of fishing and hunting for sea ducks and so on and it is amazing how easy it is to loose track of the visibility of a small bobbing object in only medium rough sea state if one dont have a spotter only pointing and looking. But AIS is of course a game changer.
Another interesting observation one can do from that video and also this one from another Clipper MOB event:
Is how difficult it is for the casualty to make any sort of swimming with a big bladder inflatable. The only way to make any kind of progress is backwards I guess. On Hrimfare I have a full set of Crewsaver Ergofit 290N, with AIS PLB, and even though they have two bladders to keep a heavy person with drysuit and gear upright in rough conditions, it is still comfy to wear on deck, BUT, when inflated you are like a Michelin-man and cannot do any swimming, and I think need to deflate the bladder to some extent to be able to board a life raft for example. Some people I know are in favour of the hybrid fixed floatation and manual bladder that the Swedish lifeboat crew wears.
But I have am running the boat under small commercial vessel code and am restricted on manual inflation, but it would be interesting to hear your opinions.
They guys in the link above, also had a hard time winching the swimmer and MOB back onboard here, emphasizing the recovery drill in real conditions…
Additionally, if a POB has only been in the water for 10-20 minutes, in temperate (cold) water, even if the person is conscious it is still not certain that he/she can even grab onto a life sling with numb hands and hypothermia starting to set in, so a recovery with a boat hook and scramble net is what I am thinking of. But I guess that will be discussed in depth in coming chapter so I am waiting with interest for that.
I think Florian’s idea about liferaft is excellent!
It makes absolutely huge difference on ‘rescue time available’ on colder waters.
Maybe the best way to do that is to attach an ‘ejection seat sea rescue’ type pilot’s mini-inflatable-rubber-raft to MOB buoy. It should be very compact when packed, and it’s likely they are avaliable second-hand in good condition.
Also, if kit contains a hand-operated watermaker and EPIRB, rescue even by another vessel is much more likely, no matter what’s the situation of the boat or AIS devices. The only question is heavier sea states. Even real liferafts have capsize risk there , and mini dinghy could be untenable.
But, still, it’s easy to deploy, small, and better than nothing.
I also see some very interesting sides to the thought, when combined with JCs comment. I agree that the actual life raft might not be the thing to deploy. It’s a big heavy item made for a different purpose that takes too much time to drop and that might be useful later in the process.
The MOM kit is normally at least a Danbuoy, a light, a horseshoe buoy and a small drogue. I’d think it should also contain an AIS beacon, in case the personal beacon doesn’t work. If the kit also included a small life raft that could be deployed by the POB, it would not make the kit drift faster. Perhaps the horseshoe buoy could even be skipped, to make the kit more compact and drift even slower.
If the POB can get mostly out of the water, survival time can be extended massively in cold waters. I think such a raft would have to be made for that task. It can be relatively small and simple, thus cheap. It’s quite hard to climb up in an inflated raft, so I’d think it’s better if the POB can unfold it and in some way be on top of it or wear it before releasing the air. The air should probably have two stages. One for stabilizing and the second would lift the POB out of the water and insulate. (A one layer raft bottom is very cold and water collects where the person is.) There could also be a strongly colored canopy to protect against wind and spray and making it way easier to find the POB. This canopy could be supported by air tubes, perhaps inflatable by mouth.
This system would require the POB to do several tasks, but if he/she is able to swim to the MOM kit, the other tasks are no harder. It should be possible to make a kit that doesn’t drift much so the POB can get to it. For that reason, I don’t like the inflatable danbuoys. They have way more windage.
As I’m suggesting new types of equipment: JC mentions ejection seat. Since we’re in a tech world, and we do rely on an AIS beacon, and perhaps other tech in the POB situation. Maybe deploying the MOM kit could be automatic? If it has an ejector that is released by the POB alarm, and the POB alarm is released by the AIS beacon, or the W&P Crewsaver, which might be faster? That would mean the MOM kit will “always” be deployed fast enough to be reachable by the POB. The tech isn’t hard to make, and the items necessary are already in use.
I assume there are some troubles with these ideas, in addition to getting someone to make them, but that will no doubt be figured out. A specialized micro raft included in the MOM kit and an auto-ejecting MOM kit seem to give dramatic improvements in survival possibilities, so it should be worth some effort.
Hi JC and Stein,
I agree, there’s a lot of potential here. That said, I think to be really useful the device will need to be both automatic and purpose made.
As it happens I have some experience with this area—getting a manufacture interested in building such a product—and unfortunately the news is not great. In fact a product somewhat like that existed (I got one of the last 3 a year ago) but is no longer made because the sales volume was not high enough to make it viable. More on that in a future post.
One other thing I would say is I definitely would not want to add a bluetooth/phone device as the trigger. If we really want to make this thing work properly it should be industrial strength and part of the base AIS beacon, not something that depends on someone having their phone on, charged, and the app loaded. And that reminds me that I need to learn more about the exact a activation sequence on the various AIS beacons, which I will do for a future post. However, I think AIS activation time is a lot faster than the people selling CrewWatcher are portraying.
Do folks here typically have their chartplotter and AIS on 100% of the time? If not, turning those devices on needs to be part of the documented recovery procedure.
Yes, we always have our AIS and plotter on. I know some people turn the plotter off at sea to save electricity, but turning the AIS off would be a big mistake. Not only would we not receive a POB alarm, but we would also not be warned of nearby ships. So yes, anyone who turns off the plotter at sea, should have a line early in their POB procedure to turn it back on.
Hello John Excellent topic and so many good thoughts and ideas. I strongly believe that there is inspiration to get from other branches. The aviation business has for decades improved safety during constantly learning from mistakes , training , SOP ( Standard Operation Procedures). Simplicity, structure and discipline is fundamental to the success. Stein Varjord and you John mentioned the use of a checklist and I believe that would be an excellent reference for the crew. Let me first give a little backgrund information from the world of aviation and then try to put it in a sailing context. The generel experience from training pilots in simulators is that the actions performed within the first 10-60 seconds often is crucial to the outcome of the situation. Our initial golden rules dictate: Fly (the airplane) Navigate ( Make sure you dont fly into terrain or other obstacle) Communicate ( let somebody know) Deal with what is going to kill you first ( For complex and dilemma based situations) This is a very simple rule but very crucial. No reason to start talking or dealing with your failure if you in the progress loose control of aircraft. It is also a very simple structure. We have very extensive checklist, and on top of that a range of situations initiated with a few memory items, because you wont always have time to consult checklist for the initial critical actions. We have extensive training in simulators at least 2 times a year and have regularly other activities that keeps you on your toes. But the checklist is always there for reference if you in the heat of the situation just can’t remember In the world of sailing there will be crew with al sorts of background, resources and training. It would be safe to assume that POB would be an extremely stressed situation where panic and irrational actions could come in play, and also here could the first few seconds and actions be crucial to the safety af ship and crew I strongly believe in checklists because I have experienced that they make a huge difference. They provide a structure and reference when things heat up. If you dont regularly do training in life threatening situations, in a stress full realistic environment, you may very well over estimate your own abilities and find yourselv partly paralyzed. I visualize a plastic coated checklist placed by the helm. For this subject the content could be the following headlines in bold and large letters ( I can never find my glases ) and indented additional information, explanatory to different situations. M-ark the position.( If no AIS alarm hit MOB button or deploy some kind of visible object ) S-tart engine, Idle. ( Is you maneuvering reserve, most modern engines starts within seconds) R-educe sail ( Sub items could include securing boom, check lines in water…..) R-eturn on track ( Sub items VHF…. bla bla bla) And the memory technic could be: M-y S-afe R-escue R-ime ( Sorry… Read more »
Thanks for some great thoughts from the world of aviation. We are definitely going to do a check list since I totally agree with “in a stressfull realistic environment, you may very well over estimate your own abilities and find yourself partly paralyzed.”
I think the key part is the danger of overestimating our abilities.
Hi Klaus sand John,
We sail almost solely as a couple, so we rarely have need of educating new crew. But we have a variation of your suggestions. Instead of a check list we have a “procedures outline”, which, in fact, has very list-like properties. It is basically a crib sheet for procedures/emergencies such as: flooding, fire, POB, abandoning ship, used of pyrotechnics etc. They also function as guides for our occasional practice drills.
These crib sheets are laminated and kept in our reading room (aka head) which is right next to the companionway, with the idea that they will be looked at every now and again to refresh memory as to actions to be taken in an emergency and are also handy to reference if the need arises in an actual emergency.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
I especially love the idea of the “reading room”. Besides the fact that it sounds funny somehow it makes sure that everyone who is on board for more than an hour will most certainly read it, and also take the time to read it.
I also like the idea of a reading room with crib sheets for each emergency. John: maybe we need a post with the crib sheets? Or maybe we could get a special deal with laminated ones to hang on a hook?
Charles L Starke MD
A crib sheet post is an interesting idea, but on the other hand I think that the actual process of putting together our own check lists is valuable in an of itself. And in the same theme, I think that actual procedures should vary depending on the boat and crew. For example, I think Dick and Ginger are planning to keep the quick stop in some circumstances whereas Phyllis and I have decided to commit 100% to reach and return. No right or wrong here, just different boats and crews.
I agree that each vessel should customize their “procedures” crib sheet (or list) to their particular vessel. There might be some value in using another boat’s lists/crib sheet as a template.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
That’s a great document, Dick, and although I have something similar already, I like the way yours is laid out. The only changes I would make is to put the outline diagrams seen on Page 7 on Page 1, also, and to include a top view for optimum orientation. The person reading in may not be quite as familiar as you are with the boat’s internals if part of the emergency is that the skippers are out of action. Might move the location of the bag of bungs higher up, too!
Yes, I think that’s the way to go and what we try to do here: provide a framework for thinking about the issue, whatever it may be, in the form of an article, rather than try to come up with a one size fits all check list.