There are countless articles, books and courses that focus on recovering a person overboard, but what really matters to the short-handed crew offshore is making as sure as humanly possible that a person overboard situation never happens in the first place—we need prevention, not cure. This chapter introduces this Online Book and that basic concept.
Person Overboard Prevention
The focus of most of the discussion about sailing safety is on recovering a person who has gone overboard. But the sad fact is that if you fall overboard from a short-handed boat at sea, you are probably not going to be rescued. John, who has sailed over 100,000 miles short-handed and much of that in cold water, gives practical advice on harnesses, tethers, life jackets, and jacklines, as well as many tips on procedures that will keep you and your loved ones on board.
Table of Contents:
Before we can come up with good and effective person overboard prevention systems, we need to think about and clearly understand the risks we are dealing with, which I examine in this chapter.
We have written a lot about gear in our ongoing Person Overboard Prevention Online Book, but all the gear in the world won’t keep you safe if you don’t heed this tip.
The key to person overboard prevention is never losing contact with the boat. In this chapter I take you through an easy to use (with a little practice) system, which we have evolved over 20 years sailing offshore short-handed on our boat, that will enable you to stay clipped on at all times and still have the mobility and reach to sail your boat properly.
Most of us offshore sailors rely on clipping our harness tether to a jackline to stay safe. But, in many cases, we are totally deluding ourselves, because if we do go over the side, something may break and cast us adrift, or we will drown by dragging.
There is so much wrong with commonly-used person overboard prevention systems that I couldn’t fit it all in one chapter…here’s Part 2.
In the last two chapters we discovered that the jackline systems most of us use for POB prevention are pretty much useless. Now we are moving on to what to do about that—the good stuff.
Centre line jacklines are the right thing to do…but not easy to rig so they actually work. Here’s how we solved the problems from mast to bow.
We have shown that sidedeck jacklines are deeply flawed and may even be more dangerous than no jacklines at all, due to drag risk and the false sense of security they confer. But can we get rid of them and still work our boats efficiently? Yes, we can! Here’s how, with video proof.
Are you making or ordering jacklines to keep your crew safely on the boat? John takes a deep dive into the right material, stitching, and attachment techniques. This is truly a project where the details matter.
Our project to improve person overboard prevention systems has been a long and winding three-year-to-traverse road. But we are nearly there. Here’s the first of two chapters on tethers.
In the last chapter, John wrote about the two different types of tethers he and Phyllis use on “Morgan’s Cloud”. In this chapter he follows up with the details of how they build each type.
Your harness, its fit, and how you use it are among the most important parts of staying safe on a boat offshore. In this chapter I share what we have learned in 140,000 miles of offshore sailing, most of it short-handed, about harnesses, features to look for, and their use.
To be safe we need to be open to reviewing our assumptions in the light of new information. John takes a fresh look at the Spinlock Deckvest that he and Phyllis have used for years, and also revisits the whole issue of wearing crotch straps, or not.
John takes a look at the innovative TeamO Backtow Lifejacket/Harness.
What about using a climbing harness with tether for Person Overboard Prevention? John takes a look at this oft-suggested idea.