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Old 10-13-2013, 05:47 AM   #1
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Default An Interesting Saturday

On Saturday morning, Honey Bee was in a cradle and I had started that most delightful of tasks, sanding back the antifouling ready for a new coat. To add to the pleasure, it was blowing hard with occasional showers.

My friend, Ron,called by for a chat and we adjourned to the cockpit for a break. We watched as two guys launched a small plywood dinghy and started to row, with great difficulty, out to a small boat on a mooring about 100 metres from the shore. My wind instruments were running and there was occasional 40 kt puff coming through.

Ron eventually returned to his boat on a jetty about 150 metres away and I, with great joy, returned to the sandpaper and antifouling. I was head down and very focused when I realised that there was shouting from the water and people were gathering at the waters edge. The dinghy was now tied to the small boat, but was upside down. One of its crew was on the boat, but the other was in the water and clearly in difficulty.

Yacht club members were frantically looking for oars for a dinghy, but the wind was still gusting 40 and no-one was confident of being able to row into it. While others tried to set up a suitable rescue boat, I sprinted to Ron's boat, out of sight around the corner. His large tinnie was hanging in davits on the stern and his outboard was sitting on a rail mount. While he dropped the dinghy into the water, I grabbed the outboard and we were rapidly underway.

As we came around the corner, there still had been no success at the yacht club and there was clearly still a problem out on the water. Fortunately, the outboard was

strong enough to push us into the breeze and we quickly arrived at the stern of the boat. By now, after maybe 10 minutes in the cold water with howling wind, the boats fairly senior owner was running out of strength to hang on. Any rescue gear was in the locked boat and the keys had been in the up turned dinghy. He was wearing a Stormy Seas jacket with built in inflatable PFD, but in the confusion, couldn't work out how to set it off.

In the finish, with no obvious, quick, way of getting him either onto the boat or into the dinghy before the cold became too much, I grabbed him by the back of the collar and held him at the front of the dinghy away from the outboard with his head barely out of the water while Ron gently motored to the beach. Even landing on a sandy beach was a challenge as the boat owner no longer had the strength to stand and we needed the shore based crew to help him get out of the water.

He was shortly home and warm again, a great outcome, but it was easy to see how it could have all ended differently and very badly, especially if Ron hadn't been there with a suitable rescue boat.

It was a bit of an anti-climax going back to the sand paper, but I did manage to finish rubbing down the hull that afternoon before the screaming NWly gave way to a SW change and heavy rain.

While the boat owner was not young, I'm not sure how many people would have fared any better. To get out of the water he would have had to pull himself up 3/4 of a metre with sodden clothes adding enormously to his weight. When we got to him, I couldn't move him out of the water at all.

All in all, a thought provoking little exercise.
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Old 10-13-2013, 06:27 AM   #2
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"Any rescue gear was in the locked boat and the keys had been in the up turned dinghy. He was wearing a Stormy Seas jacket with built in inflatable PFD, but in the confusion, couldn't work out how to set it off."

A recipe for disaster there.
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Old 10-13-2013, 09:38 AM   #3
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Good job you guys! It is a very odd yacht club which doesn't have a rescue boat ready to go. Can't beat having a roll up rope ladder attached to the toe rail.
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Old 10-13-2013, 10:02 AM   #4
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Auzzee, its a small club without much on site storage, and there was hardly anyone around. There could easily have been no one, in which case, there probably would have been a death.
The one thought that was suggested was to use the mainsheet to make a stepping loop. Might not have worked as the guy was very weak in the arms.

We have a hinged swim ladder on the back of Honey Bee, but I've even had people swim to the boat and then have trouble pulling themselves up despite the first rung being well below water level. Some people just aren't very strong in the arms. In this case the guy had been rowing hard against a strong breeze and was probably tired when he went in.
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Old 10-13-2013, 04:12 PM   #5
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That's a scary story, guys. I'm one of those "not strong in the arms" folks--partly because I'm a woman, I suppose. As such, as we sail on the North Pacific where it's usually quite cold, I'm a bit paranoid about how to get out of the water in emergency. We have a variety of "tricks" that one can hope would/could work. Some of these would work on any boat.

We do have a set of steps on a rope attached to the toe rail for "emergency" use. Hubby uses these to climb aboard after a swim if we don't have what I call our "brow" swim platform down. He can climb that ladder, I cannot. My method of getting aboard the boat after a swim relies upon our Tinker Traveler inflatable dingy being in the water--it has a "low boarding" nose meant for people boarding when it is used as a lifeboat. Easy. I enter the dingy from the water and then step up onto the boat from there.

But what about emergency?

First off, we do have a life sling. Having said that--our biggest initial worry of using the life sling was whether I would be strong enough to winch hubby aboard if he were the soul overboard. So, we practiced having me deploy the thing to "rescue" hubby. What we learned was that I had the strength to do it, using our big Barient 32 3 speed winches on the slowest setting. Difficulty was in tailing--those aren't self tailing so you're doing the cranking with one hand and tailing with the other. We also learned that the person in the life sling became mighty uncomfortable and could easily fall out of the sling if things were rough. That reminded us that our Mustang PFD with built-in harness that we usually wear and that can also be used to lift a person with would be a better choice than the life sling--if we have a crotch strap attached to the Mustang harness.

So we have emergency ladder which is so-so ( I can't use it) and we have life sling which is so-so (the person should be capable of trying to stay in the harness). Typically, our lightweight dingy is inflated and on deck (unless making an ocean passage) so it is easy to throw it overboard for someone to climb into (as I do when swimming).

If it is not too rough, we can lower our brow/swim platform (a large wood grate about 1.5 ft x 7 ft long) all the way into the water where the person can roll onto it and then we can raise it up (one side at a time) above the water. They still have to be warm enough to then stand up and climb another 4 or 5 ft onto the deck though. We actually practiced this one right after relaunching the boat. I was the rollee and hubby was the one raising the platform side-by-side. It worked but I knew that it wouldn't ever work if I was the one raising the platform alone.

Other things other people have done (this won't work in high winds) include dropping the jib into the water (I don't know how you'd do this with a furler...) but the idea is work the halyard so the jib can get down to water level, have the sheet pulling the clew back to your winch, the person can roll onto the jib and then you crank the clew in--this raises them up to deck level in a "sausage" so to speak.

Based on this system with the jib, there is a product that is a bit of canvas on a line that you pretty much attach to a cleat on the front of the boat, winch in the back and then the person can roll into it in the water and be cranked up to deck level.

If there is a lot of wind, you can still use the jib sheet to help the person aboard: You secure the clew forward on a cleat, but drop the sheet from that cleat down into the water and then back to your winch. The person stands on the line (underwater) and you crank the line in--lifting them up above the water level with your cranking. The only thing this one takes is balance from the victim and strength to crank it in from you.

The main-sheet loop thing--that would work if the person is strong. and has something to grab once they've done the loop stand up part. It works for a dingy entry nicely.

Other things we typically have aboard (but the boat should be unlocked to reach!) are the bosun's chair. It can easily be attached to a halyard to winch someone aboard.

Anyone have other ideas?
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Old 10-13-2013, 04:28 PM   #6
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svhoneybee... I read your rescue tale with my heart in my mouth.
I just want to say - Well done you!!
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Old 10-14-2013, 02:10 AM   #7
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Rather than drop a sail in the water (which was always my plan for emergency rescue in the past) I now plan to use my drogue. It has a mouth almost 6' (180cm) across and is made for holding tons of water; and has a drain to allow it to empty of water whilst retaining a body. In the water it is not so easily maneuvered, and would ideally be best suited to the salvation of someone who can still move about..as indeed would a lifesling.

I have been a bit slack in testing this as a rescue device. My plan is to suspend it from the raised aft end of the boom using a spare mainsheet tackle (As with the lifesling). I plan to hastily rig a preventer from the bow to the end of the boom to keep the boom from swinging inboard.

Has anyone any experience with this method of rescue, or has anyone any helpful suggestions (apart from staying out of the briny in the first place) regarding my theory?
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Old 10-14-2013, 08:54 AM   #8
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I'm reading these ideas with considerable interest. For me, this was a scary experience and I wasn't even the one in the water. Half way through the dinghy trip, I realised I hadn't stopped to put a lifejacket on and I was wearing a pair of heavy overalls over a lot of clothing (its still snowing down here!). It would have read well in the local paper if we had tipped into the water.

All in all though, I like to learn from mistakes and, by preference, from other people's mistakes, so I feel it was worth posting this experience, mistakes and all.

More preparation before setting out in the dinghy would have been good (life jackets, flotation stuff, maybe a lifesling), but it was cold and windy and time seemed to be the critical issue.

Keep the thoughts flowing.
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Old 10-14-2013, 04:01 PM   #9
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I'd think the MarkusNET (see video) would be good.
MOB Scramble Nets and Rescue Nets for Maritime Rescue Operations by Markus Lifenet
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