When you are out on your yacht for a good time, it is easy to forget about the many disasters that can occur. One of the most unthinkable, yet entirely possible events, is a man (or woman!) overboard. Rather than not thinking about such things, the best thing to do is be prepared for them, and in this case, that means you should have in place a “man overboard plan.”
One of the greatest misconceptions regarding boating safety is that falling overboard is something that you only have to worry about in rough seas or bad weather. Nothing could be further from the truth! The fact of the matter is, it is very easy to lose your footing due to a slippery deck, or sudden swell, even in otherwise calm conditions. That is why it is so important to always have a man overboard plan in place.
Your Man Overboard Plan
The very first part of a man overboard plan is knowing how to swim! Statistics have shown that most drownings in a man overboard (MOB) situation are adult males who do not know how to swim. So, if you are a guest on a boat, and do not know how to swim, it is good idea to wear a life vest at all times, and certainly if the seas turn rough. It is also a good idea for all passengers, those who are good swimmers, and those who are not, understand the various situation that could lead to an MOB, and how to best avoid them. Here are a few of the most common causes of a MOB situation:
- Slippery decks.
- Unexpected wakes from passing vessels or worsening seas.
- Getting distracted while moving about the deck, such as by a shout, or some wildlife or other interesting object in the distance.
- Tripping over a protruding object or deck hardware, or snagging some clothing on same.
- A lurch or other sudden change in direction.
- Leaning over low gunwales to fish, sight see etc., accompanied by sudden loss of balance.
- Excessive alcohol consumption and loss of balance and judgment.
- Moving about decks without using secure handholds. Remember always, “One hand for you, one hand for the boat!”
What to Do in the Event of a Man Overboard
Your captain and crew should have an MOB procedure in place. According to the US Coast Guard, basic MOD procedures should entail the following:
- Loudly call out “man overboard!” when a person is known to have fallen off of the vessel, whether the boat is at rest, or underway.
- The captain should immediately respond by pushing the MOB button on their VHF radio, if it is so equipped, and initiate the proper maneuvers to return back to retrieve the person in the water. Depending on the type of vessel and the weather and sea conditions, this could entail a Quick Stop, a simple neutral and recover procedure, or other specific maneuvers, such as a Williamson-Turn.
- A spotter aboard the vessel should visually locate the person in the water, point to the victim, and maintain constant eye contact with them.
- A lifesaving floatation device should be thrown into the water, such as a life ring, or a Dan Buoy. Additional items that float should also be thrown overboard, in effect creating, a “paper trail” to mark the victim’s location, and give him or her other options to cling to. Unless there is someone on board who has had very specific training – NEVER attempt a “swimming rescue” by allowing another passenger or crewmember to jump in after an MOB victim. More often than not, this will lead to two tragedies!
- As the captain safely circles back for the recovery, remaining crew should prepare to approach the MOB victim and haul them aboard.
Like any emergency plan, your MOB plan is only as good as those who know how to use and implement it, so make sure that everyone on board is aware of these procedures.
On Demand Yachting Provides Peace of Mind
Our On Demand yachting solution includes providing for all of your yacht’s safety and maintenance needs. When it comes to making sure you and all of your guests are as safe as possible, having the right crew, and planning ahead for any emergencies, is only part of the equation. You must make sure you have all of the right safety gear on board, and that it is all where it should be and functioning properly. That means, in the unlikely event that they are ever needed, your life raft, along with all PFDs, fire extinguishers, smoke and CO detectors, etc., are all serviced and maintained as necessary. You never want a piece of safety gear to fail, when you need it most!
Maintaining your yacht’s safety gear at operational readiness is just one of the services you can count on from our On Demand Yachting Solution.
Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.