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To Tether or not to Tether?

goeasy123

Member
Joined
10 Nov 2018
Messages
187
I was out today in 25kts and 3m Atlantic cresting rollers. It occured to me that going over the side tethered to the lifeline running up the side deck was a frightening prospect.... almost certain death at 8kts SOG. Given that I've got one of those handy dandy little PLBs with local AIS and DSC activation to the boat, I have a much better chance of survival without being tethered.

I knows there's a debate to be had about having the lifeline being rigged so that you can't reach the edge, but that's not possible on mine and many boats, particularly when your working ahead of the mast.

What do you think?
 

Comrade Red

Well-known member
Joined
21 Mar 2009
Messages
4,287
Location
Kernow
It's always possible to rig a jack stay system centrally with enough thought and effort, and to adopt a double clip protocol so you aren't untethered whether fore or aft of the mast IMHO.

I guess it depends what value you put on your life. PLB's ain't a miracle cure, and hard to trigger if you've fallen off and taken a lung full of water.

I'd look again at your boat and work out how to rig the jackstays rather than come up with dubious methods that seem a good idea from the comfort of your living room.
 

Laminar Flow

Well-known member
Joined
14 Jan 2020
Messages
538
Location
West Coast
You do understand that survival time even in what might, for northern climes, be considered relatively warm water is not all that long?

In 10 to 16 degrees C you might expect 1 - 2 hours before loosing consciousness and in 4-10 degrees 30 to 60 min.

Long before reaching these limits you will have lost the ability to self-rescue or haul yourself up a ladder.
 

GHA

Well-known member
Joined
26 Jun 2013
Messages
10,506
Location
Hopefully somewhere warm
Stay on the boat! It is possible to push the odds much more in your favour just with some thought and time. Run a line from bow to mast with second short lanyard, do *someghing* I use an adjustable climbing lanyard so it's simple to have it as short as possible.
Imho any thought/money/time spent on plbs etc to mitigate disasters should only be considered after you've done everything practical to stop the disaster happening in the first place.
 

thinwater

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Joined
12 Dec 2013
Messages
2,108
Location
Deale, MD, USA
I was out today in 25kts and 3m Atlantic cresting rollers. It occured to me that going over the side tethered to the lifeline running up the side deck was a frightening prospect.... almost certain death at 8kts SOG. Given that I've got one of those handy dandy little PLBs with local AIS and DSC activation to the boat, I have a much better chance of survival without being tethered.

I knows there's a debate to be had about having the lifeline being rigged so that you can't reach the edge, but that's not possible on mine and many boats, particularly when your working ahead of the mast.

What do you think?
If you were single handing?
If it were night?
If the water was cold enough that you only have 15 minutes and you aren't wearing a dry suit?

It all depends. I wear one when I feel it improves safety, which is always at least one of the above reasons.

(And no one said the tether had to be that long. In a recent racing death, two sailors went over at the same location (bow). The one that was tethered short scrambled back onboard in a few seconds. The one with the long tether was pounded for a few minutes until his (Spinlock) tether failed. Then the cold water got him. They did get him aboard within 30 minutes or so.)

---

Where I would like to see this thread go, is how do you recover a person that is over the side with a too-long tether? Accepted procedures for this have not really been developed.
 

Dogone

Member
Joined
11 Feb 2014
Messages
72
The sea is concentrated sulphuric acid, no, it is superheated volcanic lava. It is not something you can ever fall into. Ever.

Make it so.
 

William_H

Well-known member
Joined
28 Jul 2003
Messages
11,908
Location
West Australia
There is no rule that you have just one jack stay. If you are working ahead of the mast you might consider two tether one to each gunwhale. The tether to the far gunwhale being short enough that you can not go over. The one to the closer gunwhale being slack. Now that is fine once you are in place. To get there you might be able to rig a jack stay along the centre line under the boom or use individual attachment points. Use a variety of length tethers. You must not go over the side.
You are right that being towed on a long tether at any speed is hopeless. I tried it behind my little boat using a chest attachment of the harness. Even though I slowed the boat down to about 3 knots with my drag I was pulled along face first. I could not pull myself back to the boat from behind the boat and all I could do for relief so I could breath was try to roll on my back. Crew had to luff the boat up for me to climb back on. I would not want to rely on PLB for rescue either. ol'will
 

Stemar

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Joined
12 Sep 2001
Messages
12,568
Location
Home - Southampton, Boat - Gosport
The best thing I ever did as far as not going over the side is concerned or, at least, as far as Milady not worrying about me going over the side, was to bring all lines aft so I can manage the sails from the cockpit. If I do need to work forward for any reason, my jackstays won't stop me going over while moving around, but then I have two hands to hold on and can concentrate on not falling. Once I get where I'm going, I clip on - round the mast or whatever - so I can't fall. A three-clip lifeline is way better than a two-clip one for this.
 

Catalina36

Active member
Joined
6 May 2020
Messages
144
I find not going out in 3m cresting Atlantic rollers helps one stay on board. Noticing that it's been blowing old boots for days helps.
 

lw395

Well-known member
Joined
16 May 2007
Messages
41,515
Worth thinking about handholds.
The tethers and jackstays are there as a last ditch attempt to keep you on board.
Your first line of defence is limiting the need to leave the cockpit.
Your second line of defence is good deck gear which allows you to do everything you need while still holding on.
 

Stemar

Well-known member
Joined
12 Sep 2001
Messages
12,568
Location
Home - Southampton, Boat - Gosport
At least those rollers are predictable, at least in the sense that you know they're there. In the Solent, you can have a flat calm then a huge wake comes in throwing the boat around when you don't expect it. The boat that caused it went past 10 minutes ago and a mile away.
 

V1701

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Joined
1 Oct 2009
Messages
3,402
Location
South Coast UK
I mostly single hand and don't see the point of jackstays down the side that are another thing to have to think about and not trip over and would mean you'd be dragged along and likely not be able to get back on board. So for me personally it's either do it properly so you can't go over or not at all. I wear LJ and PLB and be as careful as I can be, if I was contemplating serious offshore sailing I would have a think about rigging something that would definitely stop me going over...
 

dunedin

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Joined
3 Feb 2004
Messages
6,224
Location
Boat (now back in) the Clyde
Definitely the best thing to do is everything possible to avoid falling overboard in the first place.

But for the situation the OP describes (particularly if there is at least one other crew on board), this is exactly why the back-tow lifejacket was developed - LIFEJACKETS
Looks to be hugely safer being dragged along on your back than face forward effectively being force drowned by the water flow. Apparently was developed after sad death of a U.K. skipper, even though clipped on and a fully crewed boat
 

mattonthesea

Member
Joined
28 Nov 2009
Messages
605
Location
Bristol
Similar to others here I see overboard as an almost certain death sentence. I've shortened the lifelines such that I have to monkey along the deck as I am now lower than the guard rails. I have done what the Jumblies (Perdies, the couple off Storm Tactics) recommended and have hand holds all the way to the bow. I've said this before but everything is taken to the mast so I am so used to going forward that it completely normal and not a worrying thing for that occasion when I can't avoid it. Mostly single handed. Been up front to gybe a poled out genoa in a F9 on way back from Azores; exhilarating - even if I couldn't do more than sit up!
 

Spirit (of Glenans)

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Joined
28 Mar 2017
Messages
1,137
Location
Me; Nth County Dublin, Boat;Malahide
I have run my jackstays diagonally, crossing at the mast. I can go forward on the windward one, then change at the mast, to the former leeward one, where it crosses over to the windward side. On the widest part of the deck I can only just reach the leeward lifeline.
When I get back to actually sailing, I intend to get a 3-clip tether, so that when I am forward of the mast, I am unlikely to fall further than the leeward lifeline.
 

Laminar Flow

Well-known member
Joined
14 Jan 2020
Messages
538
Location
West Coast
I try to use the same approach as in mountaineering. While on the move, reduce the distance you can fall and when you reach your workstation, mast etc, you secure yourself to a solid fix point. At no time do you relinquish contact with the boat.
As previously mentioned, getting someone out of the water, once over the side, can be extremely difficult if not dangerous to all involved. I would not hesitate to either launch the inflatable , even partially inflated or the liferaft for that matter, and well tethered, to get closer to the water and the victim.
There was one well known case in Germany where the wife was not able to get her husband back onboard. So she strapped him alongside and headed for port; by the time she got in he was a goner.
 

Catalina36

Active member
Joined
6 May 2020
Messages
144
I wonder how many of us have actually been over the side? I have, off the back of IoW at Atherstone 30 years ago, entirely through my own stupidity. The world goes green and despite being a strong swimmer who'd had a couple of goes at the Solent swim, as I went down and down I wondered if I'd actually come up to get the breath I'd failed to get before the dunking, given that I was wearing full waterproofs and wellies but no lifejacket. You feel very vulnerable when you have no means of breathing.

I relaxed when the bubbles in front of my eyes stopped going upwards and I knew I was starting to surface. Probably the air in the waterproofs brought me up. Once on the surface it was all comedy watching the crew trying to drop the spinnaker while still pointing at me and it all ended well. It might not have been so peachy if for some reason I'd had to swim to shore about a mile away. Not a chance, even in June, unless I'd been able to get the waterproofs and wellies off while treading water. Don't fall in.
 
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