Man Overboard

Laurence

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Man Overboard

It was an early November evening, dark and cold and the Hamble was ebbing at over 4 knots in places. We had just come back from a weekend in Bembridge (boats were still rafted up on the visitors pontoon despite the lateness of the season) and I was returning the tender to her spot in Crableck Marina, whilst Liz, my partner, was at the other end of the pontoon picking up assorted bits of gear that we had taken out of the dinghy.

I’m not too sure how it happened but I think I must have overreached to grab a hold of another dinghy in order to pull myself into place. The tender flipped and I went under water. I was wearing full foul weather gear including boots but no life jacket.

I remember the next bit very clearly. My first thought was annoyance or concern that my head had gone underwater as this is the point from which most heat is lost. My second thought was that I would almost certainly have a heart attack (having been the subject of recent heart surgery) and my third thought was that the water was not particularly cold and why do people make such a fuss about swimming in winter. I also remember feeling particularly stupid. These thoughts all passed through my mind whilst still under water although it can only have been a few seconds.

I surfaced and shouted for Liz. At the second attempt she heard and ran back. It took her a moment to realise that I was in the water, by now hanging on to the edge of a pontoon with the ebb sweeping my legs under it. Liz tried to pull me out but to no avail. She shouted for help but no-one responded. It was then that I spotted the steps over the side of an adjacent pontoon with their newly painted tops in Dayglo orange installed, presumably, for idiots like me. They were only a few metres away and I worked my way through the moored dinghies and climbed out of the water.

I stripped off, dried with the help of few T shirts and got (most of myself) into a fleece babygrow garment that Liz always seems to have but never wears.

If the dinghy had flipped whilst rowing from boat to pontoon we both would have gone in to the drink in a faster current and the end result may have been tragically different.

We all know that the trip in the tender out and back to the boat (or, worse, to and from the pub) is the most dangerous part of most voyages but familiarity had bred a high level of contempt in me and I hadn’t worn a lifejacket in the tender for years. Now that the good Lord (or a benign Fate) has been kind enough to give me a painless reminder we are reviewing our safety procedures and starting a series of long overdue Man Overboard practices under sail and power and laying down hard and fast rules concerning the use of lifejackets in the dinghy and whilst deploying or recovering fenders and warps.
 
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Hmmmnn! Chilling tale....

.. we should all take note. We all know it makes sense.

You didn't swallow any of the Hamble did you? The Crown Commissioners will want it back if you did AND the'll charge you rent!

Steve Cronin
 

scottie

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had the same happen with a mirror dinghy
put all the bits away and tried to walk fwd
got to the mast and pitch poled
when I got to boat with a ladder it had a BGB boxer at the top

maybe it was called byron
 
G

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Getting in and out of dinghies is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Some years ago we had a member that fell out just as he was attempting to get in and drifted down to the next mooring, where by he held on to the bouy and started to shout his head off, luckly someone heard him and he got rescued. However he didn't learn by this and very shortly after was found drifting down stream under an up turned dinghy, drowned. The police believe that he untied the dinghy, wrapping the painter around his hand, stepped off the boat onto the gunnel whereby it immediately "flippped" and as he went down the opposite gunnel came up and hit his head knocking him out. He was not wearing a life jacket and subsequently drowned still attached to the dinghy. The fishermen who found him are still in counciling I believe, having turned the dinghy over and found a body under it. We should all wear life jackets when using such dangerous bits of kit called tenders, dinghies or inflatables.
Peter Aird
RNLI SeaCheck Advisor
 

scottie

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Read a report from U S coastguard that over 50% of bodies recovered by them at sea had the trouser flies open

RYA did a boat handling competition a few years back one trial was to recover person from the water
They used a very realistic dummy which was just as well from the number of times that it was run over, battered and lanced with a boat hook just as well
 
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Do dogs like the tops of ladders?

That reminded me of the time we didn't make the last locking up at Chatelier on the Rance. We settled into the mud alongsaide the "waiting berth". Scaled the ladder at about 8pm to go for dinner to find myself nose to wet nose with a huge Doberman. The fading light of dusk just at the right angle to illuminate two deep red retinas. A low gurgle was starting in his throat. The rest of the crew were following me up the 8metres of slippery ironwork in hungry anticipation of the "Degustation" ahead so there was no possibility of retreat downwards from this "Hound of Hell".

Just then he opened his mouth (Jeez the smell - what DID they feed him!) to reveal a set of enormous long, albiet stained, white fangs. A back flip was being considered, weighing up the relative merits of crashing down on the sprayhood or having my face shredded there and then, when the decision was made for me. Horatio, as we later found out his name to be, planted one big sloppy lick from his huge tongue right from my top lip to my forehead, the gurgle turned into a yelp and he rolled over expecting his tummy to be tickled. I quickly scrambled over the sharp wet edge of the wall but didn't oblige him. One of the boys thought him "Cute"!

If I ever taste snake venom then it couldn't possibly be worse than his saliva.

Got a few "sniffs" from the waiter that night and le Patron insisted on keeping the door open most of the time. As to the quality of the meal? Well I thought that the Pastis aperitif and the starter tasted a bit funny but the other courses were superb!

Steve Cronin
 

Boatman

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So easy to do and we all get lazy. I have now insisted that life jackets are permenantly attached to foul weather gear so the second I put it on it's there in case. You'd be amazed at how quickly you get used to wearing them and the strange looks won't be a problem for long either.
 

rogerroger

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I suspect the reason most people don't wear life jackets in the tender is they like to leave them on board rather then having to cart them home in the car.

I sometimes go down to my boat on my motorbike and simply don't have room and there's nowhere to leave it with the tender. (I have been seen screaming down the A3 on my Honda dressed in a full set of Mustos as they've not fitted in the paniers!)

One thing I have considered though is using old bouyancy aids in the tender that could be left with it rather than use my expensive Crewsaver life jacket.

Roger Holden
www.first-magnitude.co.uk
 

Avalon

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Was in the USVI earlier this year. Apparently USCG regulations DEMAND that sufficient PFDs (personal flotation devices) are carrried on the tender for every person on board. Those who do not comply may be heavily fined, or keel hauled or whatever. Fair enough, you may think.

There is a drawback. Assuming that you do not want to wear or carry your PFD while shopping ashore, you have to leave it in the tender. It will probably have been stolen by the time you return - so you risk being fined, keel hauled, or whatever on the way back to your boat - as well as having to buy new PFDs. At least they're cheap out there......

As a result, most people (ourselves included) kept a couple of old lifejackets permanently in the tender, firmly attached to an eyebolt in the transom with a heavy chain and padlock. Quite useless of course, but it complies with the regulations...

While appreciating the possible dangers, let's hope that nobody tries to introduce such regulations here......

Phaon Reid, S/Y Avalon of Arne
www.sailingontheweb.com
 

Bergman

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Re: Do dogs like the tops of ladders?

The real worry is what he licked immediately before he licked you.


PS

Did the dog complain about the taste?
 
G

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Fell in when getting into the dinghy in Bembridge from the yacht. Managed to grab the side of the yacht and made my way around the the folding steps I have, like many other boats have on the transom ..... two of them, one just about waterline, the second halfway to the deck. It only took a minute or so to get around the stern, but by that time I was cold and found it impossible to get a foot up onto the bottom step .... it took 2 guys to get me in - luckily from another boat we moored alongside. The first thing I bought when I returned home was a proper boarding ladder that can be mounted anywhere along the deck and over the side that has at least two rungs BELOW the water line. Then my lass will not be stuck looking at me unable to help. The folding steps are relegated to getting out of the dinghy ONLY .... they are worse than useless as they gave a false sense of security ....
 
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When doing the fire-course for the MN ..... one thing was said .... if you hurt the guy you save, at least he's alive. Better a broken leg than dead !

Just a thought !
 

chippie

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Yes, being in the dinghy without lifejackets is something that I too have been guilty of, but I remember my instructor on my boatmaster course saying their main use was so the authorities could find the bodies as hypothermia killed most overboarders.
We werent sure whether he was jesting or not but it made us seriously think about it all.
 

steffen

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I never understood the fun of using a dinghy to get ashore. I mean, we have arranged things properly, we can get our boats to a berth or a quay everywhere so we can simply step ashore.
The only danger we have to face is climb over five or six boats in the dark at the risk of breaking our legs or necks.
 

Laurence

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It is not a question of fun, Steffan, but of necessity. My boat is moored in the middle of a river - I use a dinghy to get to and from it.

Always coming alongside is anathema to many boat owners who like nothing more than anchoring away from quays, docks and marinas and enjoying some peace and quiet.
 
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