Safety Harnesses, what to do when it all goes wrong?

farmerdan79

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Having read this:

http://www.yachtingmonthly.com/news/527162/mob-as-yacht-knocked-down

and other accounts of individuals being dragged alone (sometimes underwater) because they have gone over the side with a harness attached, One particular incindent (featured in PBO a few years ago) where the individual concerned had to take off their life jacket in order to stop them being dragged along and subsiquently drowning, What is the best way for:

A) crew getting someone back on board in these situations quickly (clearly it sounds unimagiably tough)

B) as the casualty (or "victim" as my day skipper instructor called them), what would you do? Cut away? Hang on and hope crew can cope??

Thoughts?:confused:
 

Seajet

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That's one hell of a photo'.

When harnesses first came into use, they often had a rope line spliced on, with a simple carabiner snap-shackle.

A few people got dragged under by sinking boats etc, so a hook at the wearer end as well was introduced, then the Fastnet '79 taught us to use proper webbing and double action safety hooks.

I don't see what else the crew could do, but it's a good job the skipper didn't release his line ( maybe not possible as he'd have to pull it to take tension off ).

The only options as to recovering him seem to me to only apply in clearer water; they did the right thing getting help and to safety for all ASAP, maybe a good thing he was the skipper, so as to be experienced ( don't know about the crew, I'd guess they are too ).

If they'd rounded up to try and recover him, quite possibly all would be lost.

Edit to add; I've alway been a firm believer in combined harness / lifejackets, and think of the skippers' position if he had felt he had to release his line ? Difference between a faint chance and zero.
 
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PetiteFleur

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I have gradually upgraded all our lifejackets/harnesses to Automatic Harness type with Lanyards & Gibb hooks each end. Incidently when the Wichard hooks came out which are sometimes fitted nowadays, I found difficult to operate and my wife just could not work them at all! So we have stuck with the Gibb type which are easy. I fitted 4 'U' bolts in the cockpit to make hooking on easier and within reach.
 

trapezeartist

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Two enhancements spring to mind:

1. Run jackstays near the middle of the boat, not along the side decks.

2. Use 3 hook safety lines, so the shorter one can be used whenever greater length is not essential.

These two factors will reduce the possibility of a person being swept over the side before the safety line and harness holds him properly.

As for the incident in question, I wonder if the yacht could have hove to and then recovered the MOB. Once they were not making way and the boat motion was calmer, they may have been able to join a second safety line in series at the boat end, allowing sufficient length for the MOB to float around and be retrieved by whatever method was appropriate.
 
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Location, Location, Location - Thoughts On Harness Lifeline Securing Points

Two enhancements spring to mind:

1. Run jackstays near the middle of the boat, not along the side decks.

2. Use 3 hook safety lines, so the shorter one can be used whenever greater length is not essential...

I would add that reasonably taught wire jackstays are better in so far as they do not stretch, unlike webbing. Having used both types in wild conditions I will opt for wire every time. As I said on a previous post I dont accept the wire rolling under foot as a reasonable risk for rejecting wire. I have never had issues with wire underfoot, despite sailing a yacht almost full time, for many years, that had individual head sails and hence a lot of deck work.

It is also important to have U bolts, or other secure points in the centre line of the cockpit for crews to clip onto. The helmsman's anchor point is usually conveniently placed on the stern which does not prevent the helmsman from falling over the back. It would be better to have an anchor point forward of the helms position again on the centre line.

Jackstays should terminate at a distance from the bow or stern (especially on centre cockpits which may have a long aft side deck) that prevents crew from falling overboard i.e. when at the bow or stern the lifelines should have most of the slack taken out. I remember on one yacht trying to free the spinnaker pole from the foredeck (it had fouled the forestay fitting). I had my head low down with my shoulders leaning into the pulpit to brace myself. My harness line was hanging lose over the bow and it was not inconceivable that if I fell through the pulpit I could have been on one side of the hull while the harness line was on the other side having passed under the bow.

Food for thought.
 
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johnphilip

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Glad it was not me

Two thoughts on the reactions above
"heave to for a steadier motion" In THAT sea?
"Wire jackstays so they don't stretch." I would always want stretchy lines, if you fell you need the give to break your fall. Fall arrest harnesses all have stitched in folds that are meant to give progressively to avoid back breaking jerks.
Well done the lifeboat. I suspect that in those conditions even the best rehearsed MOB lifting scheme could be nigh impossible.
 

Seajet

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I agree entirely with Johnphillip !

As to having jackstays on the centreline, which really does work, on my 22' boat I found that a U bolt harness eye each side and close to the mast step is extremely handy.

A standard harness line can be left clipped on by the mast, and will reach the cockpit allowing crew to transfer from cockpit line to this before going on deck; it also allows one to just reach the forestay for sail changes etc.

I do feel that netting on the forward guardwires, an old idea almost lost thanks to roller headsails, is still very worthwhile - keeping not just sails but crew from being washed through the wires.
 

barrow_matt

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I guess there will always be pros and cons to being attached to an out of control object weighing a few tons but I would rather be attached and have a chance to recover.

One thing you can't underestimate though is the weight of the waves hitting you. Anyone who has tried surfing will have a better appreciation of this, its a lot of force which when coming off a surf board tends to pin you for a few seconds underwater before you pop back up, quite scary at first!!
 

alant

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That's one hell of a photo'.

When harnesses first came into use, they often had a rope line spliced on, with a simple carabiner snap-shackle.

A few people got dragged under by sinking boats etc, so a hook at the wearer end as well was introduced, then the Fastnet '79 taught us to use proper webbing and double action safety hooks.

I don't see what else the crew could do, but it's a good job the skipper didn't release his line ( maybe not possible as he'd have to pull it to take tension off ).

The only options as to recovering him seem to me to only apply in clearer water; they did the right thing getting help and to safety for all ASAP, maybe a good thing he was the skipper, so as to be experienced ( don't know about the crew, I'd guess they are too ).

If they'd rounded up to try and recover him, quite possibly all would be lost.

Edit to add; I've alway been a firm believer in combined harness / lifejackets, and think of the skippers' position if he had felt he had to release his line ? Difference between a faint chance and zero.

"When harnesses first came into use, they often had a rope line spliced on, with a simple carabiner snap-shackle."

Recently resurected by Spinlock on their LJ's.

You get a free 'knife', just in case!:rolleyes:
 

Baggywrinkle

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Make sure u-bolts are compatible with your harness!

U-bolts or eyebolts of small diameter can cause carabiners and snaphooks to "roll-out" or "capsive" when rotated on one leg of the u-bolt so that the gate bears against the other leg.

Happened to me once a long time ago, it's quite freaky to find the other end of your tether banging around in the cockpit after you know you definately hooked on. Always make sure harnesses, particularly on other peoples boats, charter boats etc. have locking hooks, and that the u-bolts, eyes or other tether points can't open the hook.

Not a boat harness but this set of videos demonstates what can go wrong ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLbttyukTJg&NR=1
 

planteater

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U-bolts or eyebolts of small diameter can cause carabiners and snaphooks to "roll-out" or "capsive" when rotated on one leg of the u-bolt so that the gate bears against the other leg.

Very good point! I'd never considered that. I have a central webbing jackstay and a central cockpit eyebolt on a 22'er. I'm going to check the eyebolt and safety lines on Monday.
 

PetiteFleur

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U-bolts or eyebolts of small diameter can cause carabiners and snaphooks to "roll-out" or "capsive" when rotated on one leg of the u-bolt so that the gate bears against the other leg.

Happened to me once a long time ago, it's quite freaky to find the other end of your tether banging around in the cockpit after you know you definately hooked on. Always make sure harnesses, particularly on other peoples boats, charter boats etc. have locking hooks, and that the u-bolts, eyes or other tether points can't open the hook.

Not a boat harness but this set of videos demonstates what can go wrong ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLbttyukTJg&NR=1

That's why all my lines have a Gibb hook each end - much safer, easy to use(unlike Wichard) and does not come undone accidently. I've seen an article on USA lines which have a different quick release hook at the harness end which when you press the button the hook opens in the centre, incredibly unsafe in my view.
Oh, and I would NEVER have wire jackstays - they roll underfoot, so unsafe in my view that I won't go forward to the mast to reef on my friends boat. Webbing is far safer and in my case I have snap shackles at each end so when not on board they get put in a locker and therefore don't suffer from UV degradation.
 
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