Please select your home edition
Edition
Ancasta Ker 40+ 728x90

Short or long tether - it could be life or death

by Des Ryan on 29 Aug 2011
Safety tether - but safe only if used safely .. .
You're sailing solo. The wind is brisk but not dangerous and you're safety conscious as you work the foredeck with life jacket, harness and tether. You know your equipment is new and strong, and you feel secure in the knowledge that even if you fell overboard the tether would save you. But maybe not so...

History shows that one of the elements that can cause the death of a sailor is the length of a tether which might allow him to fall overboard.

There are two options on most tethers, one longer than the other to allow more flexibility of movement.

Even with a full crew on board, if a sailor's tether is attached on the longer connector, he might not only fall overboard, but be unable to be retrieved by the best-intentioned crew. Sail solo and there's no-one to help. It might be uncomfortable and irritating, but a short tether is more likely to keep you on board.

Here is a recent incident as related by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), which thankfully ended successfully. However it doesn't take much imagination to understand that in different circumstances the ending might have been tragic:

A Scottish sailor from Blackness Boat Club survived spending an hour drifting in choppy and cold waters across the Firth of Forth when he fell overboard from his yacht recently.

The 63-year-old had been alone on his 23ft vessel, the Puffin, when he found himself in the water shortly after setting off from Blackness. Although he was wearing a lifejacket and had a safety line to his yacht, Jim could not manage to get himself back on the boat.

He was spotted by the three-person crew of a Leith tug, the Beamer, that was in the area and was taken aboard. They informed the coastguard, who in turn contacted the RNLI Queensferry Lifeboat Station, where helmsman Martin Crawford and crew members Heather Still and Stephen Nesbitt launched the lifeboat.

An RNLI spokesman said: 'The lifeboat crew quickly located the tug Beamer, and took the casualty aboard the lifeboat and rushed him to Blackness where an ambulance waited to take him to Stirling Infirmary to be checked over, as he had been in the water for an hour.'

He added, 'The guy fell out of the yacht just off Blackness, he was just setting off. He was obviously on a line and the yacht more or less sailed itself, drifted, across the Forth with him hanging off it.'


Every yacht is different, but a rule of thumb would be that if you attach yourself to the lifelines or the jacklines, you should always use a shortened tether, and only use a long tether when attached to a strong point in the middle of the deck.

For your particular yacht, why not measure the distances while in port - this will give you a good idea of when the long tether can be used, and when it is essential to use a short tether.
..........................

Email from reader in response, with a solution once you have found yourself in the predicament - but it needs awareness and practice first:

Sender: Ranger Steve Verchinski

Message: This could be an instance that sailors, who haven't been formally trained in the finer arts on land might give a bit of practice...

Mountaineers have had to rely on themselves for self rescue out of having fallen - usually unexpectedly, into a glacier crevasse (That's an opening into solid frozen as opposed to liquid water - for those who have never seen the real thing)

Usually it's not a self rescue but assisted ... why?
With a safety line to the mountaineers waist...kind of a teather...a climb up while suspended with a 50-80 lb. pack is not likely unless 1) an anchor is placed by his or her mate to which a Z rescue pulley system is attached to the line going down to the fallen climber ..usually a two person job or 2) multiple mates up on top are able to pull you and your pack up.

Most of the time however, the mountaineer down in the crevasse has to use his or her strength to assist in the rescue especially if a suitable place to anchor is not available or your fellow climber above is also injured. This means having to use a prussik system on the line either mechanical or by means of a prussik knot. Most climbing books will deal with it and even discuss the issue of wet line and means of adapting the knot and the line used for rescue to overcome.. Requires some practice but it sure beats stayin overboard in 50 degree or less water...

Bakewell-White Yacht DesignNaiadBarz Optics - Kids range

Related Articles

Great Barrier Reef managers and industry prepare for summer
Marine park managers, scientists and experts recently met for the annual pre-summer workshop Marine park managers, scientists and experts recently met for the annual pre-summer workshop to assess climate-related risks to the Great Barrier Reef over the coming months. Current predictions by the Bureau of Meteorology and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are for a summer of average sea temperatures across the Great Barrier Reef.
Posted on 7 Dec
Hyde Sails Distributor in Denmark places 1000th order!
Congratulations to Kjeld Larsen, Hyde Sails distributor in Denmark, on placing his 1000th order with the loft! Congratulations to Kjeld Larsen, Hyde Sails distributor in Denmark, on placing his 1000th order with the loft! Kjeld has been working with Hyde Sails as a distributor since placing his first order in March 2008.
Posted on 7 Dec
Two Oceans, One Rock in a Proa.
A Proa is a multihull sailboat common in the South Pacific and Indonesia. They have two different sized, parallel hulls. A Proa is a multihull sailboat common in the South Pacific and Indonesia. They have two different sized, but parallel hulls. Jzero, the Proa pictured here is a shunting boat and does not tack. Ryan Finn is launching the modified 36-foot Proa, so as to accomplish the fastest-ever, nonstop solo-sail, around the Old Clipper-ship Cape Horn Route from New York to San Francisco.
Posted on 2 Dec
Predictwind release improved racing and cruising routing function
PredictWind has released a major upgrade to its Routing function, taking a much more graphic and interactive approach PredictWind has released a major upgrade to its Routing function, taking a much more graphic and interactive approach to what has been a black art of weather routing, used to chose the fastest route for racers or most comfortable route for cruisers.
Posted on 28 Nov
Only room for one at the top
The results of RMIT's (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) independent testing are in. The results of RMIT's (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) independent testing are in. Zhik® is the market leader in waterproof durability with a new standard that replicates the real world sailing environment and conditions. It is an astounding four times more so than the previous leader.
Posted on 28 Nov
Parlier reigns supreme in Hydrofoil Worlds
The south westerly breeze kicks over the land mass over north facing beach, making for flat water despite strong wind. Whatever the shortcomings of the Fremantle Doctor on the first day of competition, were made up for in spades on day two, when the wind kicked in early at 15 knots and quickly built to 18 with gusts as high as 26. The Rockingham course is perfectly suited to such conditions. The south westerly breeze kicks over the land mass over the north facing beach, making for flat water despite strong wind.
Posted on 27 Nov
Fourth Blog from on board Perie Banou II
Oh no - not the coffee cup Oh no - not the coffee cup - Jon keeps us all entertained as he approaches Reunion Island. The B&G chartplotter tells me since leaving the pleasant mid Western Australian town of Carnarvon (by world standards, an isolated town), that I have sailed some 2559 NM and have 751nm to go to Le Port Reunion Island. French. Reunion is a Suburb (department) of Paris. Population 844,000.
Posted on 23 Nov
Third Blog from onboard Perie Banou II
Wind over the last week has been quiet and mild - Trade Winds from South East and South South East. It is 0830am here. 1030 in Western Australia. Windy. Rather Windy. Wind over the last week has been quiet and mild - Trade Winds from South East and South South East. Barometer 1018 to 1020 whatever they are. Last night I tapped the barometer and it sorta went oops. 1015hPa. Blimey.
Posted on 18 Nov
Second Blog from onboard Perie Banou II
This is day 13 since leaving the mid Western Australian town of Carnarvon. Remote region. Beautiful town. This is day 13 since leaving the mid Western Australian town of Carnarvon. Remote region. Beautiful town. Kept cooler by the strong south winds, which make the trees bend and grow to the north. Carnarvon is nice, especially the months of September, October, November, and December. The wind is strong. Often near gale strength, with squalls and blue skies.
Posted on 15 Nov
NoveNove Maui Aloha Classic - Day 14 - A dramatic final day
After a week of light winds trades finally returned on last day of NoveNove Maui Aloha Classic to provide pulsating end After a week of light winds the trades finally returned on the last day of the 2016 NoveNove Maui Aloha Classic to provide a pulsating end to the event, which saw Kevin Pritchard (Starboard / Ezzy / MFC) defend his single elimination crown, while Sarah-Quita Offringa fought her way back through the double elimination with be crowned the women’s Aloha Classic Champion.
Posted on 14 Nov