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Safer Boating Week - Man Overboard video - A sailor’s worst nightmare

by Colin Preston on 15 Oct 2014
Man Overboard! Colin Preston
As the Coastal Classic and general summer sailing draws closer this short video shows just how quickly someone can fall overboard.

The incident happened within minutes of starting the Richmond Yacht Clubs Spring Regatta race around Rangitoto and Waiheke islands with reduced sails in 20 – 30kts of wind. Our bowman got caught up in the jib sheets during a tack and was dragged overboard headfirst into the cool waters of Auckland harbour.

Getting to crew on Prawn Broker for the 50NM race around the islands I was looking forward to a quick fast ride on with forecasts of up to 30kts for most of the day. However I hadn’t figured on dragging a crewmate out of the water or going over myself but donned my inflatable lifejacket just in case. With the bowman and I having latched our lifejackets to our wet weather gear (including crotch straps), the main reefed and No.2 jib set we were well equipped for the race start.

However not seen in this video is the bowman’s trip to the top of the mast five minutes earlier to retrieve a wayward halyard flying the sponsors flag. Having recovered from that episode the pre-start manoeuvres started with our bowman then getting a quick tack dive from the bow of Prawn Broker. He was wearing a manually operated inflatable lifejacket and dinghy smock so didn’t get too wet despite his total immersion but an automatic lifejacket would have deployed upon entering the water.

A person will disappear overboard within seconds and, as in this video, the fall or splash may happen unseen unless the crew happen to be looking in that direction. Then add to this the pitch black darkness of night sailing in the Coastal Classic or any other night race or journey and the need to wear a lifejacket is even more apparent.

Sail-World wants to ensure the safety of all sailors and boaters and encourages our readers to take on board the messages from Maritime NZ’s Safer Boating Week from October 17 -24.

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