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MOB - She couldn't pull him back on board

by Des Ryan on 29 Jul 2009
UK Halsey video image shows THREE men having difficulty in getting a comrade back on board during a demonstration video. How much more difficult for single female SW
A romantic boat trip to mark a wedding anniversary that turned into a dramatic rescue operation this week shows again how difficult it is to get someone back on board a sailing boat once he or she (particularly he) has fallen overboard.

The husband and wife, from Hertfordshire in the UK, set off from Birdham Pool Marina in Chichester Harbour to celebrate their 40th anniversary.

The yacht was a mile off Hayling Island and he was on the bow, changing sails, when a rogue wave washed him off the boat into a choppy sea.

He was wearing a life jacket, and his wife, who was not an experienced sailor, threw him a rope and tried desperately, but could not pull him back on board. He was left hanging, the wife called for help, and hypothermia began to set in.

The wife made the distress call at about 4pm and two lifeboats were sent. The man was plucked from the water approximately 45 minutes later by lifeboat crew member Jasper Graham-Jones, and was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Carol Carter, from Hayling Royal National Lifesaving Institute(RNLI), said:
'He had a lifejacket on. Had he not had a lifejacket on, he would not have survived.'


Editor's Note:
Following the passive publication of this story on the Sail-World website, Andy Parnell, keel boat sailor, raised the point that she could have used the mast halyard, attached it to him and reeled him in, using a winch, and also commented that this technique was part of introductory sail training courses he used to give (what a good idea). The woman in this case had had no training, but could have well benefited from this lesson in this potentially lethal situation.

Letter since received, also excellent:
Sender: Ivan Hills

Message: After purchasing a 1975 Vineyard Vixen 30 I realized that I could not possibly climb in from overboard. With the dinghy it might have been possible but it was mostly left on the mooring when I went for a solo sail. The remedy was a folding SS ladder with hook and loop securing the fold and a lanyard hanging to the water line. It also made general boarding from the dinghy more comfortable, especially in a chop.
Yes, one should wear a life preserver but climbing in a bulky jacket is more difficult. Same for life lines. Good to keep you safe but an obstacle for climbing back aboard. That's why I like my boarding ladder. It is rigid thus does not follow hull curvature like many cheap, rope ladders, and when it is extended there is a gap in the life line. However, sometimes the genoa sheets foul on it.. One cannot have everything.

Editor's Own Note:
Staying clipped on while working on deck is also a sane idea, especially, but not only, for the solo sailor, but this is not rocket science.
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