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Thread: MOB Testing

  1. #1
    despondent correspondent Photoboy's Avatar
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    Mar 2010
    SF Bay Area
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    MOB Testing

    Tis the beginning of Spring, and with it the offshore season for some and sailing in general for some others who have not put on the
    foulies in months. Yachting Monthly has reprised their previous MOB Recovery piece and makes for some insightful options on how you
    might get the unfortunate back aboard in any given seas state with your given gear aboard your vessel:

    Testing MOB retrieval and recovery kit

    Look at your boat, or at any other boat around you. Chances are the pushpit will be adorned with all sorts of boxes and belts, pipes, lines and gizmos, all designed to help you get a man overboard (MOB) back onto the deck. But how many of us have tested the kit to see how easy it is to use? Does the average skipper even know what’s in those brightly coloured pouches?

    The aim of this test was to lift the lid on these portentous packages so we could find out how to use them, discover what problems we might encounter when doing so, and learn which bits of kit worked best in order to bring a casualty alongside, then get them back on deck.

    Recovery techniques

    There’s a lot of discussion and instruction on how to find your MOB, but very little about how to get them back on board. We tested three methods to find out which was quickest and easiest, and how it might be made easier still.

    With an unconscious casualty in the water, options are limited. If conditions allow, deploy an inflatable dinghy and retrieve the MOB by hauling them over the tube. Otherwise, you could use the boat hook and a pick-up sail, or a halyard clipped onto the casualty’s harness. The methods we tried all assumed that the MOB was conscious and not yet cold enough to have lost the use of their hands, which could be as little as 10 minutes after falling in. Pixie has a bathing ladder but we avoided using it to board, because in a seaway the transom is no place to be.

    Pixie has Barient 22 primary winches and I was using a 10 in winch handle. I was expecting to labour seriously while winching a 17-stone casualty out of the drink, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought. I took it steadily and Kieran was on deck after no more than 45 seconds’ winching.
    A bigger winch and a longer winch handle would have made it easier still. An electric winch would have made this both the quickest and easiest method of recovering an MOB.

    The main advantage of this method is that it’s quick, in a situation where speed is of the essence. All you need to do is get some slack in the topping lift or main halyard, pass it to the MOB, who clips it to the D-ring on his harness, then start winching. Another advantage is that the MOB is raised adjacent to the shrouds, giving them something to grab onto in order to pull themselves aboard. The main drawback is that in some cases, an inflated lifejacket can make it tricky for the MOB to locate the D-ring.

    Our photographer Graham Snook volunteered Pixie, his Sadler 32, as a test bed. Ocean Safety and Baltic Safety UK lent us a selection of standard pushpit safety kit, so all we needed was a real live casualty. To his credit, if not better judgement, our editor Kieran Flatt volunteered to take the fall, wearing a Musto HPX drysuit.

    With unusually rough seas outside Portsmouth Harbour, we abandoned plans to test in open water. Instead, we secured Pixie to a vacant mooring in the harbour, with a mile’s worth of fetch to windward. We had Nick Eales standing by in a SeaStart RIB, mainly to give Graham a photo platform, but also collect Kieran should anything go wrong. As it turned out, with the wind and rain whipping across the deck, Kieran was warmer than the rest of us – and drier, too.

    We didn’t test the standard horseshoe lifebuoy, because it’s no use for retrieval or recovery. It is, however, useful for keeping an eye on your MOB, especially when attached to a danbuoy. A lifejacket gave Kieran all the buoyancy he needed. To test retrieval, we let Kieran drift off, and deployed various items to get him alongside. Then we recovered him, so he could jump back in again!

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  2. #2
    Goode info, thackes!
    sweepe the legg.....

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Group 3 Studmuffin Sanity Check's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    ≈ 38°N 122°W
    Excellent--but I'd be interested in seeing a follow-up study and tutorial exploring what if any differences there might be when using these techniques in warm waters when the victims are wearing bikinis.

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