FROM THE NAV STATION
This item within the "Top-20 Countdown to the Mac Solo" is one of the most important. One of our GLSS rules states that we must be able to demonstrate a re-boarding system for the solo. It's a pretty general requirement for a very important task. It is appropriate that the rule is in general terms since each boat has its unique characteristics. The re-boarding system will likely vary from boat to boat. However, it is worthwhile to share what we do!
Step #10 - Develop Your Overboard & Recovery System
Too many times we hear about boating accidents that result in the loss of life. Investigations list issues that contributed to the disaster. And often, as a sideline to the investigation, there is a phrase that says,"...the boat was towed ashore..." Or to put it another way, most of the time,the boat survives the incident.
At the front end of the preparation for the Mac Solo, we work hard to ensure that the autopilot is tuned to the boat to keep it sailing while we do other things. A well-tuned autopilot will continue on its course even if we fall off the boat - that's a scary thought. It's important to develop a foolproof technique to stay with the boat during a disaster.
If we could pick the time and place to fall off the boat, it sure would be a lot easier. Why not pick a Sunday afternoon, temperature 87-degrees, sunny,and not a wisp of wind. And what the heck, why not have the shampoo fall in the water just moments before! Unfortunately, you'll probably have more luck at the casino! Plan for the worst. Assume the wind is blowing 20-25 out of the northeast. It's raining. Dark. And you have fallen off the high side of the boat - at the bow.
The first key to my overboard recovery system is my tether. GLSS rules say that it must always be connected while outside of the cabin. However, it is important to think beyond the tether. If I were to fall off the boat, my plan would be to get to the back of the boat and climb up the swim ladder. But that is easier said than done if I were to fall off the high side at the bow. There are two issues: The tether itself is not long enough to get to the stern and the tether needs a way to get past the shrouds and stanchions.
I use the following steps to set up my system:
Now... Assume the worst, and you will have to use all of the above: Clip onto your deck jack line with your primary tether. Walk up to the bow on the high side. While you are up there, a rogue wave hits and you are in the water. Since you fell off on the high side, there is no way that you could reach the rail to pull yourself up. And since you are on the bow, your lanyard cannot slide on the deck jack line past the stays or the stanchions. Grab your secondary tether and clip it onto your second jack line that is hanging along the outside of the boat. Grab your knife and cut your primary tether. Then slide freely back to the transom. Pull the line connected to your ladder to pull your stern ladder down. Climb up the ladder. Clean the crap out of your pants.
I wear a SOSpenders that has a harness included. I connect my extra tether to the harness, then stow the tail of that secondary tether inside the SOSpenders. I also stow a knife in my SOSpenders (as well as my personal strobe). Now... Fortunately, I have never had to use this system. And... I don't know of anyone else in the Society who has. However, I feel that I am prepared for that worst-case situation.
This is only one system. It is the one that I use. My suggestion is to look at your boat and ensure that you have an overboard and recovery system that is foolproof for you. Develop your system that you will want to work perfectly - and hopefully you will never use it.