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Thread: Jacklines and tethers

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Discovery Bay, CA


    Quote Originally Posted by JimQuanci View Post
    When you talked about hanging from your harness... being a new feeling...
    So maybe you have already, but to be sure, do have climbed up the mast several times at the dock (if you haven't already). Going up the mast at sea is 10x harder then at the dock... the only chance you can get to the top of the mast when at sea is having had the experience of doing it several times before.

    As Pat said a few times on the tether man overboard issue... the trick is just not falling overboard (ie frequent use of the short tether). All the other ideas won't work in most situations - ie climbing some sort of ladder or pulling one self aboard through an open stern are only going to work in little wind and little waves. In a more typical "pacific average" 15k of wind with the boat doing 6k-7k and some waves, none of us has the strength to pull oneself back on the boat. At 6k of boat speed you are being pulled under water by your tether - and the load on the tether is tremendous. Recall Moore 24 back in the mid-90s DH with one of the crew down below and the other one being "towed" by the boat... when the sleeping crewman discovered the problem, he struggled to slow the boat down enough to be able to pull their partner back aboard by their tether... had to drop the main to get the boat to slow down enough to get them back aboard... and we all remember the J29, again DH and one of the crew being incapable of getting the other one aboard, even with the crew only being half in the water dangling by their tether. So the odds of saving yourself when singlehanded in the water dangling by your tether are very low... before hypothermia kicks in...

    Stay out of the water!

    I was just up the mast several times in the past few weeks getting ready for the Long Pac. I have been up there several times before, all at the dock. I doubt I would attempt it at sea, it would just be incredibly difficult. When I was younger I owned a Freedom 25 with a wing mast. The main halyard jammed and I had to go aloft at sea. That was crazy as the boat rolled the mast would bend a few feet and twang, wow!!, got the dang thing free though.

    I use a Top Climber with a supplemental climbing harness on a kleimheist around the mast because I do not have a second halyard. I spoke to a rock climber colleague of mine and he told me rock climbers rarely use a safety line but warned our sailboat halyards have been out in the sun, etc and may be less reliable than climbing rope which is disposed of after a couple of years or x number of fall arrests whichever comes first.

    With regard to going over, I have to agree with you. I have a hard time getting on board when the boat is stopped in the warm, flat delta water much less at sea. It just seems critical you not go far enough to be in a position to have to climb back on. Shortest tethers possible for me when I go forward and a hard point in the cockpit which will not allow me to go overboard in any direction so long as my 6 foot tether clipped to it.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Santa Rosa


    Here's a real overboard experience published in "Scuttlebutt" on June 29, 2015 tonight. I don't know what kind of life jacket he was wearing, but SAS teaches us that even with a 35# jacket the wind will orient you with your face facing the waves and make it difficult to not swallow water. A life jacket hood (as on Spinlock jackets) or one you've purchased after market will help. A heaving line. Difficulty getting back onto a Cal 20. Think Cal 40! I think this is a sobering account withj lessons to be learned (as should be the case from any successful potential disaster). Again, I urge you to try a practice event, even if it's one tied to your berth. --Pat

    It happened on the Columbia River, as it passes through Oregon. During a recent evening race, with the wind gusting to 20 knots, three people racing a Cal 20 faced a man overboard incident. Here is their debrief…

    After racing thousands of offshore miles and likely more than a thousand races on the Columbia River, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, Bora Bora and in Puget Sound over 30+ years, I fell off a boat for the first time. Why? How? Who cares? Here are the lessons I learned:

    ♦ It happens in an instant no matter how experienced you are.

    ♦ WEAR A LIFE JACKET. Without a life jacket on, it very well could have been a different result given the conditions. I’m a good swimmer. Still, with the waves and the current, I just don’t know if I could have kept my head above water for as long as it took to get me out. As I recall (and it’s a bit of a blur), there were at least two unsuccessful boat passes. That takes time. I was grateful for being able to lean back and let the jacket keep my head up. Even so, I swallowed a lot of water. WEAR A LIFE JACKET.

    ♦ No matter what you think it will be like when you are in the water, the truth is that you are totally helpless and are completely dependent upon your boat or the other boats in the fleet to get to you. You cannot swim or otherwise help the process other than to keep your head above water, stay calm, save your strength, and wait. It feels like forever waiting for the MOB process to get moving.

    ♦ Without a line to throw to me, the first two passes by rescue boats that were very close to me felt like they were a mile away, and they ended up just wasting time. HAVE A THROW BAG (or at least a long line) HANDY ON DECK. Even with somewhere near 100 years of sailing between the three of us, we never considered having a line ready on deck to throw to someone who we would be rescuing. One crew had to go below to get an extra sheet to throw to me. Seconds matter. A throw bag can be tucked away somewhere handy and not underfoot. We always do it offshore, why not inshore for evening races? Duh! Do it.

    ♦ LEARN TO MANEUVER YOUR BOAT, with or without headsail, so that you can approach from windward very slowly. Passing by the person in the water happens quickly even at a slow speed and each pass takes time and leaves the person in the water that much more susceptible to problems from cold water, waves and other boats. Coming in from windward, at least in this case, created a slick and protected me from the waves. Both boats did an excellent job maneuvering, though the other passed to leeward of me. It was going very slow and got very close, but the breeze pushed them away from me and without a line to throw, I could only watch the boat drift away.

    ♦ HAVE SOME METHOD TO GET BACK ON THE BOAT. From the water level, even the short topside of the Cal 20 looks like the side of a barn. I grabbed the line my crew threw me, got pulled alongside, reached up and grabbed the mainsheet turning block on the gunnel and then, with one person holding the shoulders of my life jacket, we began figuring out how to get me aboard. In the words of “Captain Obvious”, it’s a bit late for that. Also, without a life jacket on, I don’t know how they would have held on to me. Just saying.

    I finally got pulled around to the back of the boat and climbed on to the outboard motor mount, which beat me up pretty good. Without the motor mount as a seat and stepping stone to get pulled/climb aboard, I know I could not have pulled myself aboard, and the guys onboard would have had a tough time pulling my behind out of the water from the side of the boat. We’re going to have some kind of stowable ladder before the next race.

    ♦ One of the crew never took his eyes off me. In the water, whenever I looked over at the boat, he was eyeballing me. It helped me stay calm, and it made sure the helmsman knew where I was at all times as he maneuvered the boat.

    ♦ THINK ABOUT ALL THIS IN ADVANCE, PREPARE, AND PRACTICE. It is no time to learn about what to do, or what you have at your disposal to solve the problem when someone is already in the water. It’s too late. Seconds matter. Think ahead. This is where all of our years of sailing and doing MOB drills and attending Safety at Sea seminars and, well, having talked about it and practiced before paid off. Newbies take note. Old salts… you don’t get a pass just cuz your beard is grey.

    ♦ WEAR A LIFE JACKET. Even though I was wet and cold and took a bunch of good-natured ribbing from fleet members after the race and did a lot of self-deprecating jokes about it all at the watering hole with a cocktail in my hand, walking into my house and seeing my lovely wife of 37 years was sobering when I thought of the alternative. THIS SITUATION IS NO JOKE. WEAR A LIFE JACKET. ‘Nuff said.

    Tags: Cal 20, education, Man Overboard

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