man overboard retrieval using Life-Sling and mizzen boom

john martin <symoondog@...>

We don't carry a man-overboard pole on MOON DOG, but we do have a Life-Sling on the aft rail. We recently experimented with retrieving a MOB in a Life-Sling using the mizzen boom, and it worked really well.

On an offshore passage, I insist that every person in the cockpit carry a waterproof handheld VHF locked on channel 16. Having experienced a man overboard situation in 30+ knots of wind, I can attest to the fact that you can't see him or the pole most of the time, and losing the sight of him is the norm. If the person in the water is wearing a life jacket (inflatable or otherwise) and retains his mental faculties, then he is in the perfect position to instruct you (using the handheld VHF) on how to maneuver your boat back to rescue him. Then your only concern is to throw the Life Sling out, make sure sheets don't foul your prop, tighten the boom, and follow his directions back to you.

After he says he has the LifeSling, then you use the mizzen boom to get him back on board. First you release the mizzen sheet from the traveller. I made this easier by adding a snap shackle to the U-clamp there for quick easy release. Next tie the mizzen boom tightly to the aft mizzen shroud, to keep it from swinging back and forth. Let the mizzen sheet out so the snap shackle end is available for the man overboard to snap it to the LifeSling. Then take one turn on the mizzen sheet around the mizzen winch and then four turns around the mainsheet winch and use the electric main winch power to pull him out of the water and onboard. This system is particularly useful if he is injured and can't easily pull himself onboard some other way.

Of course, getting a MOB up the Amel reverse-transom stern or using the swim ladder are obvious options but could be very difficult in big seas if the boat is rolling much. The swim ladder will swing away from the boat and there is no way to secure it to the hull. The stern doesn't offer alot of room or leverage such that another crewperson could help a MOB much, especially if the MOB is injured.

John Martin
SM 248

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