If someone falls in the water, having a man overboard rescue kit on your boat can aid in your rescue attempts.
Your man overboard kit should contain
stand-up pole with flag
attached life ring, and
You should learn and, if possible, practice these five simple steps to perform a proper man overboard, or crew overboard, rescue.
1. When a person falls overboard, immediately drop the man overboard rescue kit into the water. This gives the person flotation, a way to signal you, and a way to stay in your sight.
2. Keeping the person in sight, circle immediately. Stay close and keep maneuvers as simple as possible. Circle based on the sail set or helm location.
Sailboat on starboard tack, circle to the right; on port tack, circle to the left.
Powerboat helm on starboard, circle right; on port side, circle left.
3. Circle to a position upwind of the person, and use the boat to block the wind and waves. This position also keeps the boat and person together. The boat will drift toward the person and give you more time to complete a rescue.
4. Throw a line to the person, get him or her alongside, and secure a permanent attachment. Use either a line with a loop in it or a wide webbing or foam loop.
5. Get the person aboard, preferably with a hoist. You need a simple, strong, fail-safe system. Try out your hoist to make sure it works.
Once the person is safe, don’t forget to pick up your man overboard rescue kit.
Thanks to the Editors of America’s Boating Compass for allowing this article to be republished.