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Crew Overboard Recovery while Chartering

Frequently we move some of our safety thinking to the back when on a charter vacation.  Life is good, we are laid back, so we are not thinking of safety.  But squalls happen, so here are some thoughts about COB recovery.


  1. Clip on; yes, take your harness and tether.  In a squall, or a beat to the last stop in a strong breeze you may want it.  Remember, many charter boats do not have all the hand-holds we have on our own.   TSA regulations currently let you bring an inflatable harness in checked or cabin luggage; print out: and wrap it around your vest.   NOTE: many Caribbean islands do not allow you to carry on the gas cylinders – at least two of mine are in islands starting with “Saint”.  However, I was told they could be in checked luggage.  You still may want to put a note in there if caught on the checked X-ray.
  2. Look around for places to clip on.  You may have to be inventive.
  3. Take it easy.  Do not push the boat and crew as you would on your boat.  Level the boat by bearing off or furling the jib if you have to go forward.
  4. Train your crew.  I know they all are on vacation, but if you are overboard, you need the less-experienced folk to be able to get you.
  5. Use all the usual COB prevention tricks you know.


COB Recovery:

You would most likely use the Quick Stop with a Lifesling method to recover someone.  But there may not be a LifeSling on the charter vessel.

  1. Try this:  tie a long line to a cockpit cushion and to the boat before setting out.  Don’t have a long line?  Think about bringing 100 feet of a spectra line or floating poly line; it doesn’t take much of your luggage space.  This helps you establish a connection to the boat without hitting the COB
  2. You may be towing a dinghy.  Try getting the COB connected to the dink, by pulling her/him to there with the line above.  You could even try bending a long line to the dinghy painter and using that as the “Lifesling”.  The COB can flop into the dink and re-board from there.  In extremis, s/he holds onto the dink, you pull it alongside, and someone gets into the dinghy to help him/her back aboard.
  3. PRACTICE   Remember, you are not in your boat.  If you are in a catamaran, it will behave much differently than your monohull.   Throw a fender over and practice retuning.  Remember you will most likely use the engine to assist on a charter boat.   So all aboard should practice turning on the engine and powering around.  (Do not wrap the prop). 


Dick York 12/3/2016