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Posts Tagged ‘man overboard’

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Longtime racer and New York Times Sailing Correspondent Chris Museler continues to lead the ‘big media’ in providing real journalism about the sport we love for millions of real people, and for the better part of a month he’s been working on a story about safety, death, and the Volvo Ocean Race. 

It finally ran in today’s Times, and we print a short excerpt below.  Photo of Fish from Facebook, credit Jeremy LeCaudey/Volvo Ocean Race.

Libby Greenhalgh was wedged into the navigator’s seat below decks on the Sun Hung Kai-Scallywag when the helmsman shouted repeatedly, “Man overboard”…

The helmsman hit the red man-overboard button at the wheel, which records the boat’s GPS location. But in those frantic moments, the button was not depressed for the compulsory four seconds it takes to record the spot.

Greenhalgh instinctually locked in the boat’s coordinates — 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn in the Southern Ocean — into her navigation software, which shows the boat’s track on a digital chart. That was roughly the position where the crew’s safety officer, John Fisher, 47, was knocked over the side of the boat.

Rapidly calculating in her head how Fisher would drift in the frothy, cold peaks of the waves, Greenhalgh drew a search pattern on her screen. Fisher was miles behind by the time the boat was under control and pounding back upwind into the waves.

Greenhalgh directed the crew, shouting into the intercom. Four and a half hours later, with no sign of Fisher or the inflatable buoy and life ring the crew deployed, she radioed Race Control in Alicante, Spain, that they were suspending their search.

Read on.

April 19th, 2018 by admin

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As the first finishers cross the line in the Bayview Mack race, SA’er Doghouse has provided one of the most comprehensive debriefs of a near-death incident we’ve ever read after their MOB in the Chicago Mackinac. For anyone going out on the water beyond their little harbor, this is MUST READ stuff.  And hey US SAILING- because we know you’re listening – this should be sent out to all of your membership, and its lessons incorporated into the Safety At Sea program.  Thanks to Graham and the entire crew of Meridian X for their openness, and if you have questions for the crew, hit them up in the thread.

I’d like to preface this by stating this is only one man’s perspective, mine and mine alone. As I said up thread, there will be a full article coming out that we are working on, will probably hit the shelves in a month. This is to give everyone a narrative of what transpired, and I think it will answer a lot of the questions I’ve seen posted here.

I am the bowman and boat captain for the Farr 400 Meridian X. Approximately 11:15pm on Saturday night I was off watch in the port quarter berth, when someone said they were asking for me on deck to get the A2 down, and I anticipated the wind must be building as the hull noise below was increasing.

Halfway into my harness and gear I heard massive stomping on the deck to get up, which indicated it was getting bad rapidly so I rushed into my boots and threw on my pfd and went above just after Mark Wheeler who was running on deck for the all hands call as well. At this point everyone was on deck. Before going off watch, I had set the foredeck in the ready position for a quick drop, martin breaker on kite, drop line tied off, J3 lashed to foredeck, which is pretty standard practice in an offshore big boat.

I made about three steps forward when the MOB call came. Mark had gone over the side as described by him in his letter. His light was initially spotted and followed. At the time I had no idea who it was. Luckily everyone was in the back of the boat for weight, and he was seen as he fell over and the call came immediately. Unfortunately, everyone was in the back of the boat, and I was solo upfront with the kite. The trimmer came to the pit and blew the tack, immediately tripping the breaker and freeing the kite.

With no one else around I went straight past the mast and gather the kite foot until more hands made it forward and could help drag it down. It took around three minutes to get the kite completely off deck and attempt to turn back. As we came back up into the wind we were knocked over by a 45-50 knot gale and completely flattened for several minutes, ripping the staysail out of the furler and shredding it.

Eventually the wind abated enough for us to turn back into the wind and begin sailing a reciprocal course, we estimate we were over 2 miles away at this point as we’d been traveling 18+ kts. A few of us wrestled the staysail pieces off the deck, and I had to use pliers to get the tack shackle off as it had distorted in the storm. We proceeded to clean up lines and continue our mayday broadcasts, with the skipper Sledd Shelhorse on the VHF and myself on the hand held.

At this point we were actively looking for the strobe, not knowing it had failed. This led to a lot of wasted time, as there is a fleet of lights out there, and ended up being a huge distraction from getting back to where we needed to be. We realized that there was no light after probably 15 minutes of looking, and began working our way back up wind in a search pattern. We get the main down to hear better. This point was absolutely the most terrified and helpless I have ever felt in my life. I know the clock is ticking, and a person in the middle of Lake Michigan at midnight is beyond a needle in a haystack. The fact we were at the forward end of the fleet means a lot of other boats are coming through, but still crazy long odds.

At this point we think we have heard a faint whistle, but was so far away we are having trouble knowing. We swing slightly to port, then one crew man calls out hard to starboard. As we come around, several of us definitely hear a whistle. We begin to motor, then pull back to listen and make course corrections. We see Aftershock coming at us and begin to hail them. They have apparently heard the whistle just before this, and their jib drops and spotlight immediately comes out. At this point, the whistle is very clear, and I absolutely know we are going to get him, it’s an intense moment, but in a positive way. We pick him up on spotlight rapidly and begin setting up for the grab.

Our helmsman teaches heavy air sail handling and boat handling for Safety at Sea, so we are well versed in what is getting ready to happen. We set up about 30 degrees on the breeze, and grab him on the starboard side around the primaries, then fireman bucket brigade him down the side to the transom where it will be much easier to get him in the boat. We know after an hour in the water he won’t be able to assist. I get him at the back, get the lifesling on, and two of us haul him into the boat. A huge cheer erupts from Aftershock, which I will never forget. He is awake and cognitive at this time, which is good, though not really shaking which worries me. After getting him stripped and down below in blankets, he begins to shake which is a good sign and I know he will be ok.

I am the only other one on the boat who does the navigation, so I go quickly below and start looking for harbors. We are almost due west of Muskegeon, at a range of ~34 miles, so we immediately head that way. I make some hot water for Mark, then climb on deck with the tablet to navigate us to port. Approximately two hours in Mark pokes his head up, and starts chatting, and huge amount of tension finally unwinds. We are gonna make it.

A lot of you guys have asked specific questions, and if I don’t answer them here, just let me know. As far as boat setup, the boat is prepared to the letter of the law on safety. We carried a MOM8, we have four locations to signal MOB, we checked all life jacket lights pre race. We did not have an AIS receiver, and we are absolutely installing one. Mark had a PLB, as did I, and that would have been a boon. I really hope they become required equipment, the cost versus benefit is laughable.

As described above, the kite was set for an immediate drop which is best practice in any offshore event. Windquest had practically an identical situation as us minus losing someone overboard after getting caught with A2 up. They had minute plus knock down, but they were able to blow the kite and get the boat back up because they could release the tack. I don’t believe it’s a stupid question at all to ask about the quick stop (I bring up what we feel the max breeze for a quick stop in every prestart safety briefing, including this one), but it is absolutely not feasible in this breeze. The boat was knocked over with just the main up, you’d end up on your side with a bigger mess and possibly more people ejected off the boat.

Our MOB buttons are on the tablet/computer, handheld GPS, GPS head unit below, and VHF radio. The MOB locations we have became very redundant as one went over the side with Mark, one nobody knew the location of the tablet other than Mark, one was triggered, the VHF, and the other was part of VHF chain, the Simrad. We were able to start spitting out coordinates over the VHF fortunately.  Our MOM did not get deployed immediately, we thought about deploying late, but felt it would be a distraction from getting back to his immediate vicinity.

The AIS receiver and placing MOB buttons in the reach of the helm are the two biggest hardware changes that are necessary, one to track, and one to get a quicker MOB target on the GPS. The bigger changes have to be procedural. We were properly set up for sail handling, which is critical and I can’t emphasize enough. If you get back footed trying to take down a 2000 SF  kite in a gale it could wrap you up for half an hour and cause more carnage in terms of boat and crew.

The issue that needs to be drilled relentlessly is what was mentioned above, you have to practice with crew minus 1. In this case a critical component of our process went over the side, and it negatively impacted our ability to respond. It’s also critical to practice minus the bowman, and have the rest of the team be comfortable in getting the sails down in extreme conditions.

For crew, mandatory to carry a secondary light. As a bowman I have always carried a second light, as I’ve run through this very scenario in my head countless times. Everyone on the boat needs to as well. Whether it be glow sticks or strobes or torches, always have backup. A PLB is a good idea as well.

We are very fortunate to have gotten our man back. Mark and I have done thousands of miles together, in everything from dinghys to 52’s to Vipers to everything in between. I couldn’t imagine losing him, and implore everyone to take this seriously. Our crew collectively has Whitbreads, IACC sailing, Sydney Hobarts, Transatlantics, Newport Bermudas and countless Macs, among many others under our belt, and this is by far the most dangerous situation we have been a part of.

The biggest challenge is that there is very few people with real world experience in dealing with it, so you have to rely on drilling relentlessly and strict adherence to best practices, along with gleaning all you can from people who have dealt with it. I hope this little bit is helpful to anyone who is reading.

Graham Garrenton, a/k/a doghouse

 

July 23rd, 2017 by admin

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oman mob.pngBREAKING NEWS: We are just learning of this… From an Anarchist berthed in Venice, catching snippets from VHF about MOB from “Oman Sail Multihull” in the Adriatic. The sailor is Mohammed Al Alawi, 26. Apparently he was not wearing a life jacket.

Only getting half the conversation from the MRCC side as ships are checking in to assist, at least 2 on scene at the moment.

Position sounded like 44 03N, 014 02E putting them just below the TSS heading up the Adriatic. Listen to the audio from onboard Oman

 

October 6th, 2015 by admin

http://www.camet.com/

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