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The best link I could find is the New Zealand Coastguard page:  This has advice for power and sail boats.

MOB is a difficult subject which needs constant practice to ensure you are ready for it.  Some organisations (eg the RAFSA) insist that a crew performs an MOB practice EVERY TIME a cruise is started.

Getting back to the MOB is just the start.  Recovery will be more straightforward with a strong crew; with a single person left on the boat it will need special gear and more practice.  (See links above for suggestions).

Remember this can happen at night and in poor conditions.  Prevention is best - clip on to a strong point with your safety harness.


The RYA method is:
  1. When the MOB happens TACK IMMEDIATELY.  Do not release the foresail sheet. This is called a 'crash tack'.  It is surprisingly effective in stopping the boat close to the casualty, and the boat will drift down close to  the MOB. 
  2. Throw flotation items like horseshoe buoys, cushions, or whatever is to hand.  Also put overboard the dan buoy (floating pole with a flag and light to assist you in locating the MOB). 
  3. Send a MAYDAY message
  4. Call to the MOB to reassure him.  Ensure a crew member is nominated to point at the MOB while recovery takes place.  It is frighteningly easy to lose an MOB in waves or poor visibility.
  5. Throw a heaving line to the MOB to start recovery.
  6. If the crash tack does not work, roll or lower the headsail, centralise the main boom with the sheet, ensure there are no lines overboard and start the engine.
  7. Motor downwind and approach the MOB upwind, stopping with the MOB near the bow.  Ensure engine is in neutral to avoid injury from the propeller.  Cut the guard rail tie lines to assist recovery.


A simple way to recover is:
  1. Sail on to an "apparent" beam reach (burgee across the boat). Allow yourself some sea room to manoeuvre and get yourself organized to recover the person from the water.
  2. Tack and sail on the opposite beam reach (person in water now on weather bow).
  3. Approach on a close reach easing the sheets in the final stages.  You could furl the foresail to avoid injury from flapping sails and sheets, and sail under mainsail alone.  Leeway will increase as you slow down - allow for this.
  4. Ease sheets completely to stop the boat, coming into wind to slow down, but avoid stopping head to wind as you lose control.
  5. In a larger boat it is easier to come alongside to windward of the person in the water and make the recovery over the leeward (lower) side.
  6. In a dinghy, come alongside to the leeward of the person in the water and make the recovery by he weather shroud.

Recovery up the stern ladder is OK in  calm seas.



00 mins 00 Seconds Flying the kite, good boat speed. Doing foredeck duties, allís fine. Hit wave. Backwards pike dive off the boat.

00 mins 02 Seconds Enter water head first.

00 mins 10 Seconds Float to surface.

00 mins 30 Seconds Breathable boots and waterproof gear fill with water. Sink under the water. Find pull cord on life jacket. Only half the Velcro fastenings part but floated back to surface. Now getting cold at hands arms and legs.

01 mins 00 Seconds Eyes focus from salt water and see the racing fleet coming towards me. Spinnakers flying. (Can they see me in the water?)

02 mins 30 Seconds See X-treme shedding kite and turning to come back for me.

Amazing how far down river she seemed. Now feeling very very cold. Both arms and legs shaking beyond control. Having great difficulty keeping my head above the small choppy waves. Started to swallow water whilst trying to breath. Good job had Tetanus jabs last year.

04 mins 30 Seconds Another yacht in race fleet tried to get next to me but went past me to fast to be able to render me assistance. Am very grateful for their attempt.

08 mins 00 Seconds Cannot use my arms or legs and the shaking has stopped. X-treme now getting close under full engine power and against the tide.

10 mins 15 Seconds Alongside the boat and the crew grab me. Nearly safe. Having no crutch strap on life jacket now causes a problem. Two strong lads are holding on to me but I was too heavy with all the water in my clothing for them to lift me. Problem being not much else but life jacket to hold me with. The more they tried to pull the more the chance of the lifejacket pulling off over my head.

Only half out the Velcro life jacket being better than none if I had slipped back in. Had I gone back into the water at this stage without the jacket I would not be typing this report.

12 mins 30 Seconds Main halyard under my arm pits and winched back on board.  Now is when central heating on yachts would be very handy.

13 mins 00 Seconds Carried down below and taken out of wet gear. This I could not do for myself.

22 mins 30 Seconds With every bit of dry cloth wrapped around me. I started to shake again. Still could not use my hands and feet. Progress now being made at getting warmer.

Having never been a man overboard in the past there are a few lessons I have learned.

I will insist that ever person who sails on my yacht WILL wear a life jacket.

After sinking quickly and having to find the toggle whilst under water. If I had banged my head or arms whilst falling overboard and been unable to help myself, I would have drowned. I will get an automatic one.

Although I have purchased a new life jacket every two years and examined the gas bottle each six months I have never taken the inflatable part out. I have relied on the fact that the manufacturers design would allow it to fully open when needed. I will open the Velcro often on the next one to ensure it will open IF there is a next time.

There have to be crotch straps to enable you to be lifted to safety.

There will be Silver foil and woollen blankets kept on board even when racing around the cans. Cannot afford the central heating.

One last thing. Even in summer time the River Mersey is still very cold. After two or three minutes your ability to swim rapidly diminishes, and I am a very strong swimmer.

Hope this article HELPS.

John Nuttall


Posted 29th  March 2010