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The Importance of Practicing MOB Drills and Crew Training
You might just save a life!
By Captain Andrew F. Seligman
I would like to tell you a short and true story. I was racing a J-27 one day at the end of September 2004. My club, Liberty Sailing Club, runs club races on Wednesday and Thursday nights. This was the end of the summer racing series and fall frost bite racing was starting the following Sunday. We had a beautiful race and the sun was setting on the
We were approximately one mile north of the
This woman looked very tired, like she was going to go under. I instructed another member of my crew to take a spinnaker sheet and tie a huge bowline so the loop would be large enough to slip under the woman’s shoulders. Two people were performing the figure eight maneuverthe helmsman controlled the rudder and the main sheet, and one crew member controlled the jib sheets. As our vessel approached the woman, we tossed her the spinnaker sheet with the bowline in it and put a rope ladder down into the water. Now, for anyone who is not tired, climbing up this rope ladder would not be easy. I had suspected that the victim would be too tired to climb the ladder when I instructed a crew member to tie the bowline in the spinnaker line as a back-up systemthis indeed turned out to be the case. The woman tried to grab on to the ladder, however, she could barely hang on. We attached the spinnaker sheet to a winch and, with the help of my crew, hauled the woman into our vessel. Aside from being tired, the woman was ok. We dropped our sails and motored toward the bow-rider.
As it turns out, the bow-rider was anchoredin the middle of the channel. This channel is transited by oil and container ships as well as large tugs with barges performing lightering operations (transfer of liquid or solid cargo from ship to ship at sea). The “Captain” of the vessel yelled to me that he did not have a VHF on board. I am not sure if he knew the purpose of a marine VHF or how to use one if he had had one on board. I asked him if he had life jackets. He said, "Yes" and I told him to make his entire party (all 8 of them not including the woman I had on board) put on life jackets. The woman told me, as did the "Captain”, that their vessel had hit something and their engine would not work. So the “Captain” asked his cousin to go into the river (4+ knot current) to check out what was wrong. The woman did NOT have a life jacket on and she WAS NOT tethered to the vessel. This created a dangerous life-threatening situation.
Ok, the sun was almost to the horizon and I looked south on the river. And………
I saw three white lights in a row with red and green lights. These lights were approximately 1 mile away as they were just north of the
I contacted the USCG station group
Lessons to Be Learned From This Very True Story:
1) Practice MOB drills regularly. Only repetitive training will ensure you can do it when you need it.
2) Safety precautions should never be underestimated; as the Captain you are responsible for the well being of your crew and passengers. Be a Captainnot a "Captain.”
3) Always continue learning and training while having fun.
Captain Andrew Seligman is a United States Coast Guard Licensed Master with Sailing and Towing Endorsements. He is also a Certified American Sailing Association Sailing Instructor and is an instructor at the
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