How to Sail: Man Overboard Procedure

How to Sail: Man Overboard ProcedureWith this “How to Sail” Course we top up your sailing skills and remind you of the man overboard procedure.

Although sailing isn’t a hugely dangerous sport, it is of course not without its risks, so it does pay to remind yourself and your crew of the procedure should the unthinkable happen and you have a man overboard incident.

The following is the accepted procedure that is part of the syllabus of RYA courses.

  • Alert the Crew – shout “man overboard and press the Man Overboard button on the GPS, this immediately marks the position.
  • Throw a life buoy and also a dan buoy to the Man Overboard, the life buoy can save their life and a dan buoy allows you to better spot them in the water, even better if it carries a radar reflector.
  • Allocate a member of the crew to maintain sight on the man overboard in the water, and keep pointing.
  • Send a Mayday and DSC distress alert.
  • Start the motor if you are under sail, sheet in the mainsail and drop the headsail if you can. Make ready a throwing line and manoeuvre the boat downwind of the man overboard, come alongside ensuring the propeller has stopped.
  • If the unthinkable happens and your engine fails, then you will need to approach under sail. Sheet in the mainsail and turn away onto a beam/broad reach. Sail away for about 6 boat lengths then tack aiming the leeward side of the boat at the man overboard. Then point the boat back at the man overboard until your mainsail is flapping, you should approach the man overboard on a close reach so that you have control of the mainsail as you slowly approach the man overboard on your leeward side.
  • Get your line around the man overboard and get them onboard!
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