Man Overboard Recovery Maneuver

The Crash Stop or Quick Stop

ais beacons family largeCruising yachts are mostly sailed by couples and are essentially short handed when it comes to making vigorous sailing maneuvers. When a crew member goes overboard it is always at the worst possible time and completely unexpected which means that the reaction time to start the correct maneuver is usually not good.

The man overboard recovery method that we prefer, being shorthanded is called the “Crash Stop” or “Quick Stop”. It works in almost all situations and requires only one crew member and no sail trimming.

The MOB Recovery Maneuver Sequence

Crash stop catamaran

  • MOB – head up to beam reach and go two to three boat lengths
  • Tack the boat without touching the sheets
  • Once the jib is back winded turn the helm all the way back as if you were trying to get back on the tack you were originally on.
  • You will be in the hove-to position, which means that the pressure in the jib will not allow you to tack back and the rudder and jib will cancel each other out and you will be stalled.
  • Lock the wheel hard over so that you can leave the helm and attend to getting the MOB gear deployed – Once in the hove-to position, the boat will stay like this until you decide to either release the jib sheet, straighten the wheel and start sailing again or alternatively, jibe out of it using the rudder.
  • On some cats you might have to drop the jib. Then travel the main sheet all the way out and sheet it in tight. All cats are different, so this is something you should practice on your own boat to see what method works best for you.
  • At this stage you can ease or trim the main to ensure you remain in hove-to position. Note that on most boats all that needs to be done is to release the main sheet and let the sail luff. Once in the hove-to position, everything slows down and allows you to gather your wits to deal with the problem.
  • At this stage you will be slowly crabbing back towards your MOB at under a knot.
  • You can now elect to start the engines to maneuver the boat to the MOB or if you are going towards him you can heave a line to him.
  • If you start the engines, always remember you need to ensure that the boat’s propeller does not injure the MOB.
  • Retrieve your MOB, severely castigate him for his carelessness, and then treat with rum.

One person can do this entire maneuver. This maneuver stops the boat close to the MOB, which is good for morale and allows you to speak to them. This maneuver can be also be used for reefing, or in heavy weather, or just stopping for lunch.

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4 thoughts on “Man Overboard Recovery Maneuver”

  1. How about a woman overboard?
    But seriously, I love this technique definitely more practical than figure 8 etc.

  2. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that seafarers have to be super careful while onboard their vessel. Even with the best safety measures in the world in place, you’ll never totally avoid a man overboard situation happening.

    1. Jay, of course you are right. No dangerous situation can totally be illuminated but at least be prepared and understand what needs to be done.

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