Crew Overboard

JohnFranco Joyce

Crew overboard, Man overboard, Crew overboard recovery

Common sense

The easiest way for a tragedy to happen is by acting reckless on a boat. The water is not often forgiving and neither is the bottom of a moving boat. The greatest cause of a crew member going overboard is by falling in off the edge of a boat in a standing position.

Engage in three points of contact with the boat.

Plant both feet and always have a handle on something. In other words, grab onto something with at least one hand. That way, if there is a sudden shift or jerk in the boat, your grip will ease your body's movement. If you are attempting to walk while on a moving boat, then use two hands to maintain your balance.

If seated, ensure your feet are on the floor of the boat. Moreover, you should still hold onto something despite the fact you are seated. Use at least one hand to grip a rail on the boat.

It is highly suggested the captain of the boat does not stand while operating the boat. Yet, it is understandable that some boats can only be operated while standing, such as a center console. The person in charge of operating the boat should ensure all passengers are properly positioned.

Utilize the kill-switch

Utilize an engine cutoff lanyard to immediately cut the engine in the case someone falls of the boat. This kill-switch will prevent someone from being struck by the propeller.

The May 5, 2013 boating tragedy in Cornwall that left two people dead and two injured prompted the Marine Accident Investigation Branch to reconsider safety protocal and it started with the kill chord. A kill chord enables the engine to be safely cut in a situation in which one goes overboard. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch proposed a few changes:

1. Test your chord and its effectiveness properly, the engine should stop.

2. Have the chord attached to the driver as it should always be attached to him when in gear.

3. If switching the driver, stop the engine before switching over kill-switch.

Crew OverboardThe plastic wire connects to the boat's dashboard and the helmsperson's lifejacket. Say a massive wave hits the boat and the helmsperson flies out of his or her seat. The plastic wire would disconnect from the dash and the propeller would cut out.

Though boats are not legally required to have a kill-switch, open boats such as RIBs and sportsboats typically have one onboard. If not, make the investment. On large inboard engine boats, a kill-switch is almost never present as the captain would typically not have to worry about falling out of the helm.

Crew overboard drills

Accidents do happen. Be as prepared as possible. Know where the life saving gear is located and how to utilize a floating cushion. Moreover, practice throwing a life ring. It is much harder than it looks. Practice and prepare for an accident! Save a life.

Come up with a line of communication with your crew. If one falls overboard, the proper protocol is to jointly scream to the captain, "man overboard." Lay down these rules and inform your passengers that boating is a team effort.