My wife and I were cruising along in late September, on one of those beautiful weekend days we had, when it occurred to me that we have never really drilled for an emergency afloat. This month, that's going to be my subject.
First, let's talk about your "crew". For many of us, only one person usually docks the boat or engages in challenging maneuvers, and this usually means the husband. Let's be serious: if your captain was to get hit by the legendary train (or should that be "boom" when afloat?), could you bring your vessel home safely? Now, "right now," is as good a time as any to sit down with your regular mate and play "What If".
Frankly, I thought my mate was really ready for such things, but I discovered that such was not the case, and some review was in order! We "both" needed to brush up on our emergency procedures. Just as air line pilots practice emergency techniques, so should you! A simple way to do this is to make a little deal with one another that each of you can throw a life ring overboard at any time while the other is at the helm, and declare loudly, "Practice man overboard." Then see if the other person can go through a successful recovery of the ring. If so, great! If not, start practicing so it will be better next time!
A man overboard process should include the following:
Each of these steps takes practice! You will also want to review your emergency communications procedures, to be sure that your boating buddy knows how to use your radios, including the high/low power button, changing channels, etc.
After you've done this a few times, you'll develop a really close relationship with your victim, the life ring! And if it could think, the life ring might hate you for repeated dunkings --- but consider the alternative, having your real loved one fall overboard, without your knowing what to do! It could be worse than developing a loving relationship with a life ring!
One last thought: Now that cold weather is back, take the extra precaution of wearing a life vest, float coat, or other safety garment whenever it's rough. You could need all the help you can get.
Keep safe and keep enjoying our wonderful recreation. We'll be writing again in December.
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