Crewmember-overboard recovery methods are constantly improving. As a sailing instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to teach, test and evaluate crew-overboard recovery methods hundreds of times. Some methods work better than others depending on the weather and sea conditions, the kind of sailboat and the experience level of the crew.

There are several ways to get a person back on board. While they differ in their steps and approach, they all have a few things in common. The first thing that should happen is that the crew is made aware of the situation by someone hailing, “Man overboard.” Immediately after that at least one person on the boat should take over as the spotter. This person does nothing else during the recovery other than point at the crewmember in the water. Other crewmembers on the boat should immediately throw any available flotation at the victim as well as activate a Man-Overboard Module, if the boat is equipped with one, and activate the crewmember overboard button on the GPS. A calm, level-headed approach to recovery is always better than something that resembles a fire drill, and the more you practice, the better you will get.

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