When thinking about yachting, pleasant images appear in our heads. Yachting is relaxation, adventure, escape, passion, love – it can be many things. However, no matter how amazing it may is to leisure on a luxury motor yacht, it hides its dangers. Incidents might happen while sailing, and we should consider what the procedure in such cases is to manage to solve the problem. Close to one-fourth of the fatal endings when yachting results from improper handling of a man overboard situation. If you are a crew member or an owner – captain, you must be already aware of the process. But safety is the responsibility of everyone onboard. Man overboard might be considered as an unlikely event on big stable vessels, but it is a situation you should be prepared for.
Here are five steps you as a passenger should take in case of a man overboard:
#1 Shout “Man Overboard.”
#2 Don’t jump into the water to try to save the victim.
Even if you are a good swimmer, the yacht crew will now have to save two people if they get aware that you are overboard. It all depends on the situation and the victim, though. If it is a little child, this might be the right thing to do, but before you do this, make sure you have been heard shouting “Man Overboard” and throw something floating before the jump. Put on a life jacket! Don’t panic!
#3 Throw a buoy or anything that floats.
Don’t throw too many items because they might spread around and complicate the search once the vessel is back close to the victim. The floating item will help the victim while saving him or her energy, keeping them above the water and eventually keeping them warmer if they manage to get their body on the floating item. Ideally, the man overboard will have a life jacket, but it is rare when cruising on a big luxurious yacht.
#4 Point to the man and don’t lose sight.
If there is someone close to you, ask them to point to the man in the water and not lose sight of him.
#5 Inform the Captain
If it is a superyacht, there is probably be an emergency phone on the deck where you can call the captain and let him or her know that there is a case of emergency.
If there is not such a phone, let the closest crew member know about the situation. If a crew member is not around, run to the wheelhouse and inform the captain. If a GPS MOB button is present, it should be immediately pressed. It will save the location of the man overboard.
As a passenger, these are the first steps you should take if you witness a man falling overboard. Once the crew is informed, they will start the procedure of saving the victim. They would call mayday on the VHF 16 and inform the surrounding vessels that there is a man in the water. Depending on where the man overboard is, the engines might need to be stopped immediately to avoid getting the victim into the props or creating waves pushing away the person in the water. Then the captain will start the way back to the victim. Depending on the weather, type of boat, and location of the man in the water, the vessel should approach differently. Still, captains are well trained to consider all conditions and make the best decision on how to turn the vessel to keep the body of the man overboard safe.
Once the victim is reached, it should be considered what his or her current condition is. Listen to the yacht crew; you might be of their help. They know what to do. What is most important in this case is staying calm because there is already an individual in shock. Be ready to assist and comfort the victim.