When a crew member goes over the side recovery time is of
the essence. In an effort to come up with a recovery system
that is simple and lightning quick, the US Yacht Racing
Union Safety at Sea Committee, the US Naval Academy Sailing
Squadron, the Cruising Club of America Technical Committee
and the Sailing Foundation of Seattle, Washington, joined
forces to conduct extensive research and sea trials. The
result of their collaboration is the "Quick-Stop"
method of man-overboard recovery. The hallmark of this method
is the immediate reduction of boat speed by turning in a
direction to windward and thereafter maneuvering at modest
speed, remaining near the victim. In most instances, this
is superior to the conventional procedure of reaching off,
then either gibing or tacking and returning on a reciprocal
1. Shout "man overboard" on the wind and
designate a crew member to spot and point to the victim1s
position in the water. The spotter should not take
his eyes off the victim (see Figure 1 below).
2. Provide immediate flotation. Throw buoyant objects
such as cockpit cushions, life rings and so on. These
objects may not only come to the aid of the victim,
but will "litter the water" where he went
overboard and help your spotter to keep him in view.
Deployment of the pole and flag (dan buoy) requires
too much time. The pole is saved to "put on top"
of the victim in case the initial manoeuvre is unsuccessful.
3. Bring boat head-to-wind and beyond (see Figure
4. Allow headsail to back and further slow the boat.
5. Keep turning with headsail backed until wind is
abaft the beam.
6. Head on beam-to-broad reach course for two or three
lengths then go to nearly dead downwind.
7. Drop the headsail while keeping the mainsail centered
(or nearly so). The jib sheets are not slacked, even
during the dousing manoeuvre, to keep them inside
8. Hold the downward course until victim is abaft
10. Approach the victim on a course of approximately
45 degrees to 60 degrees off the wind.
Establish contact with the victim with heaving line
or other device. The Naval Academy uses a "throwing
sock" containing 75 feet of light floating line
and a kapok bag that can be thrown into the wind because
the line is kept inside the bag and trails out as
it sails to the victim.
12. Effect recovery over the windward side.
The same procedure is used to accommodate a spinnaker.
Follow the preceding instructions. As the boat comes head-to-wind
and the pole is eased to the head stay, the spinnaker
halyard is lowered and the sail is gathered on the fore
deck. The turn is continued through the tack and the approach
Quickstop In Yawls & Ketches
Experiment with your mizzensail. During sea trials, it
was determined that the best procedure was to drop the
mizzen as soon as it is convenient to do so during the
early phases of Quick-Stop.
Quickstop Using Engine
Use of the engine is not essential, although it's advisable
to have it running in neutral, during the Quick-Stop phase,
unless it is needed in the final approach. Check first
for trailing lines!
When there are only two people sailing together and a
man-overboard accident occurs, the remaining crew member
may have difficulty in handling the recovery alone. If
the victim has sustained injuries, getting him back aboard
may be almost impossible. The Quick-Stop method is simple
to effect by a singlehander, with only one alteration
to the procedure: the addition of a specialised piece
of equipment called the "Seattle Sling", a floating
horsecollar device that doubles as a hoisting sling. The
Seattle Sling (illustrated on the following page) is attached
to the boat by a length of floating line three or four
times the boat1s length. When a crew member falls overboard
the scenario should proceed as follows:
1. A cushion or other flotation is thrown while the boat
is brought IMMEDIATELY head-to-wind, slowed and stopped
(Figure 2 above).
2. The Seattle Sling is deployed by opening the bag that
is hung on the stern pulpit and dropping the sling into
the water. It will trail out astern and draw out the remaining
3. Once deployed, the boat is sailed in a wide circle
around the victim with the line and sling trailing astern.
The jib is not tended but allowed to back from the head-to-wind
position, which increases the rate of turn.
4. Contact is established with the victim by the line
and sling being drawn inward by the boat1s circling motion.
The victim then places the sling over his head and under
5. Upon contact, the boat is put head-to-wind again, the
headsail is dropped to the deck and the main is doused.
6. As the boat drifts slowly backward, the crew begins
pulling the sling and the victim to the boat. If necessary,
a cockpit winch can be used to assist in this phase, which
should continue until the victim is alongside and pulled
up tightly until he is suspended in the sling (so that
he will not drop out).
Note: Since the hoisting rig was developed, more evidence
has emphasised the value in keeping a victim horizontal
particularly after long or hypothermic immersion. A parbuckle
or horizontal lift is highly desirable (see below).
1. With the floating tether line, haul the victim alongside,
preferably on the windward side, from amidships to the
quarter, wherever there are available cleats and winches.
2. Pull up on the tether line (with winch assistance,
if necessary) to get the victim1s head and shoulders out
of the water and cleat it. The victim is now safe.
3. Attach a three-or four-part tackle to the main halyard,
haul it up to a predetermined point, about 10 feet above
the deck or high enough so that the victim can be hoisted
up and over the lifelines. Cleat off the halyard.
4. Attach the lower end of the tackle to the loop in the
tether line that passes through the D-rings of the sling.
5. Reeve the running end of the tackle through a sheet
block or snatch block on deck and put it on a cockpit
winch. Hoist the victim aboard by winching it on the running
end of the tackle.
This is an alternative to the hoisting rig. A
patent version is known as the Tri-buckle. Another
version is rectangular, like a climbing net.
The net, or triangle of strong porous material,
is clipped to the toe rail, the triangle top or
net extremity clipped to a halyard extension.
The casualty is manoevred or dragged alongside
into the triangle or net then rolled onto the
deck by hoisting the halyard. Hypothermic aftershock
may be minimised by this method which keeps the
casualty essentially horizontal.