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Practice MOB techniques by throwing a fender with a bucket attached into the water. Return to it, approach it, and get it aboard while being extremely careful that you keep the props away from the "victim. The best equipment may be useless unless you know how to deploy it without thinking. For example, if you have a Lifesling with tackle, on a calm day, near shore, practice putting a person in the water, rig it, and use it. Also, practice with the "victim" pretending helplessness. The "victim" should be wearing a life jacket. Practicing may teach you that the best you can do is to stabilize the victim safely alongside and call the Coast Guard for help on the VHF.

Unless you're in really cold water, it usually takes a relatively long time to become unconscious due to hypothermia.

The key is to keep the victim from drowning, getting injured, or becoming disconnected from the mother ship. As you practice, think through contingency plans for each of the three steps necessary to retrieve a person who has gone over the side: Return to the victim, approach the victim, and get the victim aboard. If a person goes over the side while the boat is underway, it's normally best to turn toward the side he went over, in order to swing the stern and props away from the victim.

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Man Overboard (band)

You should know instantly when someone goes over if you're in a smaller center console. But in a larger boat, more time may pass before you notice. To find the victim, you will need to calculate and steer a reciprocal course back to the location. The illustrations above show several methods for returning to a victim. If you need to rely on the MOB feature on your GPS to find the victim, learn where that button is, now, so you can push it while doing everything else needed at the same time.

Be sure you will understand, even under duress, what the GPS is telling you. Two effective alternatives for approaching the victim are illustrated above.

Decide on the best approach based on factors including but not limited to sea state, current, whether other boats are approaching, your boat's characteristics, and your crew's capabilities. Have those responsible for pulling the victim aboard hopefully more than just you in position and ready. In most situations, it is safest to approach the victim with your bow facing into the wind and waves.

Consider Your First Steps Before The Worst Happens

If possible, throw him a line when you get close enough. Then turn off the engine s , pull the victim in to the boat, and bring him to the ladder-hoisting area. This will minimize the chance of striking the victim with the propeller. On a smaller boat without a lot of windage, it may be safer to come to a controlled stop upwind of the MOB and drift down on him, with crew ready to reach over and grab him. This may prove challenging on a boat with a lot of windage and high freeboard, but relatively easy on a center console.

In some circumstances, it may be better to approach downwind but circle closely and come into the wind next to the victim. While it is usually safest to approach the MOB with the wind and waves over the bow, this may not be possible in a narrow channel, in large waves, near obstructions, or in other circumstances where maneuverability is limited. To prepare for these situations, practice approaching the victim with the wind and sea behind you, very slowly.

Maintain control of the boat to avoid floating over the victim. If you have a Lifesling or other retrieving line, slowly circle the victim, towing the line behind the boat until it comes within the victim's reach see illustration above. Then stop the boat and pull the victim in.

Know Your Boat's Characteristics

The very best way to get a victim back aboard is with a strong, well-built ladder. If you don't have a ladder or a Lifesling with tackle, a recovery line looped under the victim's arms see illustration may enable one or more people to pull him up over a relatively high freeboard. When trying to retrieve a victim and bring him back aboard into a center console with low freeboard, it may help to position the victim facing the boat with both arms reaching upward.

If the person aboard has the necessary strength, he should reach down and grasp the victim's wrists; the victim should grab the rescuer's wrists; and the rescuer should lift the victim straight out of the water. MOB testing has proven that if the victim is helpless and unable to assist, it will be very difficult to get him back into the boat. If you have a strong swimmer aboard, conditions are appropriate, and it's safe to do so, consider having that person wearing a life jacket go in and help the victim get to and climb up a strong ladder.

But remember that you now have two people in the water, and, potentially, two victims at risk. Calling mayday, keeping the victim next to the boat, and waiting for assistance may be a more prudent course of action. Each time you go out, make an MOB briefing part of your departure routine. Show people where life jackets are stowed. Better yet, encourage your crew to wear them.

Consider Your First Steps Before The Worst Happens

Most drownings occur quickly. If your crew are wearing life jackets when they go in the water, they'll stay alive longer and you will have a much better chance to save them. Stress the necessity that someone keep an eye on an MOB victim at all times, point out throwing devices and recovery gear, show how they work, and explain challenges such as plunging stern platforms and rolling hard chines.

On a sailboat it consists of the following steps: Change course to a beam reach and hold for 15 seconds Head into the wind and tack, leave the jib fluttering Veer off until the boat is at a broad reach Turn upwind until the vessel is pointing at the victim; at this point the vessel should be on a close reach. Slacken the mainsail until the vessel comes to a stop with the victim in the lee side of the boat Williamson turn The Williamson turn is most appropriate to be used at night or in conditions of reduced visibility, or if the point risks getting or already has gone out of sight, but is still relatively near.

Put the rudder over full. If in response to a man overboard, put the rudder toward the person e. After deviating from the original course by about 60 degrees, shift the rudder full to the opposite side. When heading about 20 degrees short of the reciprocal, put the rudder amid ships so that the vessel will turn onto the reciprocal course.

Bring the vessel upwind of the person, stop the vessel in the water with the person alongside, well forward of the propellers If dealing with a man overboard, always bring the vessel upwind of the person. Stop the vessel in the water with the person well forward of the propellers.


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Man overboard MOB fatalities are the second leading cause of death among commercial fishermen nationwide. Between and there were fatal falls overboard in the United States and none of the victims were wearing a personal flotation device PFD when they drowned. Starting October , researchers from WSD-Alaska began visiting fishing ports around Alaska to conduct a two-part research program to reduce falls overboard fatalities in commercial fishing.

How to act in MOB (Man Overboard) situation

The second part of the project was an evaluation study of six modern PFDs designed to be worn by fishermen while working. The results were published in two peer-reviewed scientific journals and as a series of fact sheets designed to help fishermen find a comfortable PFD to work in on deck. The most important step a person can take to survive a fall overboard is to wear a PFD.

The ability to float provides a victim with more time to be rescued, even in cold water. A common misconception is that MOB victims die from hypothermia , but in reality MOB victims without flotation die from cold incapacitation the loss of ability to coordinate movement needed for swimming. Wearing a PFD is the best way to make sure you buy yourself as much time as possible.