Thursday, January 31, 2008


Immersion suits are designed to save lives by protecting the user from hypothermia and drowning. Just like other specialized equipment, they require proper storage, maintenance, and handling as a damaged or torn suit may result in a reduced level of protection. Here are some tips on how to keep your suit in good working condition.
Perform regular inspections on the outer shell, inner liner, and seals of the suit. Check for rips, tears, and deterioration.
You should become familiar with the operation of the zippers, pockets and seals. The life of the user may depend on the condition of the immersion suit and the security of its attachments and equipment.
Ensure that the zippers work properly and that there is no evidence of corrosion.
Lubricate them according to the manufacturers’ recommendations.
If the suit has inflatable components (head pillow), manually blow up the pillow at least once a year to ensure that it remains inflated for at least 24 hours.
Check that suit components, such as the whistle and the rescue light, are in working condition. Always check the expiration date on the light’s battery.
Store the suit in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight and follow the manufacturers’ recommendation on folding to avoid damage to the waterproof zippers. Ensure that the suit is in an accessible area and is easy to reach in the event of an emergency. Avoid storage that subjects the suit to significant compression.

The protection provided by an immersion suit relies very much on its watertight characteristics. It is important that only qualified approved technicians, with proper equipment, or the manufacturer should make repairs. Aside from care and maintenance, having the appropriate user training and product experience will also greatly increase one’s chances of surviving an accidental cold-water immersion. Practice retrieving the suit and donning it within one minute. All an immersion suit is an integral piece of life saving equipment onboard any vessel.

Care and maintenance will extend its working life. It's important to understand that there are not “good” or “bad” immersion suit types. Each type has its relative pro’s and con’s. How important each of these would be, as positive or negative factors in deciding which one to use, will depend on a number of issues related to the user’s operational environment. Choose the right protection by considering the type of work or activity in which it will be used, the conditions of risk and danger one faces, the amount of time one has to don it, and commitment required maintain of the suit.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


The Local Notice to Mariners is a USCG publication which is issued by each district as shown in the chart above. This publication lists changes in aides to navigation, chart changes, and other information that may be of interest to mariners.
In order to keep your charts current, you can subscribe to the local notice or check the online version to see what is going on in your area.

Once you follow the link to the Local Notice to Mariners you will see the chart above. Let's say you are delivering a boat to a location, you can click on the District section that you are in. Once you have selected your District, you will see a page of information, from which you can select the publication date you wish to see. You can then download the Local Notice in PDF or Word format. (If you do not have a PDF viewer or a Word97 viewer, you can download a free copy of either from the USCG Local Notice to Mariners home page.) To download the Local Notice for a particular week or for an entire month, simply click on the Word97 or PDF link. You can then read through the Local Notice and find any changes which might affect you.

To update your chart you would have to find all notices related to your area when the chart was published. This is possible, but not very practical. If you operate in a particular area you can go to the Local Notice to Mariners page to keep your personal charts up to date.


Digital Selective Calling (DSC) Satellite and digital technology used for several years on commercial ships is now available to the recreational boater. DSC radios allow boaters to make ship-to-ship private calls and the DSC distress channel is currently being monitored by commercial ships.
Since 1996 recreational boaters were no longer required to have a ship's station license issued by the FCC in order to operate a VHF radio. The new DSC radios have to be registered to work properly in emergency situations. They are also encoded with a unique nine digit FCC identification number that allows the ship-to-ship calling feature. This number called a Maritime Mobile Service Identity or MMSI, is much like your cell phone number. Once the radio is registered with the FCC, that information and your boat's information is entered in the US Coast Guard's national distress database.

The major advantage of the DSC radio is its ability to send an automatic "mayday" that identifies the vessel and also, when connected to a LORAN or GPS, can send the vessels location. The DSC radio operates much like an EPIRB that sends encoded "maydays" directly to satellites. The DSC radio will also continue sending the emergency signal if the skipper is disabled.
Another feature of the DSC radio is the ability to place private ship-to-ship calls to other vessels equipped with DSC radio. Basically if you know the MMSI number of the radio you are calling only that vessel will receive you message. Just like using your cell phone.

Commercial ships over 300 tons are now required to monitor the DSC Radio reserved Channel 70 for distress calls, the US Coast Guard is still monitoring Channel 16. There have been recent incidences where commercial ships have picked up the "mayday" calls on Channel 70 and relayed them to the USCG.
The DSC radio is part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).



Monday, January 28, 2008


The most common method that a mariner uses to notify the Coast Guard that they are in distress is via their marine VHF-FM radio. Annex IV of the Coast Guard’s Navigation Rules publication lists many of the additional distress signals that can be used to attract attention. They include a gun fired at intervals of one minute, a continuous sounding of a fog signaling apparatus, red flares, SOS morse code, the words Mayday spoken over the radio telephone, the international call letters N.C. (November, Charlie), a visual signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or any thing resembling a ball, flames on a vessel, orange smoke, slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side, emergency positioning indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), in inland waters only a high intensity white light flashing at 50 to 70 times a minute.

The Coast Guard requires that recreational vessels carry three day and three night visual distress signals. The exceptions to this regulation are powered vessels under 16 feet and open sailing vessels under 26 feet without motors. These two exceptions are required to carry them if operated at night on coastal waters. The Coast Guard requires that the three required day night signals be Coast Guard Approved. I strongly encourage that you check the expiration date before purchasing pyrotechnics. Be careful using pyrotechnic devices. They burn with an intense heat.

If you are in the situation of being in distress do not fire off all of your flares at once and then be left with no means of signaling an approaching vessel. If no one is in sight, fire off one in an attempt to draw attention from someone beyond your line of sight over the horizon. Await a visual response of some kind such as another vessel. As the vessel approaches your vicinity fire off another signal, letting the vessel to zero in on your position. If you are a boater who observes a flare, your knowledge of information that the Coast Guard needs to respond may save a life. The first thing they need to know is your position. Latitude and longitude is best, or a magnetic bearing from your vessel. You can get this by looking over the top of your vessels compass toward the direction of the flare. You may be able to just point your vessel in that direction and read the compass.


The decision to abandon ship is usually hard to do. Here is a list and some things to keep in mind.

Put on all available waterproof clothing, including gloves, headgear, and life jacket.

Collect survival kit.

Note present position.

Send out MAYDAY message.

Launch life raft attached to ship.

Launch dinghy attached to life raft.

Try to enter life raft directly from the boat (if impossible, use minimal swimming effort to get on board).

Don't forget the EPIRB (emergency position indicator radio beacon).

Get a safe distance from the sinking vessel.

Collect all available flotsam. The most unlikely articles can be adapted for use under survival conditions.

Keep warm by huddling bodies together.

Keep dry, especially your feet.

Stream a sea anchor.

Arrange lookout watches.

Use flares only on skipper's orders when there is a real chance of them being seen.

Arrange for collecting rainwater. Ration water to maximum one-half quart per person per day, issued in small increments.

Do not drink seawater. If water is in short supply, eat only sweets from survival rations.
Emergency Communications

There are many ways to communicate your distress and seek help.

Use your VHF or single-sideband radio and follow the procedures for distress.

There are three levels of priority communications: distress, urgent, and safety, identified by MAYDAY, PAN-PAN, and SECURITE.

Panicked radio communications can confuse a rescue effort. Learn the proper procedures. Try to stay calm.

Use the distress signals found in the Navigation Rules. Flares are fast and effective, red for distress. Also it is nice to have a GRAB BAG anything you may want to take with you, safety gear, extra food, water etc.


WHIPPING LINE. Never cut a line or leave the end of a line dangling loose without a whipping to prevent it from unlaying. A line without whipping will unlay of its own accord. Whenever you cut a line or hawser whippings should be put on first, on each side of the cut. To prevent fraying, a temporary or plain whipping can be put on with any type cordage, even rope yarn.


To make a temporary whipping, you should:

Lay the end of the whipping along the line and bind it down with three or four round turns.

Lay the other end the opposite way.

Bind this end with a bight of the whipping.

Take a couple more turns.

Take the bitter of the whipping and pull it tight.

A permanent whipping, is put on to stay. One way to make a permanent whipping is with a sewing palm and needle. Sewing palms are made for both right and left handed people. The width of the permanent whipping should equal the diameter of the line. Two whippings are best. The space between the two whippings should be six times the width of the first whipping. When putting on permanent whipping, you should:

Put the needle through the middle of a strand so that it comes out between two strands on the other side.

Wind the turns toward the bitter end. (The number of turns or the width of the whipping will depend on the diameter of the line.)

Push the needle through the middle of a strand so that it comes out between two strands again.

Go up and down between strands to put a cross-seizing between each pair of strands.

Pull each cross-seizing tight before taking the next one.


Make sure the thread comes out through the middle of a strand the last time it is pushed through, so that the strand will hold the end of the twine after it is knotted and cut.


There are different handling methods for wire rope. Here are some methods.

Kinking - When loose wire rope is handled, small loops sometimes form in the slack portion of the rope. If you apply tension to the rope while these loops are in position, the loops will not straighten out but will get sharp kinks, resulting in unlaying of the rope. You need to straighten these loops out of the rope before applying a load. After a kink has formed in wire rope, it is impossible to remove it, and the strength of the rope is damaged at the point where the kink occurs.

Unreeling - When removing wire rope from a reel or coil, you should be sure to rotate the reel or coil. If the reel is mounted, the wire rope may be unwound by holding the end and walking away from the reel. If a wire rope is in a small coil, you can stand the coil on end and roll it along the deck, barge, wharf, or ground. Remove any loops that may form, although rotating the reel or coil avoids causing loops to form.

Seizing - You should seize all wire rope before cutting it. If the ends of the rope are not secured, the balance of tension is disturbed. Maximum use cannot be made on wire rope when some strands carry a greater load than others.

    Annealed wire is recommended for the seizing. You should tighten the turns of the annealed wire rope so that they do not have to tighten them when the ends are being twisted together. The ends should be twisted together at one end of the seizing so that the completed twist can be tapped into the groove between two strands where it is less likely to be knocked off.
    There are three formulas for determining the number and length of seizings and the space between them. When a calculation results in a fraction, use the next larger whole number. These formulas are based on a 3/4-inch diameter wire rope.
    The number of seizings required equals about three times the diameter of the rope. For example: 3 x 3/4 = 2 1/4 or 3 seizings. Because the rope will be cut, six seizings are required so that there will be three on each rope end after the cut.
    The length of a seizing should be equal to the diameter of the rope. For example: 1 x 3/4 = 3/4 or 1 inch. The seizings should be spaced a distance apart equal to twice the diameter. For example: 2 x 3/4 = 1 1/2 or 2 inches apart.

    Cutting - Wire rope can be cut with a wire rope cutter, a cold chisel, a hacksaw, bolt clippers, or an oxyacetylene cutting torch. To seize the wire rope, insert it into the cutter with the blade between the two central seizings, close the locking device, then close the valve on the cutter. The handle should be pumped to build up enough pressure to force the blade through the rope.

    Use bolt cutters on wire rope of small diameter. Use the oxyacetylene torch on wire of any diameter. Cutting with the hacksaw and cold chisel is slower than cutting with the other tools and equipment.

    Coiling - You may need to take a length of wire rope from a reel and coil it down before using it. Small loops or twists will form if the wire rope is coiled in a direction opposite to the lay. To avoid loops, you should coil right lay wire rope clockwise and left lay wire rope counterclockwise. When a loop forms in the wire, they should put a back turn.

"Putting a back turn in wire rope"

    Size of Sheaves and Drums - When a wire is bent over a sheave or drum, two things could happen. Each wire is bent to conform to the curvature, and the wires slide against each other lengthwise because the inside arc of the rope against the sheave or drum is shorter than the outside arc. The smaller the diameter of the sheave or drum, the greater the bending and sliding. You should keep this bending and moving of wires to a minimum to reduce wear. The minimum recommended sheave and drum diameter is 20 times the diameter of the rope. For example, for 5/8-inch rope: 20 x 5/8 = 12 1/2-inch sheave. If a 12 1/2-inch sheave is not on hand, you should use the next larger size, don't use a smaller size.

    Lubrication - Wire rope is lubricated as it is manufactured. The lubricant generally does not last throughout the life of the rope, which makes relubrication necessary. Crater "C" compound is recommended, but personnel may use oil on hand rather than delay lubrication. Crater "C" compound should be heated before it is put on the wire rope. You can use a brush if to apply lubricant. If a brush is not available, try a sponge or cloth, but look out for fishhooks or broken wires.

    Reversing Ends - It is good to reverse or cut back ends to get more service from wire rope. The wear and fatigue on a rope is more severe at certain points than at others. Reversing distributes stronger parts of the rope to the points getting wear and fatigue. To reverse ends, remove the drum end, put it in the attachment, and then fasten the end taken from the attachment to the drum. Cutting back the ends has the same effect, but not as much change is involved. In reversing ends, you should cut off short lengths of both ends to remove the sections with the greatest wear.

    Storing - Wire rope should be coiled on a spool for storage. Its grade, size, and length are on a tag attached to the rope or spool. Wire rope should be stored in a dry place to reduce corrosion. Don't store it with chemicals or where chemicals have been stored because chemicals and their fumes can attack the metal. Always clean and lubricate wire rope before storing it.

    Cleaning - You can remove most of the dirt or grit on a used wire rope by scraping or steaming. Rust should be removed at regular intervals by wire brushing. Clean your rope before lubricating to remove foreign material and old lubricant from the between the strands and from the spaces between the outer wires. This lets the lubricant to enter the rope.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Standard wire rope has six strands. Classifications group wire ropes according to weight, flexibility, and strength. The 6 x 19 classification has 6 strands and 19 wires per strand. The 6 x 37 classification has 6 strands and 37 wires in each strand. Rope of numerous small wires is more flexible, but less resistant to external abrasion. Wire rope of a smaller number of larger wires is less flexible but more resistant to abrasion. Two ropes of the same size have the same strength even though, for example, one is 6 x 19 and the other is 6 x 37.
In most wire rope the wires and strands are preformed. Preforming means presetting wires in the strands into a permanent corkscrew form which they will have in the completed rope. Preformed wire rope does not have the internal stresses found in nonpreformed wire rope, does not untwist as nonpreformed wire rope, and is more flexible.
Lay means the direction of winding of the wires in the strands and the strands in the rope. Both may be wound in the same direction or in opposite directions.
In regular lay, the strands and wires are wound in opposite directions. Most common is the right regular lay which the strands are wound right and the wires wound left. This lay is used in marine operations.
In lang lay, the strands and wires are wound in the same direction. This type of wire rope is used on the blades of bulldozers and scrapers.

MEASUREMENT. Wire rope is usually measured by its diameter. To measure wire rope correctly, you should place it in the caliper so that the outermost points of the strands will be touching the jaws of the caliper. Here are some common causes of wire rope failures.
Using rope of incorrect size, construction, or grade.
Allowing rope to drag over obstacles.
Operating over sheaves and drums of inadequate size.
Overwinding or crosswinding on drums.
Operating over sheaves and drums that are out of alignment.
Permitting rope to jump sheaves.
Subjecting rope to moisture or acid fumes.
Permitting rope to untwist.
Using kinked rope.
You should inspect weak points and points of stress. Worn or weak spots show up as shiny, flat spots on the wires. If the outer wires have been reduced in diameter by one-half, the wire rope is unsafe.
Inspect broken wires, since they show where the greatest stress occurs. If individual wires are broken next to each other, unequal load distribution at this point will make the rope unsafe. Broken wires are called fishhooks. To determine the extent of damage to the wire rope, you can slide a finger along one strand of wire for one complete turn, equal to the length of one wire rope lay. Next, count the number of fishhooks. If six or more fishhooks are found, the wire rope is unsafe and should be replaced.


GPIRBs (Global Position Indicating Radio Beacon) combine the latest in GPS and 406MHz EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon)to your emergency distress signal. If you go offshore or in the Great Lakes, this is one of the best "life insurance" policy you could own.
The GPIRB, has a built in GPS, that broadcasts its own location. This shortens the time required to get an accurate fix on the beacon location and saving time at the beginning of an SAR (Search And Rescue) operation.

GPIRBs have a float-free bracket that releases it if it is submersed as in a sinking. There is a manual mode to turn the unit on manually and a test mode which should be used on a frequent basis to test the operation. It has a minimum 48 hours operating life, 8-channel internal GPS and comes with a lithium battery.

The position of a 406 MHz EPIRB is determined by calculations using the Doppler shift in the beacon's distress signal which occurs as satellites approach and recede in overhead orbits. The accuracy of the calculations is determined by the number of signal bursts received by the satellites. Accuracy is enhanced when a satellite passes directly overhead, because the satellite receives the greatest number of signal bursts. The only real problem with the system is that it takes time for an accurate fix to be acquired.

The GPIRB determines its own position. When activated, its internal GPS finds its own position, just like an onboard GPS. Having located itself, it broadcasts its identity and position on 406MHz. It will then shut down for 20 minutes to conserve power, and repeat the process of locating itself and rebroadcasting. It will continue to update its position every 20 minutes as long as it is active. The advantage of a GPIRB is that an accurate fix is almost instant. Its frequent update allows rescuers to compute drift accurately, and direct SAR teams directly to you, which is difficult to do with the time delays of an EPIRB.

Friday, January 25, 2008


You must have at least one, U.S. Coast Guard approved, wearable PFD for each person onboard, and it must be the appropriate size. If your boat is 16 feet or longer you must also have one throwable device (Type IV PFD). Check your states regulations.

PFDs are categorized by Type, Type I, II, III, IV or V. Types I, II and III are worn by recreational boaters, while Type IVs are throwable devices such as life rings and buoyant cushions. Type Vs are for special uses.
When considering a Type I II or III - remember that the lower the number the better the performance. ( Type I is better than a Type II.)
Types I II or III may be buoyant, they will float without action by the wearer, or they may be inflatable (oral and manual inflation at a minimum), or a combination of both. Select a PFD based on your activities and the water conditions.

TEST - Put your life jacket on. It should fit properly with all zippers, straps, ties and snaps secured.
If you have a inflatable PFD and you want to test it remove the CO2 cylinder (and if the PFD has an automatic feature, remove the water-sensing element). Put your life jacket on and inflate it. Then test it like an inherently buoyant PFD.
Because of the design, ride-up is not an issue with inflatable PFDs. The amount of buoyancy provided with inflatable PFDs makes it hard to swim on your stomach when the PFD is properly secured. Its best to side stroke or back stroke.

Don't use it as a knee pad or fender, it can lose buoyancy when crushed.
Don't let your PFD lie out in the sun when the boat is not in use. Sunlight weakens some synthetic fabrics.
Let your PFD drip dry before putting it away.
If your PFD has been in salt water, rinse it with fresh water.
Stow your PFD in a well ventilated place.
Check your PFD for rips, tears, and holes and make sure seams, straps and hardware are okay.
Do make sure there is no sign of water-logging, mildew odor, or shrinkage of the buoyant materials.
Check and replace spent cartridges in inflatable PFDs.
Put your name on your PFD if you are the only wearer. It will keep you from putting on one that is not sized for you.
Test all your PFDs at the start of the boating season.
Discard old PFDs by cutting them up and properly disposing of them.

If your PFD has a zipper use some lubrication.
If your PFD has kapok squeeze them and listen for air, sometimes they get pin holes in the kapok.


Every through-hull fitting in your boat is a potential hole that could sink you in a matter of minutes. Most of these are out of sight, out of mind, difficult to get at, through-hulls need checking, at minimum every three months. Many through-hulls like engine-cooling intakes and sink or cockpit drains, tend to be left open continuously and the valves may stick in the open position. You should operate the valve by turning it on and off to make sure that when an attached hose fails you can stop the water flow.
As a precaution you should get wooden plugs (tapered soft wooden plugs) for each through-hull in your boat. (You can get them at Marine Supply stores.) Make sure that they are the proper diameter to fit in the through-hull. Once you get them back to your boat, don’t just throw them in a drawer. Take each appropriate size to the through-hull it fits, drill a hole in the larger end and thread a line through and tie it to the through-hull fitting. When the inevitable happens you won’t have to go looking for the plug. Just reach down, put the tapered end in the hole, and press down until tight and the leak has stopped.
Remember, a two inch hole just a few feet below the waterline can sink a boat in a few minutes.

Just a quick word about bilge pumps, it is important to test your bilge pumps by switching from the automatic to manual position on the bilge pump switch. This doesn't guarantee that the pump will work when unattended. You should also check the automatic float switch by manually raising it to make sure that it turns on the pump.
Check for debris or corrosion that might keep it from floating up properly. If this switch fails the pump won't turn on and your boat could take on sufficient water over time to do serious damage. Also check the wiring to the pump for corrosion.


When reeving tackles reeve each type differently. If a tackle is rove improperly, too much friction and possible binding of the falls can result when lifting or lowering a load, creating a safety hazard. It is important to use the proper method of reeving each type of tackle up to and including a threefold purchase.

In reeving triple blocks, you should put hoisting strain at the center of the blocks to prevent them from inclining under the strain. If the blocks do incline, the rope will drag across the edges of the sheaves and the shell of the block and cut the fibers.

Single whip tackle offers no mechanical advantage and runner tackle has a 2 to 1 mechanical advantage.

GUN TACKLE - Place two single-sheave blocks about 3 feet apart with the hooks or straps facing outboard and both blocks in the same position, either on their face or cheek. Next, they should run the line through the first and second block, then splice it to the becket of the first block. Gun tackle has a 2 to 1 mechanical advantage.

LUFF TACKLE - Position one single- and one double-sheave block the same as the gun tackle. Run the line through one of the sheaves of the double-sheave block first and then to the sheave of the single-sheave block. Next, run the line through the other sheave of the double-sheave block and splice the line to the becket of the single-sheave block. This tackle offers a 3 to 1 mechanical advantage.

TWOFOLD PURCHASE - Position two double-sheave blocks in the same manner as with the luff tackle. Reeve the line through the top or bottom block, stay in sequence, and never cross from one side to the other. After reeving the tackle, splice the standing line to the becket. Twofold tackle has a 4 to 1 mechanical advantage.

DOUBLE LUFF TACKLE - Obtain a double- and a triple-sheave block. Place the blocks 3 feet apart with the hooks or straps facing outboard and position the blocks so that one is face down and the other cheek down. When reeving a tackle that has one block with more sheaves than the other, always start with the block with the most sheaves. In this case, start reeving through the center sheave, keeping the line parallel. Never cross from one side to the other. Double luff tackle has a 5 to 1 mechanical advantage.

THREEFOLD PURCHASE - Place two triple-sheave blocks 3 feet apart, with the hooks or straps facing outboard, positioning the blocks so one is face down and the other is cheek down. Start reeving in the center sheave of one block and finish in the center sheave on the other. Then splice the standing part to the becket. This tackle offers a 6 to 1 mechanical advantage.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


A block with a line led over the sheave makes applying power by changing the direction of the pull easier. Used with line and another block, it becomes a tackle and increases the power applied on the hauling part. Tackles are designated according to their uses and the number of sheaves in the blocks that are used to make the tackle. The various types of tackle are rove with different size blocks and all have a limited lifting capacity depending on the number of sheaves, the size blocks and the size line used. The tackles are named for their use or from their makeup.
A single whip tackle consists of a single fixed block with a line passed over its sheave. This tackle has no mechanical advantage.
The gun tackle, named for its use on old sailing ships to haul the cannons back to their gun port after firing, consists of one single-sheave fixed block and one single-sheave movable block.
The luff tackle is made up of one double-sheaved block and one single-sheaved block.
The twofold purchase is made up of two double-sheaved blocks.
The double luff tackle is made up of one double-sheaved block and one triple-sheaved block.
The threefold purchase is made up of two three-sheaved blocks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


There are several different types of blocks, each with a different use. Wooden and metal blocks are of the

same design except for the head or heel block which is only metal.

The single-sheave block has only one sheave and may or may not have a hook or becket.

The multiple-sheave block contains two or more sheaves. It may or may not have a hook or becket.

A fixed-hook block is a single or multiple sheave block with a stationary hook attached to the top of the strap.

A swivel-hook block is a single or multiple sheave block with a swivel hook that allows the lock to move in the direction of the load.

The snatch block has a hinged cheek on one side and differs from all other blocks. The advantage of a snatch block over the other types is that it can be opened and a bight of line placed over the sheave without passing the end of the line through the swallow. The snatch block also has a swivel hook. The function of the snatch block is to change the direction of the load or pull.

The head or heel block has a cast metal shell, roller bearings, and a grease fitting in the sheave pin. The cargo runner can pass over these blocks at the head and heel of the cargo boom. These high-speed blocks must be lubricated every time they are used.

Blocks are named for the purpose for which they are used, the places they occupy, or from a particular shape or type of construction. According to the number of sheaves, blocks are designated as single, double, or triple. A traveling block is attached to the load being lifted and moves as lifting occurs. A standing block is fixed to a stationary object.

    Every tackle system contains a fixed block attached to some solid support and may have a traveling block attached to the load. The single rope leaving the tackle system is called the fall line. Personnel apply the pulling force to the fall line which may be led through a leading block.

    SIZE OF BLOCKS - Users can determine the size of blocks by measuring the length of the cheek in inches. Blocks are designed for use with a specific line size. Bending line over a sheave that is too small causes distortion and strain, with the line wearing on the shell. You can use line smaller than that designated for a sheave with no damage, but should don't use line of a larger size.

    To determine the size wooden block to use with line of a known size, you can use these formulas:

    3 x circumference of line = shell size, 2 x circumference of line = sheave size


A wooden block, consists of one or more sheaves (pulleys). Each block has one or more steel straps which strengthen the block and support the sheave pin. Personnel may suspend the block or apply a load by means of a hook or shackle inserted in the top of the strap. The strap may continue through the block and form a projection, called the becket, to attach another line. The becket usually has a thimble to prevent chafing of the line. The front of the block is called its face and the sides of the shell are called cheeks. The opening between the top of the sheave and the block where the line is passed through the block is called the swallow. The breech is the opening between the bottom of the sheave and the block and serves no definite purpose. Line is never passed through the breech of a block except for a small tail line used to keep the block from bouncing on the deck. The entire wooden portion of a block is called the shell, it protects the sheave and line.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


The Spanish bowline can be used wherever it is desirable to have two eyes in the line. Its primary use, is a substitute for the boatswain's chair. Many prefer it to the French bowline because the bights are set and will not slip back and forth when the weight is shifted.
To tie this knot, take a bight and bend it back away from you, forming two bights. Then lap one bight over the other. Next, grab the two bights where they cross, and fold this part down toward you, forming four bights. Next, pass the bight on your lower left through the upper bight on your left. Next pass the bight on your lower right through the upper bight on your right.
Adjust and pull tight, this will take some practice until you get the size of your bights the desired size.



Monday, January 21, 2008


Wooden boats have FRAMES (called RIBS) they are set into the keel at a right angle, and covered with planking. Each line of planking along the hull from bow to stern is called a STRAKE. The lowest strake, next to the keel, is the GARBOARD STRAKE. The GUNWALE is the upper part of the SHEER STRAKE.
When the topsides are above the level of the deck, they are called BULWARKS, and at the top of the bulwarks is the RAIL. There are TOE RAILS, narrow strips placed on top of the gunwale to finish it off and provide safety for per­sonnel on deck.

A heavier strake in the topsides extending beyond the exposed face of the planking is termed a RUBBING STRAKE and is intended to protect the topsides from the rough­ness of piles, piers. A strip of wood for the same purpose added externally to the planking is generally called a RUB RAIL.

A BREAST HOOK is a triangular reinforcing member, usu­ally of wood, placed horizontally behind the stem of a boat to strengthen the bow. When another timber is fastened along the top of the keel to strengthen, it is called a KEELSON. On some boats an extra piece is fastened externally to the bottom of the keel to protect it.

If a deck is arched to aid in draining off water, it is CAMBERED. Camber occurs on the tops of cabins, deckhouses. The deck over the forward part of a vessel, or the forward part of the total deck area, is termed a FOREDECK. The AFTERDECK is located in the after part of the vessel. The deck of a cockpit or in­terior cabin is called the SOLE.

LIMBER HOLES are passages cut into the lower edges of floors and frames next to the keel to allow bilge water to flow to the lowest point of the hull, where it can be pumped out. These limber holes must be kept clean so that drain­age can occur, on some vessels a LIMBER CHAIN is run through these holes so that it can be pulled back and forth to clean them out.

SEA COCKS are valves installed just inside THROUGH-HULL FITTINGS where water is taken in for engine cooling, oper­ation of heads, etc. they are important safety devices.
The BOOT TOP is the portion of the exterior hull at the waterline. It is usually finished with special paint called BOOT­TOPPING.

Areas that are varnished are called BRIGHTWORK. Polishing brass maybe called the same.

LIFELINES are used on larger vessel's at the edges of the side decks to prevent people from falling overboard. These lines are of wire rope, with plastic-covered, supported above the deck on STANCHIONS. If they are made of solid material wood or metal they are called LIFERAILS.

A PULPIT is an extension, usually a heavy plank with rails extending from the stem, beyond the bow. Bow rails on sailboats are called pulpits, they extend forward of the stem.





Sunday, January 20, 2008




Parallel rulers are used to plot direction on your nautical chart. They are two straight-edges hinged so that they maintain the same angle. By alternating the moving edge, and holding down the non-moving edge, you can move the rulers around the chart while still keeping the same angle.

To determine the direction between two positions or points on a chart, line up the rulers with the two points and then step the rulers to the nearest compass rose.

Now the edge of the ruler should be in the center of the compass rose, you can read the direction. Make sure you read the direction on the side of the compass rose that you intended to travel. Say you want to travel from the Southwest to the Northeast set your course to 045° True. To travel from the northeast to the southwest, you would set your course to 225° True.

To plot a course line from your present position, start at the compass rose. Line up one edge of the rule on the cross in the center of the compass rose, with that same edge projecting through the direction of your intended travel. Walk the rulers to your present position and draw the course line. This is how to plot a course of 225° True.
Draw a line along the ruler, southward from your present position, to indicate a course line of 225° True. If you were to draw a line northward along the ruler from your present position, you would plot a course of 45° True, the reciprocal (opposite) direction of your intended course.

Friday, January 18, 2008


STEP 1 Using GMT, and Greenwich date of observation, enter Nautical Almanac and record tabulated hourly value of GHA ^

STEP 2 Turn to the yellow pages of the Nautical Almanac, and find the "22 minute page," enter with "28-seconds."

Then under the "ARIES" column find the increase in the GHA ^ since the last tabulated (hourly) value, hence 5° 37.9'.

This is your minutes and seconds (M&S) correction and enter this in your format.

STEP 3 Add the GHA and M&S to get the GHA^

STEP 4 Bring down your DR longitude and enter it in your form, the rule is:



So we add our DR longitude to get the LHA ^

STEP 5 To use the star finder, select the blue template nearest your DR latitude, hence 25° S and place it on the South side of the white star finder. You should have the South side of the blue template matched up with the South side of the white star finder.

Remember to ensure that the proper side of the template is up, hence, north to north south to south.

STEP 6 Rotate the blue template until the 0° to 180° arrow on the template is over the LHA ^ of 52° on the base plate.

The stars or planets that are available to you at that time, will be under the grid system of your blue template.

STEP 7 Locate the bearing of 029° T on the inner edge of the grid.

STEP 8 Using the Ho as the approximate altitude 30° go up to the bearing of 029° to altitude 30° and you will find the unknown star "ELNATH".

After identifying the star, you would have to work out the sight by starting over again on the form.

This problem goes with the "UNKNOWN STAR FORMAT".



Thursday, January 17, 2008


An error, known as the index error, is introduced if there is a small lack of parallelism of the horizon glass. Index correction is resolved by the following procedure.
Set the sextant near zero. Hold the sextant vertically and sight toward the horizon. Use the micrometer drum to bring the direct and reflected horizon exactly in line. If the sextant reading is zero, there is no error. If the reading is not zero, the amount of error is the index correction. If the index mark is to the left of the zero on the arc of the limb, then the reading is too large, and this index correction must be subtracted from the sextant altitude. If the index mark is to the right of zero (off the arc), the reading is too low, and this amount must be added to the sextant altitude.

If it's on (the arc), it's off; if it's off (the arc), it's on. The amount of index correction is ob­tained as follows: If the index mark is on the arc, the sextant is read in the usual way. The reading is the index cor­rection to be subtracted. Always read the mark that is on the arc of the limb to the right of the index mark.


Anne Bonny (1698 - April 25, 1782) was an Irish pirate who plied her trade in the Caribbean. Anne Bonny, born in County Cork, Ireland, was a daughter of attorney William Cormac and his maidservant. Her mother was named either Mary or Peg Brennan. When the affair became public, Cormac, with his new wife and newborn child, left Ireland for Charleston, South Carolina, where he made a fortune and bought a large plantation.

The few records of Bonny which exist seem to reflect that she was intelligent, attractive, and quick-tempered. When she was 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl in the stomach with a table knife, although it is unclear whether this is fact or legend. At 16, she married a sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James Bonny hoped to win possession of his wife's family estate, but she was disowned by her father.

According to legend, Anne Bonny started a fire on the plantation in retaliation. James Bonny then took his new bride to New Providence (modern-day Nassau), Bahamas, a pirate hub and base for many pirate operations, where he became an informant for Governor Woodes Rogers.
While in the Bahamas, Anne Bonny began mingling with pirates at the local drinking establishments, and met the pirate
John "Calico Jack" Rackham, with whom she shortly thereafter had an affair. Rackham offered to buy her from her husband in a divorce-by-purchase, but James Bonny refused. He complained to the governor, who brought her before the court, naked, and sentenced her to be flogged and to return to her legal husband. Anne Bonny and Rackham instead eloped.

Life as a pirate
She disguised herself as a man in order to join Rackham's crew aboard the Revenge.
Over the next several years, she and Rackham saw quite a few successes as pirates, capturing many ships, and bringing in an abundance of treasure. According to legend, she stabbed a fellow pirate through the heart when he discovered her gender.

Meeting Mary Read
Bonny was not to be the only female pirate on Rackham's ship. A woman by the name of
Mary Read also disguised herself as a man to join the crew, after her ship was taken during a raid. Bonny and Read became close companions to one another because both were pregnant. They met when Bonny walked in on Read undressing one day, and she discovered her secret. The two women agreed to keep this from everyone, and Bonny swore not to reveal that Read was really a woman. Read's true identity would not remain secret for long. Rackham became suspicious of Bonny's close relationship with the new sailor, and demanded an explanation. When Read confessed that she was actually a woman, Rackham allowed her to stay on as a member of his crew, eventually revealing her secret to the other crew members.

Capture and imprisonment
October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet, who was working for the governor of Jamaica. Most of Rackham's pirates did not put up much resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight. Read and Bonny, who were sober, fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet's troops for a short time. After their capture, Rackham and his crew were sentenced by the Governor of Jamaica to be hanged. Jack hid while the pregnant (and recently proved) ladies dealt with a great number of captors. Bonny is reported to have chastised the imprisoned Rackham (who wanted to see her one last time) by saying, "I am sorry to see you here Jack, but if you had fought like a man, you need not be hanged like a dog."
After their arrest and trial, Read and Bonny both
pleaded their bellies, announcing during the sentencing phase that they were both pregnant. In accordance with English common law, both women received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth. Mary Read died in prison most likely from a fever.

Disappearance from the record
There is no historical record of Bonny's release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father
ransomed her, that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity. Evidence provided by the descendants of Anne Bonny suggests that her father managed to secure her release from and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackam's second child. On 21 December 1721 she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had eight children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty-four and was buried on 25 April 1782.



Wednesday, January 16, 2008


The single bowline on a bight comes in handy whenever you need an eye in the center of a line. It can be tied quickly, doesn't jam tight, and you don't need an end of the line to tie it. To get your securing lines taut, a single bowline on a bight is a good knot to use for securing equipment or cargo.

Tie the knot well up on the standing part, run the bitter end around a stanchion or through I pad eye and back through the eye of the knot. Heave back on the bitter end in a line between the knot and stanchion or padeye. This gives the same effect as having a block on the line at the knot and, discounting friction, doubles your pull. Heave it taut and secure the end.



Tuesday, January 15, 2008


On February 4, 1999, the New Carissa was bound for the Port of Coos Bay to pick up a load of wood chips. The ship's crew was informed by the local bar pilots that weather conditions would prevent the ship (which was empty at the time) from entering Coos Bay harbor until the next morning. The captain ordered the ship to drop anchor 1.7 nautical miles (3.1 km) off the coast in order to ride out the storm. The crew used a single anchor to secure the ship, and according to a United States Coast Guard review of the incident, used a chain that was too short. The short chain and the weather conditions, including winds of 20–25 knots, caused the ship to drag its anchor. Poor navigational techniques and inadequate watchkeeping led to the crew's failure to notice that the ship was moving. Once movement was detected, the crew attempted to raise anchor and maneuver away from the shore, but the weather and sea conditions made this difficult. By the time the anchor was raised, the ship had been pushed too close to the shore to recover.
The ship ran aground on the beach 2.7 statute miles (4.5 km) north of the entrance to Coos Bay, and attempts to refloat it failed. Two of the five fuel tanks on the ship began to leak fuel onto the beach, eventually spilling approximately 70,000 U.S. gallons (262,500 liters) of thick "bunker C" fuel oil and diesel onto the beach and into the water.

Neither the captain nor any of the 22-man crew was injured in the incident. Initial rescue operations were hampered by inclement weather. Attempts to move the New Carissa under her own power failed, and tugboat assistance was not available immediately after the grounding. Only one tugboat was available locally, but it was unable to cross the Coos Bay bar because of safety concerns. It was also uncertain whether or not the locally available tugboat could have successfully rescued the New Carissa. The nearest salvage tugboat capable of towing a large ship off a beach, the Salvage Chief, was moored at its home port of Astoria, Oregon, 200 miles (320 km) to the north, a 24-hour journey away. The Salvage Chief had not sailed in over a year, and it took 18 hours to fuel, provision, and find a crew for the ship. Once mobilized, poor weather in the Astoria area prevented the tugboat from crossing the treacherous Columbia River bar for an additional two days. The Salvage Chief did not arrive in the area until February 8, four days after the grounding occurred.

On March 2, salvors managed to float the 440–foot (132 m) bow section and tow it out to sea for disposal. The vessel with the bow section under tow encountered another storm 40 miles (65 km) off the coast, and the tow line broke. The bow section floated for fourteen hours until it ran aground near Waldport, Oregon, approximately 80 miles (130 km) to the north of the original grounding site. One week later, on March 9, the bow was again refloated and successfully towed by the tugboat Sea Victory 248 miles (400 km) off the coast, where the Pacific is approximately 10,000 feet (3,000 m) deep. It was sunk at that location by two US Navy ships, the destroyer USS David R. Ray and the submarine USS Bremerton.


For most people in the United States you have a chance at seeing Mercury by the middle of the month around dusk. Look in the southwestern sky, right near the horizon just after the sun sets. Mercury is at about magnitude -0.9 and will get brighter by the Jan. 22 when it will reach its greatest eastern elongation (angle between the sun and Mercury when it is visible after sunset), and a magnitude of -0.5. Sometimes you can see Mercury before the sun rises, this is when it is at its greatest western elongation. Mercury will reach its greatest eastern elongation on May 14th.
For all of you astronomy people there are some new toys out. They are called mySKY by Meade and the SkyScout Personal Planetarium by Celestron. Both are about the same thing they show you what you are looking at in the sky and teach you about them. They are basically GPS instruments that you can use to locate sky objects. All you do is point the instrument at the area of the sky you are interested in, and you not only know what star you are looking at but also the constellation.


The first step in making a boat fender is to lay up a core, with or without two eyes, as desired. Sisal or hemp around 2 1/2 inches in circumference is about right for the core of a medium-sized fender.

Lay the line in bights and seize together. Next, unlay an old piece of 6 or 8 inch mooring line and cut off 3 or 4 lengths of the strands 10 times as long as your fender is to be. If you don't have any old mooring line that you can unlay, use some old 21-thread, or houseline, roundline, or ratline. (The size of the core determines the number of strands necessary. Pull the strands through the eye and even up the ends. Put a temporary whipping on both ends to keep them from coming unraveled while working. Next, start tying wall knots. The first row of knots should be completed and drawn tight.

After completing the last row of wall knots, divide your strands into pairs and tie a crown knot. Complete the fender by working the ends of the strands back up under the wall knots and cutting off flush.





Monday, January 14, 2008


Start the five-strand Turk's head with two round turns. Place the end over the second turn and under the first. Lay the working end over the turn nearest your wrist and bring it around to the palm side of your hand. Pass it under the turn under your thumb and over the other turn. Turn your hand over. Cross the turn nearest your fingertips and tuck your line under the next part. Turn your hand back. You are now ready to start your last turn. Start this by going over the line that lies across the standing part. The rest is under and over, all the way around.

Learning to add extra strands to a Turk's head (that is, to make a six-strand Turk's head from a four-strand, or a seven-strand from a five-strand) is not too difficult, but it is alot easier for you if someone shows you how. The key to this is simple, once you get the hang of it.


Turk's heads are usually thought of as strictly ornamental work, but they serve many useful purposes, such as keeping the leathers on lifelines and the looms of oars in position.
The three-strand Turk's head is simple and easy to tie. By adding extra diamonds, as I will explained, you can make one long enough to go around your ship if you want to.

Start with two round turns around your hand, and pass the end over the second turn and under the first turn. Next, turn your hand so that you can see the back of it. Pull a bight of the first turn under the second turn. Pass the end through this bight, over the second turn, and under the first turn. Now turn your hand back, with the palm toward you, and lead the bitter end up alongside the standing part. This completes the first lay of the three-strand Turk's head. Follow around for two more lays, then work out the slack.

To make a good tool for tightening a Turk head, cut the handle off a toothbrush and sharpen it to a flat, square-pointed end. Spend few minutes making this pricker, and later it will save hours while tying Turk's heads because you can also use it as a needle when passing the second and third lays. To add extra diamonds to a three-strand Turk's head, complete the Turk's head just described. You'll need a little slack so, if necessary, work some into the Turk's head. Next, pull a bight under. Then pass the bitter end under, over, etc. If you want still more diamonds, repeat the steps until your Turk's head is long enough for your purpose.





Sunday, January 13, 2008


The monkey fist is a type of knot, so named because it looks somewhat like a small bunched fist/paw. It is tied at the end of a rope to serve as a weight, making it easier to throw the line, and also as an ornamental knot. The monkey's fist knot is most often used as the weight in a heaving line. The line would have the monkey's fist on one end, an eye splice or bowline on the other, with about 30 feet (~10 meters) of line between. A light-weight line would be tied to the bowline, then the weighted monkey's fist could be hurled between ship and dock (or vice versa). The other end of the light-weight line would be attached to a heaver-weight line. The knot is usually tied around a small weight. Monkey's Fists were also commonly used as melee weapons by sailors embroiled in street and tavern fights during the 1800s.
Monkey's fist step by step
Start by wrapping the rope around four of your fingers.
Once there are three wraps, remove your fingers and wrap it three times around the three lengths where your middle and ring finger were.
Then make three more turns by passing the end of the rope inside the first set of turns but outside the second set.
Finally, insert the weight and tighten the rope.



Saturday, January 12, 2008


Back splice (also called an end splice) - A splice where the strands of the end of the rope are spliced directly back into the end without forming a loop. It is used to finish off the end of the rope to keep it from fraying. The end of the rope with the splice is about twice the thickness of the rest of the rope. With nylon and other plastic materials, the back splice is often no longer used, the rope strands are simply fused together with heat to prevent fraying.
Cut splice - A splice similar to the eye splice. It is typically used for light lines (the log-line) where a single splice would tend to come undone, the rope being frequently wet. It makes a very strong knot. A cut splice is a join between two ropes, made by splicing the ends slightly apart, to make an eye in the joined rope which lies shut when the rope is taut.

Eye splice - A splice where the working end is spliced into the working part forming a loop.
Long splice - A splice used to join two rope ends forming one rope the length of the total of the two ropes. The long splice, unlike most splice types, results in a splice that is only very slightly thicker than the rope without the splice, but sacrifices some of the strength of the short splice. It does this by replacing two of the strands of each rope end with those from the other, and cutting off some of the extra strands that result. The long splice allows the spliced rope to still fit through the same pulleys, which is necessary in some applications.
short splice - Also a splice used to join the ends of two ropes, but the short splice is more similar to the technique used in other splices and results in the spliced part being about twice as thick as the non spliced part, and has greater strength than the long splice. The short splice retains more of the rope strength than any knots that join rope ends.
side splice
Splices are often tapered to make the thicker splice blend into the rest of the line. There are two main types of tapering, the standard and the so-called "West Coast Taper".
Standard tapers progressively remove a portion of each remaining strand one-third at a time is typical, resulting in a taper of two additional tucks beyond the splice making each successive tuck produce a narrower splice. This is only practical with laid-lines, made up of numerous strands laid side by side.
West Coast tapers are effected by extra-tucks of entire strands, such that the 2nd strand is interweaved one more time than the first and the third is interweaved an additional time after the 2nd.
fid is a hand tool made from wood or bone and is used in the process of working with rope. It is conical instrument with a somewhat long taper. A variety of fid diameters are used depending on the size of rope it is being used with.
Marlinspike is a tool, commonly part of a sailor's pocketknife, used to separate strands of rope from one another. It is basically a 3"- 4" steel spike, slightly curved, with a non-sharp point that tapers quickly out to a 1/4" to 3/8" shaft in the space of the first 1" length.


The term Jacob's ladder, used on a ship, applies to two kinds of ladders.
The first is a flexible hanging ladder which can be lowered down the side of a large ship. It consists of vertical ropes or chains supporting horizontal wooden or metal rungs, and is used to allow people to board the ship from small boats. Because the decks of most commercial ships are far above the waterline, pilots and others who need to come aboard at sea can only do so if a Jacob's ladder is put out. When not being used, the ladder is stowed away (usually rolled up) rather than left hanging.

The second kind of Jacob's ladder is found on some square rigged ships. To climb above the lower mast to the topmast and above, sailors must get round the top, a platform projecting from the mast. Although on many ships the only way round was the overhanging futtock shrouds, modern-day tall ships have a vertical ladder from the ratlines.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


A boatswain's call or boatswain's pipe (or bosun's whistle) is a pipe that is made of a tube (called the gun), that directs air over a grape-sized metal sphere (called the buoy) with a hole cut in the top. The Bos'n opens and closes the hand over the hole to change the pitch.
The history of the boatswain's call was as a signaling device on a ship. Because of its high pitch, it could be heard over the activities of the crew and bad weather. It is now used in the traditional color, sunset and other ceremonies of several navies, sometimes combined with other auditive features: ruffles and flourishes, or even a gun salute.

Haul: The most basic of calls, crews of warships were not allowed to sing work songs or shanties so the pipe coordinated the sailors. The low note was for the pause and preparatory, the high for pulling on the line.

The Side: Or Away Galley, descends from the tradition of hoisting officers aboard ship in a chair. The higher the rank, the more men an officer received. It is a combination of Haul, and then a command to lower. This call remains in use as a honor given to officers when embarking or disembarking.

Away Boats: Would be used to order ship's boats to leave the ship's side.

Call the Boatswain's Mates: The boatswains gang to report.

All Hands on Deck: Crews were split into two watches that stood four hours on and four hours off duty. This is the call that would be used to signal the entire crew to assemble on deck.

Word to be Passed: Command for silence, an order to follow.

Pipe Down: Dismissal of all the crew not on watch.

Sweep Down Fore and Aft: Clean up ship before liberity.

Dinner or Supper: Called the crew to this meal.


When you first discover that someone has fallen overboard, the most important thing to remember is DON'T PANIC! If the person is on a lifeline, stop the boat immediately and then recover them using the lifeline/harness as necessary. If you are well prepared and have practiced the drill regularly, you will automatically know how to react.
Immediately throw a lifebuoy and attachment overboard. Raise the alarm by shouting: " MAN OVERBOARD" (Even if you are the only one left aboard, shouting "man overboard" may provide reasurance to the person in the water).

Getting the person aboard can be difficult. If you have a platform or boarding ladder and the person in the water is able to help themselves, use it if it is safe to do so. If they are unconscious or exhausted, a form of lifting gear will need to be improvised. A short strap used in conjunction with a block and tackle rigged on the end of a halyard (sailing vessel) or attached to a suitable strong securing point on the wheel house (powerboat) would make it easier for a heavy casualty to be brought on board. A parbuckle can be improvised by using ropes, nets or a small sail, and then rolling the person out of the water. A dinghy provides another option for recovery, perhaps by partially deflating one section of the sponson tube to make it easier to get them on board. Prevention is better than cure. Ensure that all the actions and safety precautions to prevent a person overboard have been taken and practice drills regularly in all weathers and sea conditions - You could save someone's life.

If there are others on board, instruct a crew member to watch the person in the water and point continuously. Start your recovery manoeuvre. You may have to lower your sails and start you engine - beware of loose sheets fouling the propeller. If possible note your position - most GPS have a MOB. function - it may prove vital if contact is lost with the person in the water.

REMEMBER the MOB function records where the person fell overboard, he/she will drift away with the tide or current. If you are the only person remaining on board, do not leave the deck as you may become disorientated and loose sight of the person in the water. During the hours of darkness, a white parachute flare, which will pick up the retro reflective tape on clothing/lifejacket, can be used to illuminate area. If you cannot see the person in the water, or have any doubt about your ability to recover him/her, send a mayday call on your VHF radio.


Guardrails should be continuous around the upper deck. The ends should be secured with lashings or quick release slips so that you can cut or release them to recover a person from the water. Treat any slippery areas with either non-skid paint or stick on strips. Pay particular attention to the tops of hatches and sloping coachroof sides which become walkways when the boat is heeled. Use harness in rough weather and at night. Make sure they are adjusted to a tight fit or you can fall out of them. Fit suitably placed harness attachment points close to the companionway so that you can clip on before coming on deck and on both sides of the cockpit. Rig jackstays on both sides of the boat so that you can walk the full length of the deck without having to unclip. Flat webbing straps are in some ways better than wire because the wire tends to roll underfoot when you stand on it. Wear suitable protective clothing and a lifejacket preferably fitted with reflective tape and alight.

REMEMBER that if you do go over the side, at night or in bad weather, there is a high probability that you will not be recovered. Have the necessary safety equipment to hand so it is ready for immediate use:

A DROGUE to prevent drifting.

AN AUTOMATIC LIGHT - a continuous beam is considered most effective.A DANBOUY - fitted with flag 2 meters clear of the water which assists in marking the position of the lifebuoy.
A BUOYANT HEAVING LINE may be necessary in heavy seas if it is difficult to come alongside the person in the water. Practice man overboard Drills regularly - This can be achieved by using a fender and bucket as your casualty.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


The Scharnow Turn is a maneuver used to bring a ship or boat back to a point it previously passed through, for the purpose of recovering a man overboard. The Scharnow Turn is most appropriate when the point to be reached is significantly further astern than the vessel's turning radius. For other situations, an Anderson turn or a Williamson turn is more appropriate.
Put the rudder over hard. If in response to a man overboard, put the rudder toward the person (if the person fell over the starboard side, put the rudder over hard to starboard).
After deviating from the original course by about 240 degrees, shift the rudder hard to the opposite side.
When heading about 20 degrees short of the reciprocal course, put the rudder amidships so that vessel will turn onto the reciprocal course.
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.


The Williamson Turn is a maneuver used to bring a ship or boat under power back to a point it previously passed through, for the purpose of recovering a man overboard. The Williamson Turn is most appropriate at night or in reduced visibility, or if the point can be allowed to go (or already has gone) out of sight, but is still relatively near. For other situations, an Anderson turn (Quickest method) or a Scharnow turn might be more appropriate. The choice of which method will in large part depend on the prevailing wind and weather conditions.
Put the rudder over full.
If in response to a man overboard, put the rudder toward the person (if the person fell over the starboard side, put the rudder over full to starboard).
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 amidships so that vessel will turn onto the reciprocal course.
Bring the vessel upwind of the person, stop the vessel in the water with the person along-side, 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.