Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Man Overboard

This is one in a series of A Guide to Narrow Boat Problems.

Crew member falls overboard
Lack of attention, loss of balance through hitting an obstruction, slippery deck ….
Don't panic, don't jump in – and don't let others jump in. The water is very cold even in summer and the water depth is probably unknown. Keep sight of the person in the water at all times.
On narrow canals and slow, shallow rivers turn your engine off. It is crucial to avoid the rotating prop from coming near to the victim so don't reverse the boat if the person in the water could be dragged into the propeller.
Throw a line or a lifebelt, attach and hold on to the end of the line and tell them to try to stand up – if it's a canal they might be able to walk out.
Steer the boat slowly to the bank, using pole if necessary, and get one of your crew to help the person to shore.
On wider or deeper waterways throw a lifebuoy or line and steer your boat carefully to approach the person in the water. Keep a constant watch to ensure your propeller is well away from them. Stop the propeller immediately by selecting neutral gear if there's a risk of them getting close to it. Pull them to the side (not the stern) of the boat and help them aboard with a ladder, rope or pole. [from The Boater's Handbook]
Keep lifebelt and rope available, obvious and in good condition. Keep decks clean and clear of ropes and other obstructions, including autumn leaves. Wear non-slip soled shoes. Use a non-slip surface on the gunwales.  In tunnels and bridges keep within the form of the boat. Skipper should make all crew aware of protruding branches where the canal narrows
Be prepared. Make sure everyone on the boat knows the drill – and knows where to find the lifeline or lifebelt. In case it's the skipper who falls overboard, the crew should also know how to stop the propeller and steer the boat. Practice the drill. It's better to learn it before an accident happens.

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