Before Rolex Middle Sea Race in October, we spent a day on safety. Setting the trysail, the storm jib and going through all the reefs on both jibs and the main to be sure everyone knew the routines.
But the most important activity was to do some proper MOB practice.
Each member of the crew have a personal Deckvest Vito 170N Hammar lifejacket + Safety Line (typically DW-STR/3L/C with one short, and one longer elastic, than loops into the vest) + MOB1 AIS MOB device with integrated DSC mounted inside the vest.
Some of us also have a PLB1 inside the vest (there’s a good space on the right, opposite of the Hammar inflator).
Om the boat we have the following equipment available at the back of the boat:
We’ve mounted MOB buttons close to the helmsman. Two, on each side of the plotter mount, that activate the MOB function in Expedition. Expedition also registers the positions of any alarm from the MOB1 devices. We activate the MOB functionality on H5000 directly on the plotter.
We’ve chosen to keep those systems separate for redundancy.
With the whole crew, we wanted to go through the whole procedure, and evaluate different scenarios as well as proper actions. We tried to discuss all topics before leaving the dock, try them in practice and then evaluate afterward:
– Who does what (helmsman, navigator, keyboard, …)
– Roles at initial MOB + when with everyone on deck
– MOB buttons
– How does AIS/MOB1 show up
– Designated spotter
– Gennaker takedown/recovery
– Sail back vs engine
– Different approaches to MOB
– Use of lifesling vs MOBline
– Recovery methods w halyard etc
So what did we learn?
First of all. Everyone should test jumping in the sea with their own lifejacket. First to see what actually happens. But also to figure out how everything works; sprayhood, lights, adjusting the leg strap and deflating the bladder.
And to learn how to repack the vest. This was the first time many had to replace a Hammar inflator, so very useful to have done it a couple of times before having to do it in the middle of the night at sea.
MOB-devices with AIS/DSC need attention. First, they need to be programmed and mounted properly. And they are pretty easy to set off if you’re not careful. Both in Valetta, and at sea, we had false alarms almost daily. We also found out that our AIS-reciever had an alarm that we couldn’t turn off as long as a device in the harbor was engaged. Very annoying.
To not get too far from someone in the water is key, so we discussed several scenarios for a gennaker crash drop. Even if messy, it would be faster than prepping a normal one (3 minutes at 15 knots is 1400 m). This is something we regularly do when broaching, som it could be a component here as well.
The helmsman has many things to do – and need support. Key here (after pushing MOB buttons) is to get the boat stopped, and return to the MOB asap. Then be super concentrated att approaching the MOB.
Many of the difficulties come down to boat handling and can be practiced. Approaching with a sling. Getting close (but not to close to the MOB. Stopping the boat. Keeping it in place while recovering the person in the water.
The J/111 has low freeboards, so it’s relatively easy to bring a person on board when fully crewed. Either aft to leeward or at the open transom. It will be harder in big seas, but I’m confident this will work. For most, this will be the biggest challenge.
A big concern is locating a person at night, so this would be something to try at another time. Until then, we’re very serious with both lights on the lifejackets (all have a “pylon light” as well as the “Lume-On” that lights up the whole bladder) and proper search lights on board.
The most important thing is that the team learns as much as possible. There’s no standard recipe, so the more everyone understands about priorities, scenarios, alternatives, and equipment the better.