Boating Tips

Safety Tips: Man Overboard

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On a recent fishing charter, clients were out for a day of fishing and a situation occurred where one of the charter clients fell overboard.

While out in the deep sea, the they were fishing merrily after receiving instruction from the charter captain.

One of the clients managed to get his hook snagged on the flybridge when casting and asked one of his friends to climb up and loosen the hook. The hook was freed quite easily but as the person on the flybridge leant over to look at the fishing going on below, a swell rocked the boat and he was thrown off the flybridge into the sea.

To make matters worse for the man overboard, he was surrounded by a variety of sharks that had been attracted by the bait. Apart from the cold water, there was real danger from the circling sharks. As the MOB (man overboard) floundered in the water and tried to keep himself afloat, he also managed to get entangled in one of the heavy duty game fishing lines

The captain responded without panicking and quickly threw a life ring out to him and the crew helped him back aboard.

Luckily the boat was not moving at the time of his accident or the boat would have had to circle in order to pick him up. Everyone on board worked to assist the MOB and get him back on deck as quickly as possible. Being caught up in the fishing line posed an even greater problem, as this could have led to some deep wounds caused by the line going tight when the fish took the bait. That situation fortunately did not play out on the day.

Typically, retrieving a MOB takes place when it’s least expected and in conditions that are challenging, so being prepared to deal with the situation in the correct manner is key.

Here are Leisure Boating’s top tips for dealing with a man overboard.

Keep your eye on the prize

Whoever sees the event of someone falling overboard occurring must call out loudly “man overboard” to alert everyone else on the boat. It is imperative to keep your eyes on the person who has fallen overboard and constantly call out the person’s position in relation to the boat.

It is very easy to lose sight of a man overboard at sea. Swells can quickly obscure your vision, making it very difficult to locate the swimmer.

If you have established visual contact with the person who has fallen overboard, try and maintain that contact at all costs all the while calling out loudly for all on board to hear, the position of the person.

If you have a MOB button on your GPS/chart plotter, press that immediately so that you have a reference point if you lose sight of the person in the water.


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