Only 1 boat, SV Respite crewed by Chris & Janet Wenderoth, participated in the hands on part of the drill. Janet was a very good and trusting sport volunteering to put on the survival suit and trust her husband to come get her.
First learning of the day was that the line in the Life Sling bag was not properly flaked in and did not play out smoothly when the ring was thrown to the victim. This should be a regular inspection item on all boats.
We maneuvered to circle the victim with the rope and bring the ring to her. We then pulled the victim to the boat. On Respite, because of the sail configuration, dodger, dinghy and other accessories at the back of the boat it was deemed necessary to use the spin halyard to bring her onto the deck.
Here we learned that with the height of the freeboard on Respite securing the victim to the boat required some thinking about how to secure the Life Sling to the side of the boat. Jen was conscious and helpful. A hypothermic and helpless victim would likely not be as easy to secure against the side of the boat. The thought here was that a very large carabineer from the hardware store kept in the bottom of the Life Sling bag might suit this purpose well. There isn’t much weight being supported, you just don’t want the victim to float off.
Having thought this through ahead of time, Chris had a turning block and line set up. He secured the free end of the line to the victim. Ran the turning block up about 10 feet on the spin halyard and ran the rest of the line through the jib car and back to a winch. This enabled him to safely winch the victim up onto the deck, clearing the life lines easily.
In this part of the rescue we learned that when hoisting the victim up and onto the boat, at some time in this process the rescuer will need to stop and release the victim from the side of the boat. Do you have a self tailing winch or cleat that you trust for this step of the process? Does the line you have dedicated to this purpose function properly in your self-tailing winch? We also learned that load bearing quick disconnect hardware would make securing the rescue line to the victim much quicker. A self-locking REI quality carabineer or other device is way easier to connect than is tying a bowline leaning over the deck.
Overall it was an excellent rehearsal for a procedure they hope they never need to execute
Key to Photos
#31 is Happy Janet because she is not yet in the drink
#35 is a less happy Janet as she is in the drink hoping we can get back to her
#40 is a concerned Janet. We have her alongside the boat, but she’s not too sure how we’re going to actually get her back onto the boat.
#43 Is Janet happy again to be getting safely winched back onto the boat and into the arms of her rescuers.