Navy 44 Sailing Guides


Safety Considerations:

(1) Ensure lines are aboard prior to engaging the engine.

(2) Ensure crew members remain in safe areas while tacking and gybing.

(3) When backwinding the mainsail, ensure sufficient people hold the boom to effectively control it.

(4) Tether the swimmer to the boat if they enter the water.

(5) Do not create a bigger emergency by panicking.


General Situation:

Assume proceeding under main and headsail in moderate conditions.


Required Positions:

(1) Helmsman.

(2) Pointer.

(3) Mainsheet.

(4) Mast.

(5) Foredeck Crew.

(6) Swimmer.

(7) Navigator.

(8) Recovery Team.  Can be drawn from other positions as available.


Sequence of Events:

(1) The person sighting the MOB should call out "Man overboard, starboard (port) side" and point at the victim until relieved.  This person becomes the Pointer.

(2) Helmsman throws the PFD to the victim and begin to turn the boat through the wind (tack) and calls out "Tacking".  The jib sheet is not released.

(3) Helmsman calls out "All hands on deck".  Safety harnesses should be worn if conditions warrant.  The senior person on deck directs those coming topside to appropriate jobs.  An experienced helmsman takes the helm.

(4) Navigator stores the current position in the LORAN/GPS set.

(5) Helmsman completes tacking the boat into a hove-to position to slow boat speed and starts the engine, leaving it in neutral.  Swimmer prepares to enter water if needed.

(6) Helmsman falls off to 160 degrees relative to wind.  Foredeck Crew and  Mast prepare to douse headsail and, when set, call "Ready".

(7) Helmsman calls out "Douse the headsail" and Foredeck Crew and Mast lower headsail and secure on deck.

(8) Helmsman calls out "Gybing" and falls off, while Mainsheet ensures the main is centerlined, and gybes the boat.

(9) Return to the victim as quickly as possible.  Foredeck cleanup will still be in progress.  Mainsheet trims in accordance with Helmsman's directions.

(10) Helmsman approaches victim with wind 45-60 degrees off the bow.

(11) Navigator maintains plot in case first recovery is unsuccessful and boat must return to the victim.

(12) Recovery Team prepares to retrieve victim.  See Notes.

(13) Helmsman positions boat alongside victim and to windward.  Boat should be dead in the water when alongside.  Direct the main to be backwinded if needed.  WHEN BACKWINDING THE MAIN, ENSURE SUFFICIENT PEOPLE ARE USED FOR THE CONDITIONS.  Use the engine if necessary.  See notes.

(14) Recovery Team establishes contact with victim by throw sock and recovers the victim.

(15) Swimmer may have to enter the water if the victim is incapable of assisting rescue efforts.

(16) Evaluate the condition of the victim and call for assistance if needed.  At the very least, the victim must be treated for shock and observed for symptoms after recovery.



(1) When approaching the victim take into account turning radius, surge, wind and sea angles, and maintenance of sufficient distance from the victim to prevent injury from pitching motion and the propeller.

(2) Some methods for recovering victim include: using a boarding ladder, pulling the victim from the water with two or more crewmen, haul the victim aboard using the Lifesling and a spinnaker halyard, or attach a spinnaker halyard to the victim's safety harness.

(3) Use a spinnaker halyard vice a genoa halyard for recovery because the spinnaker halyard block can swivel to provide a better lead.

- This page last updated 05/04/2005 -