By John Lemon, Safety Coordinator
Recently an experienced racer and sailor fell overboard during a race on the Columbia River. For those of you who have wondered what the experience is like, here is a first-hand account.
The story underscores the importance of:
1) Regularly practicing crew overboard maneuvers, on as many different boats as you can, and
2) ALWAYS WEARING A LIFEJACKET!
This account may also convince you to resist the temptation to try to practice a "live crew" overboard maneuver. The risks are simply too great for all but the most experienced sailors under tightly controlled conditions. Instead, practice with a fender with a length of line attached. Using a lifejacket is not recommended, as other boaters may see the lifejacket in the water and put in a call to the Coast Guard and/or Marine Police.
If you have questions about proper execution of crew overboard maneuvers, contact one of Sail Chicago's volunteer sailing instructors. Details of the standard maneuvers, the Quick Stop and the Quick Turn, are shown in the US Sailing Basic Keelboat manual distributed to all students.