COB/crew overboard thoughts
Below is a recipe for a COB drill that is about as close to the real thing as is safe (primarily for couples, but the format might be good for other crew combinations). Also note that drill gives about the best shot of recovery that is likely on a boat: crew on the helm and prepared and not down below, just talked through procedure, less of an anxiety rush, etc.)
The drill is for 2 couples, but more might benefit. Before getting on board, go over the suggested procedures and talk them through. Include each couple’s COB procedures as they are likely to differ in some details.
Then, we get everyone on board Alchemy (depending on boat size, other couples might benefit from joining and spectating), and we take turns having one person jump overboard in a wetsuit/lifevest or drysuit. Then the partner, now single-handing, executes a recovery while the other couple watches/spectates (and is there to help if needed) while the partner single-hands the boat to recovery, including getting the COB onboard. Then do a de-brief to discuss what went well, what did not, gear that might be added or modified etc. Let the executing couple talk first, then the spectating couple weigh in with their observations. Quite ambitious couples might each take a turn (or the “in water” person might execute a “horseshoe” recovery to get practice.) and if circumstances allow, try for different conditions: say morning calm and afternoon F4-5. Finish off in the future by going after a horseshoe/cushion in varying wind strengths, varying points of sail, and varying sea states.
Then we move to the other couple’s boat and they have a chance to execute a drill with someone in the water duplicating the above.
Doing these drills made clear that Alchemy’s admonition: “If you fall overboard, you are dead” holds a great deal of truth even as it sounds quite harsh. Others make the point that the toerail should be thought of and treated as the edge of a cliff. Even valiant efforts at COB recovery still relies on a great deal of luck in our experience.
Come back with questions.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy