Man Over Board

Posted on June 20, 2018


It’s a scenario no one on a moving vessel wants at sea.

Safety is key especially with kids. We drum it in everyday:

Three points of contact when moving around the boat.

Stay out of the “triangle of death” – the area below the boom which can swing, hard and fast.

And the Man Over Board (MOB) procedure also forms part of this critical knowledge.

All captains of each boat talked their crew through what to do in case of an emergency and our boat Mayotte even had time to demo en route to our next destination Diamond Cay.

A fender (large buoy used as a buffer against the hull for docking and de-docking) was tied to a bucket and named Derek.

We stressed why it is never ever safe to have a person demo this scenario despite the protests of the kids. An MOB is an extremely stressful and tricky manoeuvre to haul someone up and out of open water. It’s every captain’s worst nightmare. Depending on the condition of the victim it can also take a while. They may or may not be conscious and they may well be injured, in shock and panicking. All hands on deck are required.

Our captain grabbed hold of Derek and chucked him over the stern. Everyone screamed “MAN OVER BOARD!” as he floated away.

The pointer kept eyes on Derek moving her finger to trace his whereabouts.

Our skipper of the day shouted, “Crash tack, no one touch anything..!”

“Wait, why did we attach a bucket it’s gonna sink….?” asked one of the twins on our vessel.

“Buckets don’t float,” replied a staff member, straight faced trying hard not to break into a laugh.

We cut to engine power immediately and tried our best to swerve in close.

Our monohull Mayotte turned in circles trying to navigate the best pick up point for poor Derek. The swells were pulling him under. The crew shouted his position every time he moved.

First pick up attempt Derek ducked and bobbed and slipped away from us. Our Hooker (person clutching the long boat hook) missed him. Next attempt, we failed again, third attempt…..

“Oh boy, this could be a while,” I thought to myself. I remembered how even on staff training with a group of experienced sailors we struggled.

Finally after ten minutes we were headed once more straight for Derek. Then the worst possible thing happened. The boat hit Derek head on and he was pushed.

For ten to fifteen seconds we craned our heads over the side frantically looking for him. Was he caught under the boat? Did he disappear all together?

Eventually he popped up and our hooker with some staff assistance managed to grab him.

Somewhat frazzled the twin yelled at his sister, skipper of the day, “You killed Derek!”, lifting the blackened fender from the sea.

“No I did not,”she fired back defensively. “It was a group effort.”