Man overboard – Part 3

In part 1 we looked at immediate actions after a man overboard; alerting crew, MOB button and Mayday etc.

In part 2 we successfully maneuvered the boat into a position where we can effect a recovery and rescue of the casualty.

Man Overboard Recovery

The final sticking point is recovery: if your boat has any kind of freeboard at all, you’ll soon realise that trying to get them out of the water is not as simple as it looks.

If your boat has a bathing platform on the transom, then you might be able to get them back aboard via the ladder. It is worth bearing in mind that in rough conditions this will be a dangerous place to attempt to recover a MOB, as there is a risk of being drawn under the stern.


This is set on the side of the boat with the foot attached to the gunwale. The head is attached either to a handybilly (block and tackle) or straight to the halyard.

MOB Recovery Raft

These are purpose built for the job. Again, you could use the halyard or, if your boat doesn’t have a solid kicker, the boom and mainsheet.


If the MOB is conscious and able, a line attached at the bow to a deck cleat or gunwale and the other end to a winch through a stern fair-lead, the MOB can stand on the line while being winched up level with the deck.

The casualty in cold and possibly hypothermic condition.

If the casualty is hypothermic and unable to fend for themselves it is important to raise them in a horizontal attitude. This will help to prevent an abnormal strain on the heart and a possible heart attack.

Simple is best.

As stated earlier, the swim ladder or platform is the obvious place to recover your MOB.

Also think about using a tender/inflatable if available and in extreme emergencies, inflate and use your life-raft.

The most important consideration is speed; act fast and get them on-board as quickly as possible.