Man Over Board – 5 minute briefing 

Simon Jinks from SeaRegs Training provides some top tips in the event of a man over board situation.

Top tips

  •  Keep everyone aboard in the first place by briefing the crew when you are turning or powering up
  • Avoid sharp throttle or wheel movements that could catch crew off balance.

Initial Actions

Shout ‘Man Over Board’ (MOB)
Spot the MOB
Consider throwing a danbuoy or buoyant object to give a visual reference point
Press MOB ‘Enter’ button on the GPS
Call a Mayday or DSC alert

Secondary actions

Prepare a lasso or line to throw around the MOB
Put a crew in a harness to aid retrieval of the MOB
If the MOB has no buoyancy, it may be necessary to drop them a lifering, fender or cushion to help them stay afloat before starting your approach.


Method one

If the person is well insight keep the manoeuvre simple.
Slow down or stop and establish wind direction.
Turn around and drive upwind of the MOB.
Stop and drift downwind onto the MOB – beam-on.
On a twin engine boat, use the engine furthest away from the MOB to keep position.


Method Two
Williamson Turn


The Williamson turn is an initial action after a person has fallen overboard. It turns the boat back towards its wake where the MOB should be found. It is designed for motorboats travelling at speed but works with all vessels and is a useful strategy at night.

  1. Man overboard. Compass course noted and reciprocal course worked out. The easiest way of doing this on standard compasses is to place your hand along the compass card and read off the reciprocal heading. Do not adjust speed.
  2. Boat steers 50 degrees to starboard. This turn to starboard opens up a turning circle to allow the boat to come back on its wake.
  3. Helm hard over to bring the boat to port.
  4. Continue with helm hard over until the boat nears its reciprocal heading, then straighten up and steer the reciprocal heading. This should bring the boat back on its wake. SLOW DOWN and look for the MOB.

    The 50 degree offset to starboard will vary as boats turning circles differ depending on their hull configuration. Sea conditions and weather also play their part, what you are looking for is an allowance to get back to your wake.

The Pick up

Once sighted, establish the wind direction and aim a few metres to windward of the casualty. Once up wind, stop and allow the wind to blow the boat onto the casualty. Use the engine furthest away from the casualty for final positioning.

Engines on or off

A decision has to be made whether or not to switch off your engine when alongside the casualty. If there is a chance of accidently knocking the boat in gear then the engine is best switched off. Twin engine boats often switch off the engine closest to the casualty.

Next Month
MOB retrieval

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Article Published: September 11, 2012 13:41

Article Updated: October 24, 2013 11:23


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