Like Tom Taylor and Joseph DiMatteo (see Mailport PS August 2019), Ive stopped using inflatable PFDs and instead wear inherently buoyant foam versions. I found that ones designed for dinghy sailing are often very comfortable and have convenient pockets for knives, whistles, flashlights, and even handheld VHFs (I keep one with GPS and DSC on myself, especially when single-handing).
Some simple steps can reduce the risk of a crew overboard incident.
For years, safety advocates have touted the use of a four-part block and tackle attached to the end of the boom as the hoist of choice. It affords a great dockside demo, but put to use in a rolling seaway, a crew quickly notes that boat motion causes the boom to flail about and the hurriedly dropped mainsail further complicates using the boom as a hoisting tool.
Ocean sailing in a modern race boat or multihull with a high horsepower rig makes double-digit boat speed attainable and complicates a MOB rescue. Our research suggests that no single MOB tactic works for all occasions.
Man overboard recovery failures have become a frequent headline, and details about these tragedies hold lessons worth learning.
With regards to your recent marine oil filter tests (see PS July 2019, Marine Oil Filter Comparison Test), having spent my career in the aeronautical engine technical field specializing in maintenance I must state my allegiance to non-encapsulated filters and independent housings. This trend towards spin-on filter assemblies prevents in my opinion the most important aspect of filter maintenance which is particle inspection. Filters are not removed so you can inspect or replace them, they are removed so you can ascertain your engines condition. This practice seems to have been set aside to make way to quick and easy maintenance using spin-on filters. Oil analysis is fine but it should start with a simple sediment inspection after a low cost electro- sonic cleaning in a 60 Hz bath (jewelry cleaner bath).
Late last month, the United Kingdoms Marine Accident Investigation Board released its investigation report on the death of Simon Speirs, the 60-year-old sailor who drowned after falling overboard during the 2017-2018 Clipper Ventures Around the World Race. The biennial race, organized by legendary offshore sailor Sir Robin Knox Johnston, invites sailors to pay about $60,000 to compete in a nearly year-long race around the world on custom 70-foot offshore racing sloops. The race is also an advertising vehicle for corporate sponsors. The next race is set to begin in about two months.
I really appreciated the article Anchoring in Crowded Harbors (see Practical Sailor, June 2019). The difficult and critical part is always estimating distances, and the guides you gave (two-to-three mast heights, using fractions of a nautical mile, etc.) can be difficult to do accurately in a crowded harbor with the sun setting, with some of that information available only at the helm, and multiple boats moving to anchor. As a bow hunter, I am…
Even the best helmet will fail if poorly fitted. Expect this to take some time. Measure your head and get the right size. Loose is no good, and too small will sit high or give you a headache.
Head protection has become a hot topic among sailors. Volvo Ocean Race helmsman wear surf helmets with retractable visors. Americas Cup crew wears them, along with body armor and breathing equipment. Amateurs in high performance beach catamaran and dinghy classes are adopting them in big numbers, and some youth, college, and Olympic sailing programs have made them mandatory, like PFDs. Even cruisers are beginning to wonder about trips up the mast, heavy weather sailing, and even routine bumps. Is it the new thing, or just transition period until we work out where they make sense?