Cruising yachts are mostly sailed by couples and are essentially short-handed when it comes to making vigorous sailing maneuvers. When a crewmember goes overboard, it is always at the worst time and completely unexpected. It means that the reaction time to start the correct maneuver is typically not good.
There is a method of man over board recovery that works in all situations and requires only one crew member and no sail trimming – it is called the crash stop.
The maneuver sequence is as follows:
- As soon as MOB occurs, head up to beam reach and go 2 to 3 boat lengths
- Tack the boat without touching the sheets
- Once the jib is back-winded, turn the helm all the way back as if you were trying to get back on the tack you were originally on. The boat will not tack, though.
- That is because of the pressure on the jib; the rudder and jib will cancel each other out and the boat will be stalled.
- Lock the wheel hard over where it is, so that you can leave the helm and attend to getting the MOB gear deployed – (Note: Once hove-to, the boat will stay in this position until you either release the jib sheet, straighten the wheel and start sailing again, or alternatively jibe out of it using the rudder).
- If you’d like, you can ease the main and let the sail luff, or trim it tight to ensure you remain hove-to. Once hove-to, everything slows down and allows you to gather your wits to deal with the problem.
- At this stage you will be slowly crabbing back towards your MOB at under 1 knot.
- You can now elect to start the engine to maneuver the boat to the MOB - ensure that the propeller does not injure the MOB
- Or if you are going towards him, you can heave a line to him.
- Severely castigate the MOB for his carelessness. Then treat with Rum.
One person alone can do this entire maneuver: it stops the boat close to the MOB which is good for morale and allows you to speak to him/her.
Hove to is a maneuver that can be used for reefing, in heavy weather or just stopping for lunch without dropping the sails and of course for MOB.