Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Busy Day on Lake Union

The first week of July was perfect weather and I guess with the 4th near everyone was out enjoying the water from Gas Works Park, Lake Union or all along the shores.

 The former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant remnants of the sole remaining coal gasification plant in the US.

The Duck

There were so many different ideas on how to enjoy the Lake the Admiral enjoyed capturing as many of the vessels as possible. 

This is a piece of Dock with a outboard attached and a couple of couches built on top

These two were rafted up slowly motoring

And dragging their friends behind

Lots of Kayaks and Paddle boards

I saw this one at the Seattle Baot show the 12th Man Pontoon boat

Amazing how close the Kenmore Air Seaplanes land.

A fewInstructors and other staff werre doing some live MOB (man over board) drills so The Admiral volunteered me to participate

A Blue Teal Duck and Duckling

Busy Day on Lake Union

Prime Season is May 15 through September 15 but Seattle reaches a peak in July for all things outdoors. I am sure there are all kinds of contributing factors besides the school calender. Hard to beat the Pacific Northwest July weather anywhere else in the US. Lake Union being the centerpiece for the City brings out every conceivable craft that either floats, paddles/rows, sails or motors by some type of propulsion from steam, electricity to combustible fuels. the size of all these crafts vary just as widely from just a few feet in length to huge Super Yachts. Even though we have been sailing together several times Lake Union together, this day was special since they all showed up to enjoy the water at the same time. Sailing along required a vigilant lookout to Duck and Dodge so it was wise to just ease the mainsheet and sail slow to enjoy the sights.
At the end of our sail there was a Man Over Board Demonstration going on a Blanchard Jr. Knockabout that was suspended by dock lines out in the waterway at the Center for Wooden Boats. Kristin, the director of the Sail Now program that I volunteer for was leading the demonstration. She had two hearty volunteers in Dry suites playing the role of the MOB. As we walked up she asked if anyone else would like to be part of the demonstration, the Admiral immediately volunteered me, as I was hesitant to offer my back to physically lift a wet 200 pound man out of the water and over the rail into the boat.
Since I have been actively instructing others on the process of maneuvering a sailboat back to the MOB, I thoroughly understand the process of sailing the boat to the recovery point. I have even had two real MOB events on a vessel I owned. One on a night sail on our Catalina 250 at Canyon Lake where a inebriated friend slipped into the water just as the boat heeled after raising the sails. The Admiral and I were fresh off our ASA Sailing 101 course and immediately performed our figure 8 MOB. We had 4 other sailors on board to help with the recovery and the person who fell in was able to simply use the swim ladder on the stern to get himself back into the boat, The water was cold since it was a moonless windy December night so we got him below to get his wet clothes off and wrapped him in a blanket, the sail was over we returned to the dock to count our blessings. 
The second MOB recovery was on Lake Travis and I was single handing our Catalina 30 on a nice Saturday afternoon. I had sailed pretty far down the lake and just after I tacked to head back to the marina I heard a faint "Help", I looked back and saw a head bobbing in the water just behind me. I sailed back to the guy and wondered where he had come from, there was no other boat anywhere close. I tossed him a line and pulled him the the stern of the boat and lowered the swim ladder, I was hoping he had enough energy to get himself up, thankfully he did. I asked him how long he had been out in the water and he said about 2 hours and No life jacket!. I ran below and got him some beach towels to warm up with even though it was a summer day he had been in the 80 degree water long enough to get chilled. Turns out he fell off a sail boat he had recently bought and was taking out for the first time. We soon found his sailboat that had been corralled by some power boaters and got him back aboard with his dog.
So I  was very interested in this live demonstration even after equipping our own vessel with all the tools for man overboard events, I know it can be a real challenge to get a person aboard in Ocean environments where there can be considerable waves and add to that a situation where the person is unable to help themselves get back aboard due to hypothermia or a knock on the head or whatever.
We tried both situations where the MOB could help and the event where we had to get them back on board where they did not help. For the first situation we used a stern line and made a sling tied off at the midships cleat so they could put their foot on the sling and by grabbing the rail with their hands and standing in the sling it got them up to the cockpit and we just guided them over till they were safely on board.
For the situation where they did not help and were just dead weight, we lifted them as high as we could and got there upper body out of the water. using the sling under their arms and cleated to hold them up, we then reached down and pulled one leg up at a time till we could roll the victim over the rail and into the cockpit. This was not easy and it is one of those things where I could have easily strained my own lower back as you are in a awkward position leaning over the side of a boat lifting. So I was very careful to avoid that especially since this was just a practice. These boats do not have winches and the main sheet block is not convenient to use as a hoist, they could be converted but then there is the issue that these boats do not have a topping lift and have a wooden boom that may not support 200+ pounds. With the mainsail up I think it would work but we did not want to risk breaking the boom or tearing the sail. There is just not enough time in this blog to document all of our conversation and experience. The point is that is was a very valuable exercise to use real humans instead of just a throwable PFD that you sail close to and simply pick up with a boat hook. Sailing schools, Yacht clubs and other boating organizations could provide a huge service by doing yearly live MOB demonstrations for their members. It would provide the environment so these issues could be sufficiently explored for if and when it occurs the chances for success greatly improve. Here in the Pacific Northwest cold waters hypothermia can set in just 15 minutes. If you sail in warm waters it would take considerable longer but the person who goes over board may have injured themselves on the way to the water so they may not be able to help themselves at all.Watch this video of a real MOB during a ocean Race, and then just imagine if there were only two persons aboad as so many man and wife teams are. Then there is only one to get the other back on the boat.

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