All sailors must know how to react quickly to a crew overboard situation.
The hallmark of the Quick-Stop Rescue method is the immediate reduction of boat speed by turning in a direction to windward and thereafter maneuvering at modest speed, remaining near the PIW. This rescue requires these steps:
1) As soon as a crew member falls overboard, throw buoyant objects, such as cushions, life jackets or life rings, to the PIW and shout, “Crew overboard!” These objects may not only come to the aid of the PIW, but will “litter the water” where he or she went overboard and help the spotter to keep him or her in view. It has been determined that the deployment of the standard overboard pole rig requires too much time. The pole rig is saved to “put on top” of the person in case the initial maneuver is unsuccessful.
2) Designate someone to spot and point at the PIW. The spotter should NEVER take his or her eyes off the PIW.
3) Bring the boat into the wind, trimming the mainsail and jib to close-hauled.
4) Continue to turn through the wind, without releasing the headsail, until the wind is almost astern. Do not ease the sails.
5) Hold this course until the PIW is aft of the beam, and drop or furl the headsail if possible. If the headsail is lowered, its sheets should not be slacked.
6) Jibe the boat.
7) Steer toward the PIW as if you were going to pick up a mooring.
8) Stop the boat alongside the PIW by easing or backing sails.
9) Establish contact with the PIW with a heaving line or other device. A “throwing sock” containing 75 feet of light floating line and a kapok bag can be thrown into the wind because the line is kept inside the bag and trails out as it sails to the PIW. Attach the PIW to the boat.
10) Bring the PIW on board.
Note: This method should be executed under sail alone unless there is insufficient wind to maneuver the boat.
This information is from our Basic Keelboat Certification Series.