Crew Overboard Prevention: How to Remain Aboard

Following these rules can prevent virtually all man-overboard incidents:

1. Remain sober, especially if you expect to go on deck for any reason.
2. Wear non-skid footwear when working on deck and have nonskid paint or pads in critical work areas.
3. Walk or crawl on the uphill windward side in a crouched position with a low center of gravity and wide-based stance when the boat is rolling, heeling, or pitching.
4. If the boat’s motion is too violent to allow a person to stand, then crawl or slide along the deck.
5. Use a safety harness (with two shackles) as a “third hand,” secured to a strong attachment point, with a quick release shackle at the body end of the harness.
6. Use a safety harness whenever going aloft in the rigging or climbing any superstructure.
7. Avoid leaning overboard with all your weight on a lifeline or stanchion.
8. Know the location of secure handholds and grab rails so you can find them at night.
9. Know the safe routes to avoid tripping on deck hardware, vents, and hatches, especially at night.
10. Do not urinate from the afterdeck in rough weather unless you are kneeling and attached with a safety harness.
11. Wear a safety harness whenever seasick; vomit into a bucket rather than leaning overboard.
12. In heavy weather, sleep in the harness and be ready to attach the tether to ca cockpit.

Paul Auerbach, Wilderness Medicine, Chapter 83, “Safety and Survival at Sea,” by Michael E. Jacobs and Charles Hawley.
Cited in US Sailing Safety at Sea, Chapter 9 – Crew Overboard Prevention and Recovery by Peter Isler.

Learn more about Crew Overboard Prevention and Recovery.

This resource is provided by the US Sailing Safety at Sea.