Sunday, August 24, 2008

Man overboard drill

Man overboard drill

Odd set of words, really; everybody understands the first two, but what does the last one mean?

Am not, of course, personally responsible for every life on this planet – but some things have prompted these thoughts.

Once upon a time I owned a boat. Would, on occasion, take people out “for a sail” on it. Day-sails weren't a problem, everyone trusted me to get them out and back - deliver them safely back to dry land – home, safe and sound.

And wasn't a problem, 'cos the conditions were predictable within one day.

My problem came when setting out on longer journeys.

Some while ago, planned a journey from Hastings in Victoria, to Adelaide and duly advertised for crew. A young lad by the name of Michael turned up and came aboard. Took him out for a day-sail. He told me that he had experience in dinghys. “Ah”, say I, “know anything about 'man overboard'?”

“Ah yes”, he says, and explains the theory in great detail. OK, think i. We were under full plain sail so let him take the helm and at some unpredictable point during the day wandered forrard. Had one of those circular 'lifebuoy' thingos on the cabintop at the time so sort of just dropped it overboard. “Oy, Michael. I just fell in.”

“What??” 'e sez. “That's me, floating past the stern.” sez me, and refused to say anything further.

Did well, he did; quickly calculated how to do a figure of 8 with a 32' ketch under full sail. What he didn't count on was that 9 tonne in the water didn't stop easily. No brakes. Brushed past it at 4 knots. Took him an hour or so to get back and retrieve the lifering.

“Not bad”, say I, “but think I drowned about half an hour ago.” Oh yes, we practised that through many conditions until he could bring that boat to a standstill alongside a stationary floating object within 10 minutes. [heaving a sodden body aboard is another story] Loved that lad, he was quiet, unassuming, quick on the uptake. Had, in my ignorance at that time, promised Christmas in South Australia. Um, weather conditions were such that the best that i could do was a December 25 sneak into Port McDonnell – just over the border .. but that's another story.

Same with the journey of more than one. The journey from Gippsland Lakes to Brisbane began with me and a crew of three. OK, say i, we practise man overboard drill four times. Why, Ask they. Ah. Say i, until you can effin tell which one will go overboard, we will effin do it each time with a crew of three – one missing, OK!

Ooo, I can be Bligh, if necessary.

[but then, might be selfishly arrogant. Might be me who falls into the endless ocean]


Jayne said...

Better to be Bligh than bloated ;)

Davo said...

Bligh, of course, is a man much maligned by historians .. heh.