Step 4: Execute a Williamson Turn

It is actually quite hard to steer a boat of any size back to a particular spot in the water. There are a couple of manoeuvres that make this easier. One is the Williamson Turn - ti requires no equipment, although a compass is helpful, and puts the boat on a return course back along its original track.

- To start, steer a straight course away from the victim
- Put the helm hard over and wait until the boat has turned 90 degrees.
- Put the helm hard over the other way, and wait until the boat has turned 270 degrees. Be careful to keep the victim in sight during this second turn. Do not change speed.
- The boat should now be heading directly towards the victim

If a compass is available, the course change may be made based on compass heading. If not, pick a mark on the horizon off the boats beam (on land, or a distinctive cloud, or just use a best guess), and steer until the boat is heading for it. Then turn the other way until the boat is heading for the victim.

It doesn't matter which way the initial turn is made, or how fast the boat is going, or how sharp the turn is. All that matters is that the speed is consistent and the turns are of equal radius.

If a GPS waypoiint was saved where the victim went overboard, it may be used as an aid to returning. However, the victim (and marker pole) will drift with current or tide while the GPS waypoint will not. A well-executed Williamson Turn will give better results.

The video shows a drill with 2 uninjured victims, and sails already furled.

nice bathing but this is anything but a rescue drill&hellip;<br>except for the turn : any object thrown in the water could have done the trick&hellip; but both kids enjoyed the experience <br>otherwise the crew does not perform his duty = someone constantly watchi g the mMOB with arm stretched in his / her direction, compass route checked and remembered as soon as the crew falls into the water sails being already furled this solves most of the problem but does not reflect true to life conditions (eg. slacking the sail, starting the engine, checking there is no line overboard that could snag the propeller which would seriously jeopardize the mob's chance of survival), immediate call of the CG on the VHF, and using the equipment you designed for that : the long tether that was supposed to allow the mob to get a quick link with the boat, the recovery sling (most of the tie a mob is shocked if not injured, and will not be able to climb the ladder so gallantly (but in less than in emergency) offered by the crew member, the hailyard at the end of the boom : all this should be done in less than one minute.<br>It can be done even with a short handed crew&hellip; but the solution is know your boat, have it ready, and drill, drill, drill all the time !!!&hellip;<br>I know it's not that easy with friends who are here on vacations, but better bother now than sorry later <br>when I can I'll post my own recovery procedure with my own boat<br>thank you anyway !!!!
Man overboard rescue in a sailboat under sail is accomplished by immediately designating someone to watch the victim . The Capt falls off the wind & does a controlled jibe;sails down wind of the victim ;when the boat is 2-3 boat lengths from the victim ,the capt heads boat into the wind & along side the victim ,(depowering the sails stops all forward movement of the boat & with the assistance of crew the victim is pulled aboard . If you have a motor you do the same procedures outlined above .Do not waste valuable time reducing or taking the sails down ! All responsible Capts practice the man overboard drill as I have outlined it inorder execute it correctly & make the rescue approach specific for their boat ! All boats should have a ladder so the victim can easily get back into the boat ! All sailors or crew should wear life jackets or a personal floatation device with a whistle attached to it ! .
I pretty much agree with all this. The 2 days we did a drill, there was no wind, but yes, it should be practiced under sail. On my boat, the jib obscures the view ahead off the leeward bow, and with roller furling it's quick to get it out of the way. Unless it's needed to make way, I'd recommend rolling it up. For other sails, it's more of a judgment call. With my Bermudan rig, I wanted to use the boom as a hoist, and it only takes maybe 30 seconds to drop the sail and secure it. I have not tried a drill in bad weather (even a hat), but based on my experience trying to reef during a gale, the mainsail is a significant hazard to anyone trying to work on deck on a 30ft boat. Getting whacked in the face by a wet mainsheet is at best a distraction, while having a second crew member knocked overboard during an uncontrolled gybe by a panicked helmsman is decidedly unhelpful. With sufficient experienced crew to simultaneously work the sails and safely perform the rescue it would be different.
I was a Sailor with lots of training from the US Navy we lost guys overboard out at Sea heading for Vietnam from the Phillipines we lost two and found one alive the others bodies were never found!! we searched for days also we had aft watches on every ship in the vacinity if you lose someone at sea they are very difficult to find, falling overboard is not a viable option!!!!
Danish Navy had also aft watches on their last real military cadet practice ship Møen (2004, decommissioned now) . But for my knowledge, that was the last place in their Navy with such traditions (also many other, like boatswains call and the like). It was some nice time I had there. My present employer, Latvian Navy hasn't even dreamed of such traditions.
Occasionally people get lucky. like <a rel="nofollow" href="http://preview.tinyurl.com/bofnvq">this guy</a> near here<br/>
Standard Williamson turn, according to IAMSAR, is first 60 degrees, then 30 degrees. Using hard port/stbd of course.
I forget my original source; I've been using the 90-270 one which as I say can be estimated using a point abeam, I recall another version with 3 turns, I think 30-300-30, giving a symmetrical lollipop shape.
This (90-270) sounds like really nice rule of thumb. My mentioned 60-30 is kinda standard, of course each and every ship has its own best angles to achieve fastest manoeuver, where both sides are not identical.
This is a <em>really great</em> instructable! I attended boating and sailing instructions where we learned how to perform the maneuver 'man over board' - well, 'buoy over board' since we threw a fender over board instead of a person.<br/><br/>The Williamson turn looks really effective. However, I am more a sailor and on a sailboat this is impossible. However, there are other options.<br/><br/>And a last remark from my side: Many boating / sailing GPS receivers have a mark button to set the current position as waypoint. Usually it gets the name 'MOB' (Man Over Board) by default. Simply press buttons 'mark', then 'goto' to see where to find your victim.<br/>--<br/>Airspace V - international hangar flying!<br/><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.airspace-v.com/ggadgets">http://www.airspace-v.com/ggadgets</a> for tools &amp; toys<br/>
Yes, coming about under sail is going to be more difficult. I suggest furling the sails and doing it under power. Otherwise you'd aim to come into the wind near the victim. I do mention the GPS; my Garmin has the MOB button you mention. Also my old autopilot had one, which assumed constant speed. If you know how to use this effectively, great. I was meaning to mark a waypoint during a drill and see how well it worked, but forgot.
As an instructable, great work. Just one thing. Shouldnt anyone, who goes out sailing allready have SOLAS courses completed and know all this?
I did read recently of a sailing race requiring some kind of certification.. But historically, no, you don't need anything. Canada has recently required a test for anything with an engine, but it's aimed more at powerboats. I don't know what courses would actually require you to practice a live recovery, as opposed to just reading up on it.
When approaching, you have to steer on the wind side from victim, then the wind helps by blowing you closer and not away from the person.
Great ible!
I love these bits of knowledge. I'm no sailor, but who knows when this kind of thing will come in handy. You presented it well enough that even on a single read, I'll probably have the essential points in my head if something like this ever happens in my presence.
Wow! I'd never thought about all this - thanks for sharing!
great! That Williamson turn seemed counter-intuitive until I read the description. I bet a lot of people (me included) would have just tried to circle around in one turn. But the Williamson seems like a smarter choice, especially if you're further away.
This is good to know.

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