Step 4: Execute a Williamson Turn
- 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.