Step 4: Execute a Williamson Turn

Picture of 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.

vincent75204 years ago
nice bathing but this is anything but a rescue drill…
except for the turn : any object thrown in the water could have done the trick… but both kids enjoyed the experience
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.
It can be done even with a short handed crew… but the solution is know your boat, have it ready, and drill, drill, drill all the time !!!…
I know it's not that easy with friends who are here on vacations, but better bother now than sorry later
when I can I'll post my own recovery procedure with my own boat
thank you anyway !!!!
uldics5 years ago
Standard Williamson turn, according to IAMSAR, is first 60 degrees, then 30 degrees. Using hard port/stbd of course.