The crash stop, or quick stop, is a man overboard tactic for sailboats, and it could very well save your crew’s life!
Typically people are taught various MOB (man overboard) maneuvers in sailing schools. The most popular in some schools is the figure eight. However, this MOB maneuver is slow and takes the sailboat away from the MOB.
The crash stop, or quick stop maneuver, keep the vessel as close as possible to the a man overboard, and maintains a safe distance for heavy seas.
What is the Crash Stop?
If a crewmember goes overboard, it will likely be at the worst time and in weather or seas that are not conducive to lengthy sailing maneuvers. That means visibility will be poor. Distractions and reaction time both create hazardous conditions. Spotting and finding the MOB is the first priority.
That’s why the crash stop man over board recovery works in all situations and requires only one crew member and no sail trimming – there’s a reason it’s called the quick stop.
The crash stop uses a quick heave to, jib, and recover method. This MOB method keeps the crewmember and sailboat close together the entire time.
How Execute the Crash Stop MOB Recovery
The crash stop method offers the huge benefit of keeping boat and man overboard close together throughout the affair (Fig 30.2). This is what you do:
- Heave To. As soon as your man goes over the side, tack the boat without touching the headsail sheets. This will backwind the jib and put you into a heave to.
- Gybe (jibe). Now turn downwind to the MOB. This will cause the main to jibe, so you can center the main if you’re able to, but it’s not necessary. Sails will be flogging and in disarray, but the sailboat will be settling down close to the MOB.
- Sail or motor sail within 20-50 feet of the MOB, and use a throw rope to pull the man overboard to the vessel.
Tips for the Quick Stop MOB Method
The method is quick, but the first step – heaving to – can be aggressive. If you’re sailing any angle larger than 60 degrees to the wind, you will be turning up quickly, and the boat will likely heel aggressively. The sails will also make a fuss throughout this MOB procedure, but the benefit of staying within close line of sight to the MOB is worth it.
Here are a few tips for the quick stop MOB method.
- Gather Your Wits. During the heave-to, you can ease the main and let the sail luff, or trim it tight to ensure you remain hove-to. Once hove-to, the entire scenario slows down and world stops spinning. Use this time to give commands or gather your wits, if needed.
- Crabbing Back. During the heave-to, your sailboat will slowly crab backwards toward the MOB. During a seastate, the slick created by your boat can help calm breaking waves.
- Use the Motor. After heaving to, you can turn on the motor to finish the MOB maneuver by motor sailing through the jibe back to the crew member.
- Watch for Lines. Before turning on the motor, check to ensure all lines are clear of the prop.
- Throw a Line. There are some nifty MOB contraptions on the market, but it’s often easiest and safest to simply throw a line. Avoid striking the MOB with your vessel at all costs!
- Sail Safely. The entire MOB scenario is complicated if you sail overcanvassed or overpowered. Keep the main safely reefed to ensure your boat is sailing the way it is designed to be sailed for the seastate and weather conditions.
Videos Showing the Crash Stop Man Overboard
The MOB video below moves through the heave to position quickly and goes straight downwind to the gybe. There’s no reason to waste time in the heave-to position if time is not needed. However, being hove-to allows you time to spot the MOB, if the situation needs it.
We filmed the Quick Stop method of getting back to a man overboard from a drone. This one is recommended by RORC and other bodies, but somewhat controversially involves a gybe and picking up the casualty to windward.
The next crash stop video gives a few details that may be helpful in certain scenarios. It recommends maintaining a 2-4 boat length distance while hove-to before circling back. Some points to consider are approaching the MOB on close reach versus motor sailing upwind to the overboard crewmember.
Whiteboard Presentation Tips and Tricks for the Quick Stop (Person Overboard) Rescue for DSC J/22s