One of the Scariest Things in Sailing! Crew Overboard…

Recovering a Crew Overboard on a Sailboat:

One of the most terrifying situations any sailor will ever face, is losing a crew-member overboard. Hearing those dreaded words yelled, “crew overboard!”

If someone falls overboard in stormy conditions or at night time, finding them in the dark and getting them back aboard can be incredibly challenging and difficult.

Always make sure a couple of people on your boat know how to drop the sails, turn on the engine, and execute a crew overboard drill, as this could be the difference between life and death.

You would be amazed at how many people take friends and family out sailing, and only the captain knows how to do this drill!

Tragedy at sea

There was a horrible incident that happened several years ago, with a young cruising couple off the coast of Mexico. They had been cruising on their sailboat for several months, and she had never learned how to drop the sails, turn on the engine and do a crew overboard drill. He fell off the boat on passage, and she had no idea what to do! While she was able to call a Mayday, but there were no other boats in the vicinity to assist. Her husband was never seen again.

On Nautilus Sailing’s live aboard sailing courses, we teach the easiest and simplest way to recover a man overboard. This involves dropping or furling your sails, turning on your engine, and doing the following maneuver. This is by far the simplest way to recover someone, and you have much more control than you would have under sail.

Certainly, there are some great ways to recover a crew overboard under sail, but in most situations, this can be very hard to execute.

Practice, Practice, Practice

We highly recommend you practice this drill often, even when you just take a sailboat out for a day sail. Nautilus runs amazing flotillas, offshore deliveries and sailing adventures for their alumni. Whenever we run one of these trips, as soon as we leave the marina, we have every boat do a couple of MOB drills. You have to be prepared!

Nautilus Sailing video lesson on how to perform a man overboard drill

Sailing Basics Video Series

Did you enjoy this video lesson? Whether your are new to sailing or are you an experienced sailor looking to improve, we created a comprehensive basic sailing video series just for you! We know how difficult it is to find solid answers to your questions related to sailing fundamentals. As professional sailing instructors, we get it, and since we cover these topics regularly with our students, we knew we could help you too.

We created these Learn How To Sail: Sailing Basics videos, to be your ultimate sailing 101 video series. In them, we cover sailing for beginners from anchoring, to steps for recovering a man overboard, all the way up to perfect sail trim! Here is the link to see all of our FREE video lessons:

Sailing Basics Video Series

Live Aboard Sailing Courses

Think you are ready for the next step, and want to get practical, hands on sailing experience? Nautilus Sailing is an award winning American Sailing Association school, specializing in week long live aboard sailing courses. Click here to find out more about our incredible destinations and live aboard course experiences.




One of the Scariest Things in Sailing! Crew Overboard…

The only way to join our tribe is to learn to sail with Nautilus.

We’re really careful to make sure that we know and trust anyone coming on one of our special trips.

Join us on flotillas, offshore deliveries, free webinars and unforgettable sailing adventures around the world. Join the Tribe.