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Falling Leaf – Man Overboard Method Christened.

Jun 22, 2017

Author: Fin

Fintan Hartnett is the Principal and Chief Instructor at Topmast Maritime Training and an RYA Yachtmaster Instructor as well as Sail Canada and ASA instructor.

Before RYA Examiner Dave De Wolfe came out to Kingston from Halifax to examine two of Topmast’s students at the Yachtmaster level we had a phone conversation about the efficacy of various man overboard techniques. It took a few minutes but we both agreed there’s a big difference between theory and reality. Unfortunately, many MOB exercises are great for sail training and wind awareness but will accomplish little in the way of saving anyone’s life.

For years back in South Africa I introduced students to the ‘stop-quick-hove-to-get-the-engine-on-use-forward-and-astern-until-stopped-alongside-the-casualty’ method. It’s very workable in most conditions and doesn’t require a crew of five to implement. It took poor Dave a minute or two to figure out what I was talking about but eventually he chimed in with an “oh, you mean the falling leaf method,” an that was it – finally a name.

Not only is it a name but it’s a good (if not slightly Karate Kid sounding) descriptive name, because the maneuver actually resembles a leaf falling from a tree (well I guess you have to see it). So thanks to Dave I can now sound a little more sane when I’m teaching MOB’s.

Hopefully one of these days I’ll find time to film the exercise and get it up on the website, in the meantime you’ll just have to come take a course at Topmast and learn it for yourself:)

Fair Winds


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