Symposium; Final Report Now Available Online
Going overboard is every recreational boater's worst nightmare.
Nearly 200 lives were lost in 2004 alone due to falls overboard.
However, if someone does go over the side, a crew that knows
the latest rescue methods and has the right retrieval gear will be
able to make a quick rescue according to a final report from the
Crew Overboard Rescue Symposium now available for free at
At the symposium, held August 9-12, 2005 on San Francisco Bay
and funded in part by the BoatU.S. Foundation, 115 volunteers
conducted almost 400 tests of 40 types of rescue gear and many
Using volunteer "victims" who went into the water, testers
addressed questions like, "What's the best way to make contact
with the victim?", "What methods work best for bringing a
victim back on deck?", "Is there any chance of rescuing an
unconscious victim?", and "Do swim platforms help or hinder
The final report includes information keyed to different types
of power and sailboats involved in a recovery. Also included
is a "lessons learned" section with comments from symposium
organizers, who between them have a total of nearly 200 years of
recreational boating experience.
The report's author, nautical journalist John Rousmaniere and a
member of the organizing committee, said, "Rarely do rescue
equipment and maneuvers undergo this kind of comparative testing
in public trials under conditions that typically prevail when
people fall over the side."
Testing was done on 15 sailboats and powerboats of nearly every
type (including multihulls) in conditions that ranged from flat
seas to 35-knot blows.
Ruth Wood, president of the BoatU.S. Foundation and a member of
the organizing committee, said about the final report, "Everything
we learned was relevant to the average recreational boater, such
as the importance of practicing overboard maneuvers and the
challenges some boat designs present when trying to recover a
We hope that by sharing this easy-to-read report more boaters
will make smarter decisions and improve their chances for
successfully recovering a guest, family member, or crew from the