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Tommy J’s Favorites – MOB Recovery Gear

Here is the latest from our friend Tom Jarvis of San Diego Marine Exchange on a very important safety topic, Man-Over Board Recovery devices.  ENJOY!

SOS Marine

Just Marine manufactures and distributes Man-Over Board Recovery devices designed to get the victim back into the boat as quickly and safely as possible. There are three devices I wanted to bring to your attention, the Recovery Ladder, Reelsling, and the Dan Buoy

The Recovery Ladder/Supine Hoist is dual purpose MOB recovery device that allows the victim to climb aboard the vessel on their own mobility with the ladder function or to be hoisted aboard in a supine position utilizing the 2:1 mechanical advantage.  The material is a day-glow polyester mesh, fabricated to withstand the harshest environments.  This Recovery Ladder was nominated for the DAME award at the 2015 METSTRADE Show.  (The DAME Design Award – the most prestigious international design competition for new marine equipment and accessories – celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015! Over the past 25 years, independently appointed judges examined thousands of products in specific marine categories. The DAME Design Award has come to set the pace for new concepts and designs in the worldwide leisure marine industry. Participation in DAME Awards is exclusively reserved to METSTRADE exhibitors.)  The ladder function has rigid yet soft rungs that allow for an easy exit from the water to the vessel and the mesh material is strong and soft enough to remove a victim from the water in a supine position with the assistance of a halyard or a davit with a block and tackle set up.  There are three points of connection to the vessel.  Two at the base of the device that would be secured to cleats, toe-rail, through hawse pipes to cleats and the third at the apex of the Recovery Ladder to hoist the victim in via block and tackle attached to a halyard or davit. 

The Reelsling is designed to retrieve a conscious overboard crew member quickly and easily back onboard.  The “U-Shaped” float provides 21 pounds of buoyancy, has reflective tape, stainless steel D rings (doubles as lifting harness), sturdy grab handle and a whistle.  There is 160 feet (49 m) of floating line that has a reflective tracer laced into this non water absorbing line.  The Reelsling is stowed in a White PVC bag with Velcro closures and it has easy to follow instructions for deploying this very effective device printed on the outside of the bag.  The PVC bag is designed to be attached to the vessels stern stanchion with four points of attachment.

The SOS Dan Buoy product is a well thought out alternative to the Traditional Man Over-Board (M.O.B.) system available today.  This safety device takes up less space and it is easier to deploy than any other system I have seen to date.  The dimensions of this small package are; 8 inches wide by 12 inches long by 2 inches thick, and it weighs approximately 10 pounds.  Just throw the Dan Buoy; it is light enough and small enough for a child to deploy.  This is a water activated automatic inflating package that is fully inflated in 6 to 7 seconds.  When inflated, a 6 foot day-glow tower with a SOLAS strobe light and an 8 foot ribbon attached to the top of the tower are highly visible.  In addition to the strobe light and ribbon there are several other “life saving” considerations attached to this unit.  An oversized drogue (designed to keep the Dan Buoy stationary to the area it was deployed), a whistle (to alert rescuers to your location), nylon straps for arm supports (the Dan Buoy provides enough floatation for an adult), reflective tape for search lights, and a lanyard for attaching to other floatation devices.  The Dan Buoy meets the US Sailing and ISAF rules for offshore racing, and it requires NO annual service fees for inspection.  The Dan Buoy can be re-packaged by the owner and the self inflating CO2 cartridge can be reinstalled as well.  This then provides for multiple deployments without having to have the entire unit sent to a certified Coast Guard approved re-packaging service location after just one deployment.  The boat owner simply purchases the CO2 recharging kits and does the repacking themselves.  The Dan Buoy makes boating so much safer.

Just Marine has developed these retrieval MOB devices to allow the boating community a safe and easy way to save a crew member from prolonged water exposure and potential hypothermia.

One of the most common misconceptions about cold water immersion is that it does lead to immediate hypothermia.  This is not what happens.  There are other events that occur prior to hypothermia.  There are actually four phases of physiological challenges prior to hypothermia, according to Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht of the University of Manitoba in Canada.  Dr. Giesbrecht teaches a cold water boot camp which provides the student with the training to survive cold water immersion.  The first of the four phases is Cold Shock Response.

Cold Shock Response is the first phase the victim goes through when entering the cold water.  This lasts for only about a minute after entering the water and it affects the person’s breathing.  At first there is the automatic gasp reflex as the body goes through rapid cooling in the ice cold water.  If the head goes under during this gasp reflex the victim could breathe in water and drown or go into a coughing spasm weakening their survival chances.  That is one of the many benefits of wearing a life jacket or PFD, it helps keep your head above the water.  Another component of the Cold Shock Response is the hyperventilation that occurs as a natural response to the cold water.  This is a critical time to concentrate to keep yourself calm and slow down your breathing and control your response to the cold water.  If hyperventilation continues it can lead to the victim fainting, so controlling the breathing is important.  Another response to the cold is that the arteries narrow, vasoconstriction, and the heart has to work harder to pump the same amount of blood throughout the body.  For some people with heart conditions this can lead to cardiac arrest. The second phase is the Cold Incapacitation.

Cold Incapacitation occurs approximately within 5 to 15 minutes in cold water.  Due to the vasoconstriction and the decreased blood flow to the extremities the muscles and nerve fibers do not work well when cold.  During this time the victim may lose movement of their hands, feet, and then arms and legs critically crippling the person’s ability to stay afloat.  This condition is another important reason to be wearing a life jacket or PFD.

Hypothermia may take as long as 30 minutes (depending on body mass and water temperature) before it starts to take effect on a crew member in icy water.  Knowing this may give the victim time to strategize and control their panic response to their condition.  

Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht’s table of Hypothermia Stages:

Stage of Hypothermia

Body Temperature

In Water Duration



35 C   95F

>  30 minutes




32 C   89.6F


30-120 minutes

Unconscious will drown without floatation


28 C   82.4

90-180 minutes

Cooling to Cardiac Arrest


Circum-Rescue-Collapse is a condition that can occur during or after rescue with symptoms ranging from fainting to death.  When you are in icy water you are fighting to stay alive.  Your body is in a heightened stage where stress hormones are surging through your body helping you to fight off the cold effects and survive.  Once you know that your rescue is imminent and in progress or has just taken place, your mind goes into relaxation which creates less stress hormones and the blood pressure can drop.  The muscles can fail causing the victim to collapse and in some extreme cases go into cardiac arrest and death may follow.  The key point that Dr. Giesbrecht is suggesting, is that it is important to remember the victim’s heart is dramatically impacted by the way the victim is handled and removed from the water.  The extraction procedure is critical.  Some studies have shown that it is best to remove a victim in the supine position from the icy water and then have the victim remain in that position until the body temperature gradually gets warmer.  This was determined after several cases revealed that a victim exposed to icy water for a length of time and then was recovered and once aboard the vessel the victim stood upright and walked around went into cardiac arrest.  So, to be safe keep the victim supine and warm the body and provide medical attention where needed.

Check out Just Marine’s Website for all their products at and also go to Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht’s website for further information on cold water immersion at .








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