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Prepare for Overboard Recovery with the “Elevator” Technique

Just the thought of falling overboard scares most sailors into a “stay-aboard-at-all-costs” mindset. And yet this most serious of sailing emergencies does happen now and then.

Recovery will be tough no matter what the marine weather conditions. Use these steps to prepare your small cruising sailboat ahead of time with one little-known method that could be the perfect solution to this super difficult task when short-handed sailing!




Get your small cruising sailboat ready now to put the elevator recovery technique into action if your sailing crew or partner falls into the water. Use the elevator technique in light to moderate sailing weather conditions. This recovery technique requires that the person in the water is fully conscious and in good shape.

Make sure that the person in the water has on a personal flotation device (pfd) before you start the alongside recovery process. The pfd will protect them in and out of the water. As they brace against the side, it will give some protection from bumps against the hull and sharp edges like toe rails or Genoa tracks as you winch them aboard.

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