Falling off a sailboat: Part 2

Man Overboard: How to survive

We began the story of our friend falling off a sailboat in last week’s post where we left Nige floating in a cruel sea hoping the tiger sharks wouldn’t notice him.

Nige is a solo sailor, so when his sailboat SY Bison rocketed away over the horizon with his cat “Stinky” on board, he knew no-one was coming back for him.

Falling off a sailboat

Position of MOB and SY Bison

All he could do was try to stay alive until help came.

One of the main reasons Nige survived is that he was wearing an Ocean Signal RESCUEME PLB1 Personal Locator Beacon. Keep reading to find out how you can win a free PLB1.

His boat’s position was being broadcast every hour through the Iridium Go system he has on board. But it showed SY Bison drifting further away in the other direction.

When the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) observed both signals, they realised it was clearly a story of man overboard.

But the odds of finding him were low, it was going to be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Falling off a sailboat

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Nige was too far offshore for a helicopter rescue and there were no ships in the vicinity, so AMSA sent a Challenger jet to look for him. First of all they had to spot him, not an easy task when you’re flying at 300kph.

While he drifted in the waves, hoping that Search and Rescue were on their way, Nige was kept alive by his Spinlock Deckvest 6D 170N Lifejacket with integral hood. Keep reading to find out how you can win one of these excellent life jackets.

The main reason people drown after falling overboard while wearing a life vest is the secondary threat from sea spray – without a decent hood you stand no chance of survival.

Falling off a sailboat

Nige is that needle in a haystack

ViDAR detection technology is specifically used to find life rafts and people lost at sea. It is the world’s first optical radar, developed in Australia by Sentient Vision. It detects colours and shapes against the water and it was thanks to Nige’s bright jacket that they were able to locate him. Even so, he was just a single pixel on the screen, disappearing behind waves.

Falling off a sailboat

Life raft fired from the aircraft

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Life raft parachute deploys

Having found him, the next thing was to drop a life raft within grabbing distance. The jet pinpointed the best location from which to make the drop by undertaking a series of fly-bys. This built a map of prevailing winds, sea state and the effects of the current.

“A successful drop and an unsuccessful drop is separated only by a matter of three to four seconds” – Ollie Marin, Aircraft Mission Co-ordinator, AMSA

Although by now the seas had calmed, Nige was exhausted. Pulling himself through the sea to get to the life-raft with two broken ribs, was taking its toll.

If you are familiar with followtheboat you may remember a few years ago we launched our old life raft in a swimming pool, donned our oillies and practised getting into it.

Even without life jackets the exercise was surprisingly difficult in a flat swimming pool. Try to imagine how much more difficult this is after a traumatic ordeal in the open sea with fatigue setting in.

Falling off a sailboat

Life raft deployed

There are so many lessons to be learned from Nige’s experience, not least that we have to invest in two Personal Locator Beacons as a matter of urgency. We might just add two personal AIS units too.


In Part 2 we show the rescue in action. And we listen to Nige’s story in his own words: how he dealt with the trauma of being in the water for so long and how he coped with the mental pressure.

We discuss the lessons his experience has taught us. And, in case you’re wondering what happened to his sailboat and cat, we cover that off too…

Click here:

Spread the word and save a life

We think every sailor should be aware of what happened to Nige and how he he was rescued.

Please share this post and the previous one on social media and with anyone you know who sails, we are sure they will appreciate the read.

Read Nigels’ first-hand account in YACHTING MONTHLY

And take a look at Yachting World’s essential list of the Best personal locator beacons and AIS units

How to win safety gear

To be in with a chance of winning a Spinlock Life-Vest or an Ocean Signal PLB1 you must leave a comment UNDER THE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE by Sunday 25th July.

Falling off a sailboat

Spinlock Deckvest 6D 170N

These fantastic life jackets are available to buy now. Please use one of our affiliate links, it won’t cost you any more but helps us a tiny bit:

For more information on Spinlock products, check out the website

Ocean Signal Personal Locator Beacon PLB1

Ocean Signal’s PLB1 saved Nige’s life and we will be buying two for ourselves. It comes programmed for:

Falling off a sailboatPredictWind, that fantastic piece of kit for weather reporting on any true sailing vessel, is giving a 15% discount to our viewers on any weather package purchased through their website.

Details of how to grab this unique offer are in our video description on YouTube.


Thanks for coming along for the ride with us (and Nige).

Peace and fair winds!
Liz and Jamie xx

Falling off a sailboat


Falling off a sailboat

Nige with the SAR team

#spinlock #oceansignal #predictwind

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