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Increasing the visibility of a man overboard with a Dan Buoy

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What is the issue?
It is very difficult to spot the head of a crew member in the water in a man overboard (MOB) situation. The crisis will be compounded if the vessel has only two people aboard. With one gone overboard, the other has to deal with the boat whilst maintaining a bearing on the MOB position. The chances that the person in the water will be lost in a challenging seaway are very high.

Why address this?
A MOB is a critical situation where loss of life is highly likely. Anything that can reduce the danger of this event could save a life as the old proverb goes better a thousand times careful than once dead.

How to address this?
A 'Dan Buoy', 'Danbuoy' or 'Man Over Board Pole' attached to the lifebuoy is a useful safety addition to a boat. It can be thrown overboard after the victim has fallen to help mark the area for recovery.

DIY Dan Buoy
Image: Tony Gibson
A Dan Buoy pole floating above the waves provides a highly visible target from the boat, in contrast to the occasionally bobbing head in the water. The person in the water can also see it clearly, make their way to it and use any additional buoyancy the attached lifebuoy provides.

In addition to the lifebuoy, it is advisable that the Dan Buoy should also have an automatic strobe light, whistle and small drogue to stop it blowing away from the victim in the water. Another consideration is to attach a small radar reflecting head that could assist a radar to locate the position of the Dan Buoy and MOB. It is also important to explain to the crew how the Dan Bouy and lifebuoy are deployed in the event of a MOB.

The easiest means of connection is to the backstay. A holding sleeve on top is ideal to push up the head with its flag rolled in, plus a holder for the base unit beneath. These simple holders can be easily fabricated out of a domestic waste pipe.

There are many different options to purchase including inflatable options. The Jonbuoy Recovery Module, for instance, comes in a case that is secured to the pushpit. When required, all that it needs is a tab push to inflate a MOB a floating cradle with an integral danbuoy - see below video - which helps the victim enormously.

Having a Dan Buoy will dramatically increase the likelihood of the MOB being rescued. Yet very few yachts carry one and this is maybe because manufactured Dan Buoys are very expensive items. However, a basic dan buoy can be an easy DIY project, as pictured above, and it can cost a trivial amount of money to make up. Hence it makes no sense not to have one to assist a MOB recovery.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession. Header image with thanks to Sailing SV Delos.

Jonbuoy man overboard deployment and rescue demonstration

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