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Ring buoy man overboard

What to do when MAN OVERBOARD

on August 15, 2021

Planning a sailing trip or a boat ride alongside family and friends? A person falls into the rough sea what do you do? Avoid casualty, man overboard could be life-threatening, be prepared and you could save a life!

man in sea


A man overboard is a scary situation for anyone on board, and it happens more often than you might think. The best way to ensure that someone who goes overboard will survive is to be prepared with the right gear and know what steps to take in the event of an emergency. This blog post will teach you everything you need to know about how to react when a MOB occurs while boating or fishing so that everyone can return home safely.

Man Overboard

Man overboard is (a person in the water) a person who falls overboard is called mob

When a person falls overboard it is vital to understand the procedure of the rescue mission, and the recovery of the victim is important and all crew members must practice the recovery drill out at sea. The practice to rescue a victim is a safety procedure that must be followed by each crew, member aboard. Practice the right method, bring that man back aboard, and avoid casualty! When we find ourselves in a man overboard situation while out boating, we need to be prepared.

This blog is all about what to do when: Man overboard (MOB), what to do if you fall victim to the man overboard (MOB), causes, and how to avoid it.

Before we start, let's look at the Four rescues "A's" keep in mind that you need to be calm in every situation; it is natural to go into stress mode; however, keeping it under control is vital. Never lose sight of the situation stay focused.

Awareness – Recognizing the emergency and be aware of your surroundings.

Assessment – Risk assessment, look at your surrounding and making a judgment call.

Action – Plan of action (rescue) stay calm during the recovery.

Aftercare – Medical care until help arrives


What to do when (MOB) man overboard: Step by Step

  1. Alert the captain and the crew: First person to notice man overboard, shout "MAN OVERBOARD!" as loud as you can! And continuously point in the direction of the MOB followed by screaming out loud the location: Portside (the left side of the boat), Starboard (the right side), Bow refers to the front of the vessel, and stern refers to the back of the boat, continue pointing in the direction of the person overboard.
  2. When there are other boats in the area, lift a red flag so that all other boaters know the situation.
  3. If you do not see the person/victim or the victim is at the boat's stern, the engine must be switch off immediately to prevent the propeller from injuring the victim.
  4. If you have a marine GPS device, press the MOB button on the GPS. Every marine GPS has a mob button.
  5. Distress signal: Sending out a distress signal will ensure that help is on the way; if assistance is not needed, cancel the distress call. The distress call is done over the VHF radio and the mob button which send out a signal to the coast guard.
  6. Throw in marker buoy followed by the lifebuoy (flotation device) whether you see the person or not throw in the lifebuoy, as the person in the water (mob) might see the flotation even if you can't see him/her.
  7. Turn the boat towards the side from which the MOB fell. This procedure is done to reduce the risk of the person getting hit by the propeller of the vessel. A propeller can be extremely dangerous even fatal so it is extremely important to safely position the boat. The skipper is the man in charge to position the boat safely.
  8. Approach the victim, throw in the rope to pull the victim towards the boat. (Engine should be in neutral or off at this point.)  
  9. Getting the victim aboard: If the victim can climb, they should use the ladder/rudder; if not, use rope/line under the victim's arms to lift the victim out of the water or if you can reach the victim, pull them up by the arm. 
  10. A strong swimmer onboard can also jump in the water to save a victim when they are not responsive; however, you should be wearing a life jacket and tethered to the boat. (This rescue attempt is the last resort)
  11. Use a dry blanket to cover the victim; remove wet clothes if possible. Keep an eye on the victim while waiting for emergency service.


When the water is rough, you can easily lose sight of the person in the water, that is why it is important to point in the direction shout man overboard to alert the crew, every crew member aboard understands the recovery mission, one will throw in the lifebuoy, one will point out the position, one will make a mayday call to alert the coast guard over the VHF radio, and press the mob button, every person aboard will have a job to do, once the person is back aboard doing a propper examination is necessary!

Practice the man overboard drill, everyone aboard should know their responsibility in a man overboard situation. Point out the location of the marine lifebuoys and safety equipment. Explain the process and method used for the rescue mission. Do a quick drill pointing out every step of the recovery!

Man over boars safety equipment

What to do when you are the MOB

  • Stay alive and keep your head above water.
  • Stay calm, do not kick and splash in the water as this will take up energy.
  • If you do have your life jacket on, you need to lie on your back, extend your arms to the side, let your legs float up.
  • If you are not wearing your life jacket, you need to do the survival float, known as the dead-man's float. Please take a deep breath, put your head into the water, relax your body let it hang. Your head should move to the surface of the water; the back of your head is the only part of your body that is on the surface of the water; when you need to breathe, pick up your head and inhale, slowly use your arms and legs to stay afloat.


How to avoid MOB situations

  • If you are sailing solo, you need a safety harness to connect it to your life jacket. Before you sail away into the sea, you should advise the coast guard of the course you plan to sail. Always plan out the course you want to take prior to your sailing trip, don't be the person to sail where ever the wind takes you. advising the course you are taking, could make it easy for the search team to find you in case you get lost.
  • If you are the passenger, try not to be on the boat's side, especially if you are on a cruise ship.
  • Be aware and vigilant of your surroundings.
  • Alcohol use is a big contributor to a man overboard.
  • Find a secure place to hold onto the boat.
  • Take reasonable care to ensure your safety.
  • Avoid slippery deck due to rain or other factors.
  • Prepare your guest for this situation; create awareness.


What causes MOB (Man Overboard?)

There are various reasons for MOB; it can happen to anyone at any time. Listed below are the most common causes of MOB; looking at the list will also help you avoid such an incident.

  • Slippery Decks due to rain, water on deck caused by waves, spray, swimmers climbing on and off the boat.
  • Unexpected Wakes caused passing vessels.
  • Sudden Changes In Direction 
  • Low Gunwales – When fishing, reaching, leaning against a low side can cause a loss of balance.
  • Alcohol Consumption – Loss of balance and not clear judgment 
  • Not Using Secure Handholds – moving around without holding on to the boat.
  • Rough seas, large waves, etc.
  • Poor visibility. 


 Safety equipment is vital every boat must be fully equipped with the necessary safety gear! The equipment must be visible and should be pointed out to all crew members and passengers.

When a person falls off the boat into the water, the water temperature is cold, and depending on the time duration, the victim might get hypothermia, so check out our blog below with all safety equipment listed!!

What safety equipment do you need on your boat in case of emergencies? – Marine Supplies US


Products for you:


Life jacket / Life vest

Acr-survival-res-q-whistle: attach this to your Life jacket.

mustang-30-life-ringThrow bag

Floating devicespersonal-locator-beacons

MOB smart find – must be attached to a life jacket.

 Man over boars safety gear


Man overboard is a scary and stressful situation; most of the time, people do not think about this, and why would you? Negative thoughts and fear are not what you want; however, it is a stress frenzy when it happens, and everyone fears for the worst. Being prepared for such a situation and creating awareness is not being negative; at the end of the day, if you prepare and create awareness, then the chances of it happening are less, and everyone will know what to do and how to handle the situation.


Marine safety is the number one concern, at Marine Supplies US we offer boat products and boat accessories to ensure your safety and we provide you with educational blogs that can be of great assistance in any emergency situation.  


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