Yachting Tragedy points to Safety Issues

The tragic ending to a Man Overboard situation in the Tasman Sea last Thursday is a sober lesson for all of us who take to the sea. There are also many of us who could say 'It could so easily have been me!' and have the greatest sympathy with the crew of the Xanthippe. It is believed the three are being skippered back to Lord Howe Island.

If you've ever participated in a Man Overboard training session, you will know just how difficult it is to pull someone back on board from the deck of a sailing boat.

Five aircraft scoured the area about 300 nautical miles off the NSW coast and using sonar equipment located the man's body early the next day about 14 nautical miles north-east of the site of the incident.

The man, who was not wearing a life jacket, was reported to have been sailing with his wife and another couple on the Xanthippe from Lord Howe Island to Australia when he went overboard during the 460 nautical mile voyage. Despite the best efforts of his companions he could not be pulled back on board and was swept away.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman Greg Smith as commenting that how the man went overboard in ``benign' seas was a mystery.

However, those who have sailed for many years know just how easy that can be, and it underlines for the rest of us the importance of practicing safety procedures when at home, and of strictly carrying them out while at sea.