Slipping and Falling
Even in calm, dry weather, decks can be slippery- salt incrustations attract moisture. Plastic decks can be especially dangerous because they are smooth and do not absorb moisture; the molded anti-skid pattern traps evaporated salt in the indentations.
In contrast, unfinished teak absorbs moisture and presents one of the best non-skid surfaces, wet or dry. A number of aggressive non-skid patterns and coatings are uncomfortable for bare feet, remember one rule of thumb of the careful boater: Wear deck shoes at all times, especially when underway.
Relieving Over the Side
One of the most common causes of COB and subsequently drowning is a crew member relieving himself over the side of the boat in a standing position. Avoid this disaster; go below and use the head.
Safety Equipment Failure
When equipment is undersized, old or worn, it can be worse than no equipment at all: It provides a false sense of security. Lifelines, harness tethers, fittings and snaps should be inspected regularly for wear and corrosion, as well as proof-tested for 3,000 pounds- the shock load of a crew member projected in the lifelines, falling overboard and dragging in water.
The Importance of COB Drills
Unfortunately, despite all preventive efforts, accidents can still occur. The need for crew-overboard drills cannot be emphasized enough. Your entire crew should practice the maneuver until recovery is second nature.
Practice often first with a floating cushion, then with a swimmer and another boat standing by. These drills can often make the difference between a tragedy and a mishap on the water.
With practice and the right equipment, you can safely and quickly recover someone who has fallen overboard. Crew-Over-Board procedures should be practiced at the beginning of every boating season and from time to time over the course of the boating season.
Doing so may save someone's life- even your own!