LETTERS when the water is colder and there aren't as many people on their boats to hear shouts for help.
⇑⇓MAN OVERBOARD SYSTEM FOR DUMMIES Regarding the problem of getting out of the water if you fall in at a marina, there is a solution. It's called the Idiot's Loop, and while it's older than the hills, it works. I've read many articles in Latitude about people going overboard, both at sea and at the dock, but I've never heard the Idiot's Loop mentioned. But I used it all the time when I was living aboard my Traveller 32 on the hook. The loop works for all overboard situations, on boats big or small, moving or still, crewed or singlehanded, sailing, or motoring, on the hook, or tied up in a slip. I don't know why everybody doesn't use it, although some have said that it's "ugly." An Idiot's Loop is a long line over the side that runs from the bow to stern, looped down and tied to an amidships cleat or chainplate on one or both sides of the boat. It droops down
Bill Brunot's sketch for his 'Idiot's Loop'.
to just barely above the surface of water twice along the length of the boat. You will see the same system used, but with many more loops, on lifeboats and other rescue boats. With the drooping line system of an Idiot's Loop, you can grab the line and hang on, or you can get a leg over the loop and haul yourself up to a sitting position on the line, rest, then pull yourself the rest of the way out of the water. It even works if you are weak, injured, or dressed in heavy clothing, or are tangled up in the rigging. And it works even if you're by yourself. That's because the line runs the whole length of your boat, and your body weight is almost nothing when your body is horizontal in the water. I also used the Idiot's Loop for something easy to grab when returning to my boat in the dinghy when the sea was up. I once fell overboard through the ice at a dock in winter. Even though I was a young and strong swimmer, it was an immediately serious matter. The guy on my boat didn't know where I'd disappeared to, and I quickly became weak. Had I had an Idiot's Loop rigged, it's wouldn't have been a problem. I think the Idiot's Loop should be in every book about seamanship. Bill Brunot Planet Earth Bill — It sounds great in theory, but are you sure it works so well in reality? Even in the still waters of a marina, it seems as if it would require a lot of upper body strength to pull oneself up such a rope, even to the sitting position. And we can only wonder at the beating users might take if they were sitting on such a loop while their boat was in a seaway. If someone — preferably in the tropics — would like to give the Idiot's Loop a try, we'd be interested in the results. We're willing to bet that Page 26 •
• May, 2010
The May 2010 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.