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How Sailing’s Man Overboard Strategy can Help Your Life

Evgenia Romanenko, Director of Dream Yacht Charter Russia and ambassador #MoreWomenAtSea in Russia, shared with us her sailing experience and how sailing practice can help your life onshore too…

I have been sailing for five years as a crew member when I decided to get a sailing license. I love holidays at sea with all my heart and to be a yacht captain was my dream.

Volunteering for the hard job

My training course was held in Hamble, Southampton, UK. This is a great place to explore sailing thanks to the currents and tides. It was the middle of October and was cold outside (around 8ºC) and the water, of course, was even colder.

When I got my yacht license, John, my instructor, warned us that we would be learning how to rescue a person who fell overboard.

He said: “So, we will need a volunteer. It is better if it was Ross, our youngest and most energetic participant, because he has a better chance of holding out longer in cold water, or it can be a girl, who will be saved much faster.”

I was freezing on the deck in a red hat like Jacques Yves Cousteau, and when I finally froze (all over my head), I made a decision. If someone should now become a volunteer, then let it be me! The experience would help me dive deep into the subject, literally, and I would understand how a person feels in such a situation. It would also be an unforgettable adventure!

I said to the instructor that I could jump in the water. He was very surprised and puzzled, said that it was a joke and that it was forbidden to jump into the water. I said that I was joking too (but I wasn’t), and John followed me all the time and kept an eye on me, the “brave Russian captain”.  

Survival tactics

For the training exercise, we threw overboard a basket with tied fenders. John told us what the man who fell overboard would feel: “The first 30-40 seconds for the victim is icy shock. The body and brain don’t listen. If a person immediately tries to do something, it is at this time that he makes the most mistakes and instead of being saved, he sinks. This is mostly because he begins to flounder senselessly in a panic, wasting all his strength, losing his breath and after that it is very difficult to recover.

“The best thing to do in this situation is to relax and allow your body to get used to the water. If you don’t panic and don’t resist, you can quickly adapt and then your chances of salvation increase dramatically. Then act on the situation, depending on what surrounds you.”

Applying sailing strategy to general life

I find that all these sea rules are absolutely suitable for all occasions. When you “fall out of your boat” in business or have lost your way in life, it is best not to make a decision in a state of “ice shock”. Instead, take time to relax and accept the situation and only then weighing all the pros and cons to start acting. 

Apply sea rules in your life on the shore and be the captains of your life. In the meantime, if I fall overboard then I hope it is somewhere warm, such as in the Caribbean!


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