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Herb Mosher of Orchard Park, NY, asks:

When it's necessary for a crewman to be on deck, are they harnessed in as on sailboats? And if not, are they required to wear a PFD with an EPIRB?

Dan Streech responds:

So far, we have not used harnesses aboard NORDHAVN. The protocol aboard a power cruiser is quite a bit different than a sailboat. As we all know, it is necessary to conduct sail changes, rigging adjustments and reefing on the foredeck of a sailboat - usually because the weather is worsening. This is the very time that the boat is heeling and the deck is pitching and wet. It can be quite dangerous.

Assuming that the vessel has been prepared properly, there is no reason for one aboard a well-found power cruiser to venture on deck forward of the Portuguese Bridge during rough weather. This advantage, together with the fact that one tends to be less exhausted and sleep deprived, makes a power cruiser - in my mind - much safer than a sailboat.

In 1970, I cruised on our family sailboat which was a tired and leaky (and in retrospect) dangerous old Alden yawl built in 1926. We hand steered that boat from Marina del Rey, California to Ft. Lauderdale over a period of about 7 months and encountered every kind of misery you can imagine from being lost, wet, cold, dirty, terrified, hit in the head with the boom and nearly being swept overboard. We wore harnesses and foul weather gear. Last year, I made part of the same trip in a Nordhavn 62 and was in the lap of luxury sitting in the pilothouse in air conditioned comfort with computer charting, DVD movies, a washer/dryer, an endless supply of water, hot showers and long periods of time off for sleeping (free of dread).

Modern sailboats don't need to be as primitive and miserable as our old "Malabar", but as a rule, they aren't as comfortable and safe as a well designed and built and well prepared power cruiser.

The above said, one should wear a PFD if they are going on the foredeck of a power cruiser in rough weather and should also wear a harness in very rough weather. The key is to avoid the need to go on the foredeck in those conditions.

 

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