Marcel Tremblay, pictured trimming the spinnaker during this year’s SoCal 300 ocean race on Prevail (a SANTA Cruz 52), was wearing an Ocean Signal rescueME MOB1 when he fell overboard

The importance of wearing his Ocean Signal rescueME MOB1 was demonstrated beyond doubt to experienced sailor Marcel Tremblay this spring when he fell overboard in calm and clear conditions while sailing from Santa Barbara, CA, to the Channel Islands.

After plunging into the water mid-way during the 22-mile sail, the compact man overboard AIS device with integrated DSC attached to his Spinlock harness activated immediately to initiate a perfectly executed rescue by his fellow crew onboard the Santa Cruz 52.

Marcel, who had bought the unit two years ago for the 2017 Transpac race to Hawaii, was back onboard in around just five minutes, which impressed the rest of the team so much that they all invested in buying a rescueME MOB1 after the incident. Ready for his planned participation in this year’s Transpac in July, Marcel also made sure he obtained his free replacement unit from manufacturers Ocean Signal to be fully equipped for the 2,225nm open ocean race.

Marcel, who is Director of Mechanical Engineering at FLIR Systems, said: “It was a clear day with only 10 knots of wind and I had run to the bow of the boat with the spinnaker bag in my hand, which prevented me seeing where I was stepping. I tripped on a line and fell off the boat as my hand was holding the bag.

“The good news is that as soon as I was in the water, my Spinlock harness deployed as expected, as well as the MOB1. I could hear the alarm on the boat beeping right away while looking at the boat sailing away from me.

“I did not feel in a life danger situation as it was daytime, but I did feel really secure knowing that they had my location. I was also very proud of myself to have bought a unit two years ago. I had programmed it to the AIS number of the boat, installed it in my harness and forgot about it, knowing that it was there to look after me. Two years later, it did work as expected.

“I was also surprised to see how quick the boat sailed away from me. You feel alone in the ocean right way. I looked to my right and left side to see the shore and the island about 10 miles away from me and I very quickly realized that my only chance of survival was the boat and the boys knowing what to do. Lucky enough the boys are all very good and experienced sailors. I was back on the boat in about five minutes.

“Falling off the boat can happen so quickly and having done that in the middle of the night with 30 knots of wind would have been another story – the water is cold here which does not give you a lot of hours before going into hyperthermia.

“The owner of the boat was also impressed by the quick response of the unit to the boat electronics. My location was on the Raymarine chart plotter right away. The radio got the MOB alarm activated and the coast guard even called to double check if everything was ok.

“It is in real life experiences that the unit really shines.”

Ocean Signal provides a free replacement beacon for all owners of its rescueME and SafeSea devices who activate their PLB, MOB or EPIRB in an emergency.