MOB Kit – Duncan Wells Lifesaver for your lifejacket.

Duncan Wells Lifesaver.

There is a great website on the Duncan Wells Lifesaver with much more information on the lifesaver itself.  You can see his videos from the boats show.   Visit for more information.  Also, you can search for "Duncan Wells Lifesaver" on Youtube and see his latest videos.

The Duncan Wells Lifesaver is 3m of yellow Dyneema spliced into a large loop making it easy for you to grab with a boat hook.

Duncan Wells Lifesaver

Duncan Wells Lifesaver packs into your lifejacket.

One end is made into a triangle with a red plastic tube which holds the loop open makes it easy for you to hook with a boat hook.  The other end connects to the lifting strop on your lifejacket.  You simply fold the rope over the bladder of your lifejacket so that when it inflates the Lifesaver floats out onto the water.

Duncan Wells Lifesaver

It connects to the lifting strop on your harness.

Duncan Wells Lifesaver

It attaches really easy - just loop it on.

The MOB doesn't have to do anything.

The rescuer can hook any part of the rope with a boat hook and then bring it up to deck level.  Whilst they are sorting halyards etc out, it secures the MOB to the yacht, and then when they are ready they tie it onto the end and used to lift the MOB out.

Duncan Wells Lifesaver

The 3m Dyneema loop floats free

Picture of the Duncan Wells Yachtsman lifejacket accessory on a plain white background

The end is formed into a triangle to make it easy to grab.

Duncan's website has a video clip showing how easy it is to rig it as a horizontal lift by adding an extra stop under the knees.  It's a really simple idea that works well, is cheap and is fit and forget.  I have a Duncan Wells Lifesaver on my Lifejacket mainly because if I ever needed it I would regret not spending £20 on it.

Block and Tackle system.

When you watch Duncan's video of the Boat Show you will see him using two bits of kit.

A Harken 75mm triple block 6:1 system and what looks like 12mm rope to lift the MOB.  There are climbing carabiners with one handed operation attached at each end.

A chain lifting strop which can sink in the water to easily go under the MOB legs and enable the MOB to be lifted out horizontally.

This is a brilliant set up and is easy to set up because everything works from on deck - use the boat hook to grab the life saver, sink the strop under the mob's legs, attach both onto a carabiner and lift using the pulley system.

I've not found anything quicker yet.  However, if you want to make the pulley system that Duncan Wells uses you will find that it is expensive because each of the blocks cost £200 + each.

MOB Man Overboard uses a less expensive set up.

I use 10mm rope which is strong enough but a bit harder to grip because it is narrower, and smaller 30mm blocks.  It's strong (420kg dynamic load) or above on all the elements, and long (5 metres when fully extended) so it works fine for the MOB recovery.

Block and tackle pulley system

The heart of it are the 2 Holt 30mm trip blocks.

There are different ways of rigging the blocks and I use an offset method which gives a 5:1 system.  I found that rigging it as a 6:1 gave friction because the ropes rub against each other.

Two Triple Blocks rigged to be 5:1

The blocks look small, and they are only 30mm sheaves.  However, they have a 420kg dynamic breaking strength so plenty for what we are using them for.

Holt 30mm Dynamic triple block

There is a Wichard safety snap shackle on the end which is easy to use and short.  I also rig a much larger 120mm shackle on the end in case the 75mm is too small to clip onto something.

Wichard 75mm safety snap shackle


MOB Man Overboard block and tackle pulley system

Bainbridge 12x120mm snap shackle

The chain strop is Duncan Well's idea and is genius.

Costing about £10 to make, I used 1 metre of chain, a metre of water pipe and 2 metres of lyros rope and made the strop up.  You can stand on deck and drop the strop into the water where the pipe holds it in an open shape making it easy to slip under the MOB's legs.  Then attach it and the lifesaver to the block and tackle and lift the casualty out horizontally.

Chain and rope strop

The rope is tied on with a bowline

How to use the Lifesaver and Block and Tackle system.

First, release the clutch on the spinnaker halyard, tie a bowline in the end and then you can attach the top of the block and tackle system using the carabina.

Picture of a bowline on the spinnaker halyard with the top of block and tackle clipped on.

Clip the carabina onto a bowline.

Then, you can raise the pulley up o the spreaders to ensure that you have enough height to lift the MOB over the guard rails.  The free end of the rope has a knot in about 5 metres from the end so that enough of it hangs down for you to reach.

picture of a block and tackle attached to the spinnaker halyard and raised to the spreaders

Raise the top of the pulley to the spreaders.

Then you grab the Lifesaver and clip it on the other end of the block and tackle.  Add the chain strop and then sink the strop under the legs of the MOB casualty.


Picture of a sailor guiding a chain recovery strop under the knees of a KIM Fibrelight Rescue Dummy

Sink the chain strop next to the MOB

Picture of a sailor guiding a chain recovery strop under the knees of a KIM Fibrelight Rescue Dummy

Guide the chain strop under the feet

Picture of a sailor guiding a chain recovery strop under the knees of a KIM Fibrelight Rescue Dummy

Guide the chain strop under the knees

picture of a sailor lifting a MOB rescue dummy out the water

Lift the dummy out horizontally



Want to know more about this or other equipment? 

Maybe you've been on the RYA / ISAF coastal Safety Coarse and found the MOB recovery part interesting or perhaps you've just done your Dayskipper or Yachtmaster practicals and run through the MOB procedures.  

Want to do more MOB?  If so, we have a couple of options for Man Overboard Rescue training, both of which are free.  All I ask is that I can use any photos I take on the website, social media, magazine articles etc.

Yacht clubs - I can run half day sessions on your yachts as part of your regular sailing weekends.  Why not finish a cruise on Sunday lunchtime and spend the afternoon learning 5 MOB techniques.

Own boat sessions - anything from a few hours to a full day using all the equipment on your yacht. As long as your within a few hours drive of Jct 13 on the M25 I'll come along and you can try anything you want.

If you are interested in trying any of these MOB equipment out yourself then please contact me at or use the contact form.  If you have time, can you add some info on if you are a Dayskipper, Coastal Skipper or Yachtmaster and if you've done the RYA Sea Survival or the RYA / ISAF Coastal Safety course.