I intend to throw 100 puppies off the Irish ferry tomorrow unless my demands are met!

OK I’m not really gonna throw puppies off a ferry but I just wondered whether a dog could survive if it were to fall overboard in the middle of the Irish sea? I reckon it would have to swim about 16 miles or so to make land but I think a dog could make that.

This question was inspired by a conversation I had with a dog owner who said that if their dog fell overboard they would dive in after it. The reason they would do this is because the shipping company have a policy not to turn the boat (or jetfoil) around for animals, they will only do it for humans. So by diving into the water you force the boat to turn around and thereby save the dog.

But I reckon that the safest course of action would be to leave the dog alone because it will probably make the shore anyway. Dogs are strong swimmers and they will have prevailing tides washing them in toward the shoreline so the odds are in their favour.

So I think that the best course of action to take if your dog falls overboard is to not dive in after it. Can a dog swim 16 miles?

Even if a dog can swim 16 miles. it’s not clear, they coudl do so in the Irish Sea in December without suffering from hypothermia. Nor is it obvious it would automatically know which way to swim to save itself.

arent there laws that would take effect to penalize someone who dove in on purpose? Im certain any commercial concern would take a dim enough view (in terms of moneys lost ) to take legal action at least wouldnt they? Sorry for the hijack. Just curious.

I’d jus pull it back onboard by the leash attached to it’s dog collar.

Oh, you had your dog, unleashed and loose on the deck of a moving ferry in the middle of the Irish sea?

Let him go, and hope he’s picked up by someone who will be a more responsible owner!

16 miles?

In the Irish Sea?

In December?

No way. Not even close. Dead dog unless someone picks it up in short order.

Temperature loss in water is MUCH faster than in the air. Depending on the dog its fur coat my afford some slight protection but not enough.

The temperature in the Irish Sea in December is around 10 degrees celsius (or 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Cite

A human in 10[sup]o[/sup] C water can swim about 0.8 miles if a good swimmer before becoming overcome by hypothermia and I am not sure that accounts for high seas versus calm water. Cite

The dog won’t come even close to making it home on its own even if it knew the correct direction to swim.

That said if it were my dog and she went overboard and I knew the boat would not stop for it I’d go on after her and hope they’d stop for me. Penalties or no I would still do that…I love my pup too much to watch her dog paddling after me as the boat I was on sailed away.

As far as I’ve been told, dogs can’t swim for long durations unless they’re used to it - if they do it all the time like a water rescue dog, perhaps.

I take my dog swimming in a pool and she has great fun but it makes her absolutely EXHAUSTED because she’ll only do it a few times a summer. She is only 2 and in good shape but she can only sustain swimming so long (maybe 3 mins at most?) before she has to take a break.

Just a WAG but i’d have to say no way can a dog swim 16 miles without being able to take a break. Then again dogs can do some amazing things…

If the owner jumped overboard after the dog, it’s most likely that both would be lost; the Irish ferries aren’t the biggest of vessels, but they are still sufficiently large that when they are under full steam, stopping, turning around and attempting to return to the point where the man went overboard ir rather likely to take very much longer than the time a human could survive in the open sea, especially without a lifejacket.

If you fall overboard from a large passenger vessel under full power, out of sight of land, you’re pretty much screwed.

In more than one sense - the propellers would be a serious risk.

I’m with the others here - it’s a dead mutt. The Irish Sea is bloody cold and even a dog like a labrador which was bred to get wet would still freeze in fairly short order.

It might stand a chance in the Caribbean (sharks etc notwithstanding), but not the Irish Sea.

Even if it could swim to shore, how would you find it?

Is this true? I mean, I get that it’s a seriously bad idea, but don’t they have some procedure for stopping and sending off a small boat, or something?

Dog would go from being man’s best friend to man’s chum.

Don’t know if I truely believe that or not. To swim the English Channel the high temprature is 18C cite. When you swim the English Channel you can only wear what amounts to a Speedo suit and a swim cap, nothing to keep you warm. It normally takes 10-15 hours or more to do the swim and you are not allowed out of the water.

I’m going to say that the people who swim the .8 of a mile were not good swimmers, and the cite you give says that with swimming you can survive two hours. So something is wrong there, either you can survive around two hours or swim 0.8 miles.

Granted there is a large difference between 10C and 18, but I can’t see that the difference would be 8+ hours. I don’t however think a dog could swim that far, most people wouldn’t want to swim that, let alone a dog.

Just a WAG eh? I like it.

In kayaking, there’s a thing called the “50-50-50 rule.” It states “An average adult person has a 50/50 change of surviving a 50 yard swim in 50° F (9° C) water.” Cite

As someone living on the shores of a very large, very cold body of water, I can attest that swimming when the water is below 60 degrees or so is extremely painful. Add in some waves and fog? I can’t see how a person, much less a dog, could survive that.

Both you and the dog would be dead before the boat’s turned around.

I’ve seen a healthy setter swim 200m in the Atlantic in December (he fell off a jetty). He wouldn’t have lasted much longer.

I’m not sure if they even have any motorised launch-style lifeboats on the Irish ferries; I think they might all be inflatable rafts. In any case…

…There’s certain to be an administrative delay in between the person going overboard and the ship slowing down (they would have to) and lowering the lifeboat (if they have one), during which time, the ship is under full power. By the time anything at all starts to happen, you’re a long long way behind. Perhaps someone can do the calcs, but the Ulysses grosses at 51 thousand tonnes and the Isle of Inishmore at 34 thousand - both cruise at 22 knots - turning on a dime isn’t an option.

I used to work on the Irish ferries (I mention this purely to assuage any fears that I might be indulging a racist stereotype) - they are not famous for their seamanship or general administrative competence (I recall a number of instances when the ships sailed despite storm warnings and were then unable to put into port or crashed into harbour walls in the attempt) - under the best of conditions, with the most alert crew, a millpond ocean in summer, in broad daylight, falling overboard from a vessel that is not motoring at top speed is probably very likely to be fatal. Survival after falling into the Irish sea from a car ferry is just so incredibly unlikely.

They’re generally covered from head to foot in goose grease, and have a backup vehicle which provides energy drinks and the like. Plus, 18C is only just below room temperature.

The only clothing that’s going to keep you warm in that water is a wet suit, so whether you’re a swimmer in speedos or a ferry passenger in a wooly coat isn’t going to make much of a difference. If anything, clothing is going to drag you down more than it’s going to keep you warm.

Cross channel swimmer also cover themselves in cooking fat of some kind to give themselves another layer.

The difference between 10C and 18C is not just large, it’s vast. And channel swimming is done in good weather, with nothing like the waves a swimmer would be faced with in the Irish Sea in December.

For the OP: The dog’s dead. It hasn’t a prayer. But jumping in yourself is just adding a very good chance of your own death before rescue.

Poorly run Irish ferries or no there is some reasonable chance someone would survive a fall off a ferry into the Irish Sea in December assuming propellers don’t get you or the fall itself doesn’t injure you (it should be noted some people drown upon hitting cold water sue to a gasp reflex and inhale water pretty much dooming them on the spot…this all can also be very dependant in the strength of the swimmer and numerous individual differences as well).

In 50 degree F (10 degree C) water you have around ~60 minutes before exhaustion/unconciousness sets in. Succumbing to hypothermia is a progressive thing…not an all at once thing. Even after unconsiousness sets in death is still not imminent if someone gets to you (of course you would need to be wearing a life vest if you were unconcious).

Cite 1
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Cite 3

Hypothermia is very serious and jumping off a ferry in the Irish Sea after your dog may well be the beginnings of a nomination for the Darwin Awards. But as big as the ferries are and slow to react the crew may be one would think they could get back to you inside an hour. I have read stories too of cases where falling overboard in cold seas is a death sentence no matter what the boat does but this is usually cited in water temperatures pretty close to freezing (saw one of an around-the-world sail boat race and rounding Cape Horn in South America they said if someone waent overboard they simply could not trun the boat and get back to the person before they died).

As for those who swim the English Channel there is a significant difference between 50 degree and 64 degree water. Both are cold but the survival time in those two temperatures is significantly different. Further, those who attempt a Channel swim train for it for a LONG time before attempting it. It is remarkable what the human body can be conditioned to do but they are by far the exception and not the rule. Finally, I think Channel swimmers smear lard all over themselves which offers some (not a lot but some) thermal protection.

Godd stuff, but it’s worth noting that even if they turn around within an hour, the best they can do is to go to your approximate last known position - when you fall in the sea, you’re just a tiny little drifting speck amid a vast, not-particularly-contrasting background; air/sea rescue specialists often have trouble finding bright orange life rafts, let alone individual humans.

On most vessels the size of a ferry, the screws would be far enough below the surface and inboard not to pose a large threat.

But I’m in the camp that says the dog would be lucky to swim half a mile in 10-degree water, and if the owner jumps in after him on the basis that this compels the ferry to stop, he’s gunning for a Darwin Award.