this thread is VERY IMPORTANT for anyone trying to sail very far offshore: Be prepared to direct your rescue!
1. Do not call for a rescue unless you are REALLY sinking, or dying.
2. Before #1, do NOT try to sail a long time offshore unless you REALLY have the crew ready to do it. This generally disqualifies a husband and wife team.
The rigors of 24 X 7 X 30 + days? of life threatening physical efforts are too much for most people. This effort will drain you both to the point that you are quickly no longer able to handle what you could normally handle successfully. So, have a total crew of at least 4 people for a roughly 50 footer. Even then, this will be a serious challenge, so make sure this crew is comprised of strong, able, capable, experienced people.
3. If you are sinking or someone is dying, and have chosen to abandon ship, be aware that the transfer of people from a pleasure craft to a large freighter / tanker is a very dangerous undertaking. VERY DANGEROUS.
Which is again why you MUST comply with #1, because abandoning ship and transferring to a big mother of a vessel, can EASILY kill you.
So..... here you go:
A. Since you can not transfer from your boat directly to the rescue vessel, (because your boat will probably be smashed to pieces and easily squish you), the better idea is to transfer to something more mobile, and ideally rubber / pliable, like a dinghy, a life pod, or as many life preservers as you can put together. Your goal is to create a new boat, but one which will not be destroyed by colliding with the freighter / tanker /rescue boat.
Bring paddles, bring any communication devices you might have - portable VHF, or a SAT phone; flares, water, cigarettes... ( just in case you are addicted, to be prepared for hours of floating / drifting), if you can, in the order I have listed.
B. Communicate with the rescue vessel about your plan to abandon ship by transferring to your dinghy or Life pod or life preserver barge and would appreciate it if they would approach you such that you are DOWNWIND of them. You want to be downwind, since they will block the wind, which will facilitate them throwing life buoys to you as opposed to them trying to throw life buoys INTO the wind!
C. Get into your transfer vessel, and caste off from your sinking boat.
D. Keep in communication with your rescuer, and using your paddle(s) help to position yourself to be able to catch the buoy they throw at you.
E. Be patient, stay calm, stay warm, stay ONBOARD your new boat until you really have a secure line secured to you to pull yourself & crew onboard / up to their deck.
The concept that the rescuer should be downwind of you is invalid, since the wind will not blow you to them unless they will REALLY come to a complete STOP in the water - otherwise, they will go right past you well before you can get to them. Believe me, that is true.
The worst thing which can happen is that you end up in the water. That is why you want to leave your sinking vessel by transferring to something you have which will float and will be pliable, i.e., a RIBBY, a dinghy, a lifepod, or ALL of your life preservers TIED TOGETHER.
Direct your rescue. It is MOST important to you, not your rescuer, keep that in mind. :-)
This is an audio of the rescue.
The following link is to sailnet where there are over 1300 pages dedicated to this.