What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

When a boat capsizes, the first thing you should do is examine the passengers to make sure no one is hurt. Find a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) and put it on if you made the error of not doing so. Hold onto it if you can’t put it on, and ask the other passengers to do the same. After putting on your safety gear, do a headcount of all the people on the boat.

Although it doesn’t happen frequently, the worst can happen when you are on the water, and your boat capsizes, endangering the safety of both you and your guests. This article covers every aspect of a boat capsize scenario so that you and your crew will be ready.

What To Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

Here is what to do if  your boat capsizes or a passenger falls overboard while you are steering a boat:

Floatation aids

Floatation aids are essential in case your boat capsizes. While wearing a life jacket, you should focus on keeping yourself afloat. If you do not have a life jacket, you can rest on floating objects such as a cooler or paddles. If you cannot find a floating device, you must tread water until help arrives. You should also encourage others to use floatation aids. Floating will save energy and keep you warm.

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

Floatation aids can save your life in a capsize. These can be simple items such as empty soda bottles or a cooler. The higher you are, the more likely you are to be found. Floatation aids are also an excellent choice if you’re sailing a small centerboard boat. If your boat capsizes, try to stay afloat by standing on the centerboard. This gives you lever action to push yourself back up.

You’ll want to use floatation aids if you’re on a river. These aids will help you remain afloat even when submerged in cold water. They will also prevent hypothermia, which is a severe problem. Remember never to leave children unattended or in cold water. A flotation device can save your life even if the boat’s engine catches fire.

A floatation device is the best option if you’re on a kayak or canoe. This will provide the stability you need to get back into your kayak or canoe. When replacing a floatation device, remember that stability is essential. Floatation aids are not just for floatation; they add stability to unsteady vessels.

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Keeping calm in fast-moving water

Keeping calm in fast-moving water is critical when your boat capsizes. This situation can be fatal if you panic or try to swim to safety before you reach the shore. If you are separated from your boat, lie on your back with your feet pointed downstream. You may want to grab the life jacket of one of your fellow passengers and swim to calmer waters. You can also try to right the boat yourself by lowering its oars.

If you are in a canoe or kayak, stay out of shipping channels, and keep your speed predictable and visible. Try to paddle no farther from shore than you are prepared to swim. Keep an eye on the season – waterfowl hunters are active in many Chesapeake waterways during fall and winter. Always check with your area law enforcement department to find out when they’re hunting, and plan your trip accordingly.

Avoiding capsizes

When sailing, there are many things you should keep in mind to avoid boat capsizes. First, don’t overload your vessel. Overloading a boat causes it to sit lower in the water and increases its risk of swamping by a wake. This can be particularly dangerous when you’re sailing in rough conditions. In addition, seawater can be toxic to your skin and eyes. You’ll also want to watch out for salt in food and drinks.

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

In the event of a boat capsizing, staying afloat is essential. To stay afloat, use a life jacket or other floating object to get help. If you’re alone, try to stay close to the boat and avoid moving away from it. Larger objects may be able to see you and help you. If passengers are on board, you’ll want to ask them to get a life jacket if they don’t already have one.

Staying with the boat you’re in is also crucial in avoiding capsizes. Afloat boats can be easier to spot than those that are submerged. Attempting to reboard a capsized boat may worsen the situation, so you should stay calm. If possible, you should call the coast guard to alert them to the situation. If the tide hasn’t changed at the time of the capsize, a helicopter can find the inverted hull easier than people submerged in water.

Staying in a low position in a storm is one of the most important ways to avoid capsizes. If you can’t reach land, try staying close to the boat’s center and stay low to prevent it from overturning. Standing on the centerboard also provides lever action. This technique is taught in most sailing classes. And if you’re in a small centerboard sailboat, try to stay afloat.

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Correcting a capsized boat

If your boat has capsized, you should take steps to correct it. Some boats have self-righting capabilities, allowing you to push the hull back into the water. But, others require more assistance. There are ways to correct a capsized boat that may save your life. Here are three standard methods. Knowing which method is best for you will help you avoid a capsize and prevent it from happening again.

One of the easiest ways to right a capsized boat is to lift the mast end. Then, untie the sail’s clew from its boom. This will prevent it from scooping up water while bringing the boat back to a horizontal position. Be sure to stand on the opposite gunwale to avoid being knocked over, and pull the jib sheet in to keep the boat upright.

If people are on board, look for a buoyant object, like a ship’s protrusion. If there are no objects nearby, ensure all people on board wear life jackets. If they are not, do a head count and see if any other boats are in the water. If you see an object on land, try to roll it over using the protrusions of the ship. Otherwise, stay onboard the boat unless you’re headed for a waterfall.

Once the boat is righted, you can start the walkover method by climbing over the side of the boat to the centerboard. Then, climb back into the boat with the halyard and main sheet. Once the boat has regained balance, it’s time to untie the boom vang and main sheet. It may take some time, but it is the most crucial step in rescuing a capsized boat.

Floating on your back in fast-moving water

Floating on your back in fast-flowing water is one of the first steps to take if your boat capsizes. Most small boats float, but it is not a bad idea to stay on board in case of a capsize. It saves energy and keeps you clear of other boats.

If you must separate from your boat, you should float on your back, with your feet facing downstream. The goal is to stay as buoyant and warm as possible. You should wear a life jacket if you can stay with your boat, as this will protect you from being swept away.

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What Causes A Boat To Capsize?

A boat rolling onto its side or tipping over is a capsize. Because when a boat becomes unsteady, it capsizes. There are three primary sources of that instability: excessive or unbalanced crew and equipment weight; leaks that add weight to the boat; and poor weather that rocks the boat and fills it with water.

Poor Weight Distribution

Poorly distributed weight is the main reason boats capsize. The main reason for capsizing, which is improperly distributed weight, such as one or two extra people or a few big coolers aboard, is most likely to happen to 15–19 footers. Due to the addition of more gear over time, older boats, in particular, may have grown heavier.

On boats with cockpit drains, it might just take a sizable person or a second cooler to force water back through the drains and fill the boat. Most of these boats under 20 feet must be floatable and carry a capacity plate that specifies the maximum weight and number of passengers that can be carried without danger.


Leaks are the second main reason for capsizing. It could be anything as simple as forgetting to insert the drain plug or leaking fittings. When the boat’s stability is compromised by water sloping around in the bottom, waves or a wake might cause the boat to flip. Tying it to your boat is easy to remember the drain plug.

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

However, leaky fittings that can flood the boat are typically hidden, frequently in live wells and bait boxes. Any fitting that joins the ship must be sealed and constructed of bronze, stainless steel, or Marlon.

Bad Weather Condition

The third primary reason a boat capsizes is adverse weather, which frequently works with some of the other causes mentioned above, such as overloading or unbalanced loads. Small boats are readily overpowered by even small waves or a strong wake, particularly if they are carrying a heavy load and are low to the water. Even larger boats can capsize in a sudden storm. In light of this, it’s crucial to check the weather prediction before leaving the house and to keep an eye on the sky.

Smartphone apps may display extensive weather maps, including radar that shows approaching storms if you are within the cellular data range. You must return to the land at the first indication of bad weather because the weather can change swiftly on the water. You and your crew should stay low and close to the center of the boat to maintain stability if you should have a chance to get caught in a storm.