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What to do if your boat capsizes and floats away?
- First and foremost, do not panic
- Everyone should be wearing a lifejacket, be sure all straps are securely connected. If you’re not wearing a PFD, find one and put it on. If you don’t have time to put it on, hold firmly onto it.
- Do not attempt to swim to shore (only as a last resort)
- If you or anyone else is not wearing a life jacket, look around for any loose floating objects
- If you have no floatation devices around begin treading water
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If your pleasure craft sinks or floats away, don’t panic.
- If you are wearing a lifejacket or PFD, make sure that it is securely fastened, remain calm, and wait for help.
- Swimming to shore should be considered only as a last resort.
- If you aren’t wearing a lifejacket or PFD, look for one floating in the water or other floating items (coolers, oars or paddles, decoys, etc.) to help you stay afloat. Do your best to help your passengers find something to help them float and stay together.
- If you have nothing to support you, you may have to tread water or simply float. In cold water, float, rather than tread, to reduce hypothermia.
Small boats, especially those within the 15- to 19-foot range, tend to capsize more often than larger vessels. Nonetheless, all ships that capsize do so for three main reasons.
Too much weight or weight that is improperly distributed causes more capsized boats than any other reason. Even one extra person or a couple of heavy coolers can make enough difference to cause instability, explains Scott Marine.
The number of seats on a boat is not a perfect indicator of how much it can hold. Instead of counting seats, look for an attached capacity plate that will let you know how many individuals can safely board. To avoid capsizing, discourage passengers from gathering in one place, and never let anyone lean over the vessel’s side, advises Floating Somewhere.
The second most common cause of capsizing is leakage. Some leaks, such as those caused by simply forgetting to re-insert a drain plug, are easily remedied. Out-of-sight leaky fittings like those in live wells can be harder to find and manage. To prevent capsizing due to leaks, keep your boat in excellent repair, winterize it safely, and always check for visible leaks before you embark.
The third-commonest cause of capsizing is the weather. Smaller vessels, especially when laden and sitting low in the water, can be easily overwhelmed by waves and/or boat wakes. As any experienced boater knows, weather on the water can change instantly. If you’re at sea in a small vessel and the weather suddenly changes from sunny to squall, head back to port right away to avoid a dangerous capsize situation.