Capsizing, Swamping, Sinking and Grounding

When a vessel capsizes, swamps, sinks, or runs aground, you have an incident that can range in importance from a minor inconvenience to a life-threatening emergency.

The following actions should be taken, as appropriate.

  • put on PFDs or lifejackets
  • account for all persons previously on board
  • determine whether the passengers and the vessel are in danger
  • stay with the craft when appropriate
  • exhibit signals to indicate distress and need of assistance, including a MAYDAY call, if necessary.
  • prepare tender or zodiac for launch.
  • have your emergency bag, including first aid kit and pyrotechnic signals ready and be prepared to ABANDON SHIP if necessary.

In the event of swamping you may be able to correct the problem by pumping and bailing.

If you ground in fair weather it may be possible to free the vessel by reverse propulsion, following the reverse course of entry to the shallow ground.

Often a weight shift to one side of the vessel, or a weight shift forward or aft, may be sufficient to unground the vessel.

Sailors may employ the trick of hanging a heavy weight on the boom or halyard when extended far to the port or starboard side of the sailing vessel.