Saturday, June 20, 2009

Running Aground in a Small Boat

If you run aground while traveling at a high speed, the impact not only can cause damage to your boat but also can cause injury to you and your passengers.

Knowing the local area is the best way to prevent running aground.

Become familiar with the locations of shallow water and submerged objects before you go out. Be aware that the location of shallow hazards will change as the water level rises and falls.

Learn to read a chart to determine your position and the water depth. If you run aground, make sure no one is injured and then check for leaks. If the impact did not cause a leak, follow these steps to try to get loose.

Don't put the boat in reverse. Instead, stop the engine and lift the outdrive.

Shift the weight to the area farthest away from the point of impact.

Try to shove off from the rock, bottom, or reef with a paddle or boathook.

Check to make sure your boat is not taking on water. If you can't get loose, summon help using your visual distress signals. Call for assistance using your VHF marine radio.

A vessel is grounded (runs aground) when it gets stuck on the bottom. Never assume that water is deep enough just because you are away from the shore. Also, don't presume that all shallow hazards will be marked by a danger buoy.