What steps should you take when your boat capsizes?
An accident in which a vessel sinks or capsizes is every boatowner’s nightmare. But it’s something that everyone who goes on the water should consider so that they know what to do if the worst happens.
Boating accidents can occur as a result of striking something – like floating debris or another vessel. They can be caused by bad weather, mechanical failure, poor maintenance, user error or simple bad luck.
Reduce the impact of a boating accident before you sail
The most important thing you can do to protect those you sail with is to insist on everyone wearing lifejackets (or personal floatation devices – PFDs) while on the water. Be sure to keep your PFDs in tip-top shape by checking them regularly, storing them well and replacing them as necessary. The RNLI has some helpful guidance about lifejackets.
Make sure your boat has the right level of insurance. Before you set sail think about whether the coverage you have is right for the activities you have planned. The right insurance policy will help with the costs of recovery and repair – but if you’ve got the wrong coverage, then you may find yourself paying for more than you otherwise might have. If you want to check your coverage with Velos, get in touch on +44 (0)20 7929 4058.
Keep your vessel in good repair. Take steps to maintain your watercraft to a good standard. This will reduce the chances of an accident.
Carry a communication device. Look into the different options, including handheld VHF; personal locator beacon; EPIRB; SART.
Talk with your passengers and crew about what to do when things go wrong. It might put a bit of a dampener on the launch – but it’s a conversation that could save lives.
What happens when a boat starts to sink?
A boat can start to sink very quickly once it starts to take on water. So, make sure everyone is wearing a lifejacket.
You will want to have your communication device and your ditch bag handy in case you need to evacuate.
Once everyone is as safe as they can be, call for help. The coastguard will want to know your location, boat name, number of people and situation. They may also ask how long you can stay afloat.
While you wait for help to arrive, start work on some self-help. It may be possible to plug a leak with anything soft like bags of food or bedding. Think about whether you can shift the weight in the boat to raise the leak above the water line. Use bilge pumps to remove the water, and think about whether beaching the boat is an option, as this will prevent the boat from sinking.
What should I do if my boat capsizes?
Stay with a capsized vessel. It is easier for rescuers to spot a vessel in open water than the head of a swimmer. You can also stay dryer and warmer for longer, even in a listing vessel.
What should I do if my boat collides with another vessel?
In the event of two boats colliding, you must stop and identify yourself, your vessel, your home port, your ports of origin and destination. You are obliged to help the people on board the other boat – as long as it’s safe to do so.
You will need to report the collision if there are extensive damages or the seaworthiness of the vessel is affected or if it’s resulted in death or injury that requires more than first aid.
If you are racing: protest the third party if they do not accept the penalty.
Finally, you should get witness statements and details from everyone involved.
What should I do once I’ve been rescued from a sinking yacht?
Once help arrives and you and your passengers are safe, you may be able to negotiate a tow if your boat is not completely sunk. Take steps to safeguard the vessel, then let your insurers know. They can advise on salvage and repairs and will tell you what estimates to get. Gather witness statements, and details of any other vessels involved.
At Velos, our claims are managed by trained, UK-based claims handlers who are experienced in marine insurance.
Yachting Boating World: The yacht suffered major damage after it drifted onto the rock armour at Rosslare Harbour in Co. Wexford, Ireland. The RNLI rescued the two people on board.
The eight-metre vessel had suffered engine failure and drifted onto the rock armour at Rosslare Harbour.
The crew were seeking shelter from the weather, which had worsened to a strong force seven north westerly gale. The RNLI says the wind was blowing into the mouth of Rosslare Harbour.
When the lifeboat crew arrived, they found that one of the yacht’s crew had been able to leave the boat and make it onto the rocks.
However, due to high waves and the rocks, it was not possible to attach a towline to the yacht from the lifeboat.
Two of the RNLI crew successfully managed to get the remaining occupant off the boat from the land side of the harbour. The lifeboat remained offshore providing cover.
The couple were brought to the lifeboat station to get warm and recover from their ordeal. They were also provided with dry clothes. They are currently being looked after by villagers at Rosslare Harbour.
Speaking after the incident, the Rosslare Harbour RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer, Jamie Ryan, praised the efforts of the lifeboat crew.
“It was a challenging rescue in the early hours as the boat was getting dashed against the rocks and we needed to get the two crew members to safety,” he said.
“The best way to recover them was from the land side, with the lifeboat providing cover from the sea,” continued the press officer.
“The boat has suffered major damage, but the two people are recovering well from the incident. The couple, who are not from Ireland, are being looked after by the people of Rosslare,” concluded Ryan.
Yachting Boating World: Two crew died after the wheelhouse of the Viking Freya hit a bridge in the city of Erlangen, Germany in the early hours of 11 September.
A police spokesman is reported as saying that the retractable wheelhouse may not have been lowered in time.
The Viking Freya was leaving Erlangen along the Main-Danube Canal when the accident happened.
It was on its way to the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Around 230 people are reported to have been on board. The wheelhouse was crushed in the impact with the bridge.
The two crew members killed were a 33-year-old sailor and a 49-year-old who was helming. No-one else was injured in the incident.
In a statement, Viking River Cruises said the families of the two men were in their “thoughts and prayers”.
“Viking Freya experienced an accident in Erlangen, Germany early Sunday morning.
“Viking Freya’s wheelhouse collided with the bridge in Erlangen.
“Two crew members of the ship were in the wheelhouse and died as a result of injuries sustained during the collision.
“No other crew members or guests were injured, and all guests have been transported to local hotels.
“We are heartbroken, and company executives are on the scene to work closely with local authorities to understand the details of the accident. Viking Freya had embarked on its September 10 sailing and will now be moved for repairs.
“Guests on this sailing may continue on their journey with a modified itinerary, embarking on Viking Bestla in Passau. Or, they may return home as soon as possible.
“Guests currently booked on Viking Freya sailings for the remainder of 2016 will now sail on Viking Bestla, a sister ship that is virtually identical.
“Guests on these sailings will be contacted directly by a Viking Customer Relations representative or their travel agent. The families of our crew members are in our thoughts and prayers,” concluded the statement.
Yachting Boating World: The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has launched an investigation after a 22-year-old man died while fishing with his family off Hartlepool Marina.
Cleveland Police said the man was setting lobster pots in the early evening with his brother, nephew and a woman when his foot got tangled in the ropes of the fishing net and he fell into the sea.
He was in the water for a very short time before being recovered. The incident happened about half a mile off the Heugh Pier.
The Humber Coastguard tasked Hartlepool RNLI to attend the incident. Both the Atlantic 85 Inshore lifeboat and the all-weather lifeboat responded.
A spokesman for Hartlepool RNLI said: “An RNLI volunteer crew member was transferred onto the fishing boat and he began medical treatment on the casualty.”
“The all-weather lifeboat arrived moments later and Hartlepool RNLI’s doctor was transferred to the fishing vessel and took over the CPR,” continued the spokesman.
“The fishing boat was escorted to Hartlepool Lifeboat Station while the medical care continued on the casualty. He was transferred to the pontoon where the all-weather lifeboat is moored and further efforts were made to revive him,” said the spokesman.
The 22-year-old man was then transferred to the care of paramedics with the Great North Air Ambulance.
Hartlepool RNLI operations manager, Mike Craddy, said: “This was a multi agency incident and despite the best efforts of all concerned we were unable to save the gentleman. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this sad time.”
In a statement, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said it had “started an investigation into the fatal man overboard from a UK registered 8.2m fishing boat Pauline Mary (WY 845), east of Hartlepool, England, on 2 September 2016”.
Yachting Boating World: Humber Coastguard requested the launch of a Tynemouth RNLI inshore lifeboat after receiving a report of a drunk man swimming off the Fish Quay Sands.
The Tynemouth RNLI inshore lifeboat was deployed just after 6.30 this morning, Tuesday 30 August, after the Humber Coastguard received a report of an inebriated man swimming off the Fish Quay Sands, North Shields.
The volunteer crew was paged and immediately deployed the lifeboat from the station round to the beach where the swimmer was promptly found by the three crew members.
The man had been drinking prior to going for a swim and initially refused to return to shore but with, according to the RNLI, ‘a few strong words’ from the lifeboat crew, he returned back to the beach and was met by members of the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade who assisted him from shore.
At first however the man refused to come out of the water as he was naked. Paramedics arrived at the scene and the swimmer was wrapped in a thermal blanket and taken to an ambulance for assessment. As the casualty was on shore the lifeboat stood down and returned to station.
Adrian Don, spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI, said: “Taking a swim on a beautiful morning might have seemed like a good idea but alcohol and the sea don’t mix. This could very easily have turned into a tragedy and getting the man out of the sea quickly was the priority.
“Two years ago a man sadly drowned in similar circumstances just a few yards away from this location.
“The RNLI aims to half coastal drownings by 2024 and comprehensive advice about staying safe in and around water can be found at respectthewater.com”.
Yachting Boating World: The woman was rescued three times over a four day period by Looe RNLI in south east Cornwall. She has now been given “comprehensive” safety advice.
The young woman was cut off by the tide while out walking around the coast of south east Cornwall last week.
At this time of year, both of Looe’s lifeboats are launched to every shout, due to the popularity of the area for holidaymakers.
The woman was first rescued on 16 August. The second incident happened at Second Beach in East Looe on the evening of 18 August.
The third and final incident took place less than 24 hours later. The woman called the emergency services at just before midday on 19 August when she was cut off by the tide at Port Nadler Beach.
Looe’s volunteer lifeboat crew also had to deal with a number of other shouts during the week, including the rescue of two kayakers who were reported to be in difficulty in the water off Seaton. The casualties managed to get back to shore safely by the time the lifeboat arrived.
Helm of Looe RNLI Lifeboat, Brian Bowdler, said: “It has been a busy time for our crew and none of these rescues were easy because of sea and weather conditions. The spring tides can catch people out, as they can come in very quickly.”
“Our volunteers will launch to anybody in danger, regardless of their situation. If you’re heading to the coast our advice is to take extra care, check the weather and tide conditions and always carry a means of calling for help should you get into difficulty,” he stressed.
UK Coastguard issued a safety warning after six people died in rough seas between 19-20 August.
Three men, two women and a six-year-old boy were killed in Cornwall, Essex, Dorset, Jersey and Aberdeen.
Strong winds were forecast over the weekend, which coincided with a period of spring tides.
The Met Office also issued a yellow ‘be aware’ warning on 19 August.
Yachting Boating World: An investigation by the Dutch authorities is now underway after three sailors died when the mast of their ketch broke, crushing them to death.
The three tourists were on a charter holiday with the rest of their family when the accident happened just before 2pm on 21 August. Despite efforts to resuscitate them, they all died.
The men are aged 19, 43 and 48, and are all believed to be from the German town of Amberg.
Dutch media are reporting that the three men were sailing with nine other members of their family. It was the last day of their holiday.
No one else was injured in the accident.
The ketch was off the coast of the Frisian village of Harlingen, around 68 miles north of Amsterdam when the accident took place.
The vessel, which is said to date from 1898, was being skippered by the 51-year-old owner and his wife.
Immediately after the accident, the vessel returned to the port of Harlingen, where the bodies of the three men were removed.
The skipper has since been arrested by the police.
The Mayor of Harlingen, Roel Sluiter, has described the incident as “a terrible tragic accident”.
Harlingen on the Wadden Sea is a popular holiday resort, with a long history of fishing and shipping.
Yachting Boating World: The UK Coastguard has issued a safety warning after six people died in rough seas around Britain over the weekend.
Three men, two women and a six-year-old boy were killed in Cornwall, Essex, Dorset, Jersey and Aberdeen.
The Met Office had issued a yellow ‘be aware’ warning on 19 August. Gusts of up to 60mph were forecast for exposed coastlines in the south and west.
The strong winds and large waves also coincided with a period of spring tides over the weekend.
The UK Coastguard urged everyone to be careful around surging waves.
“Stay away from areas where surging waves could sweep you off your feet, or hit rocks and cause a huge amount of spray,” it advised.
“Be careful of tides; it’s easy to become cut off and strong wind conditions will mean that the sea will reach higher levels than expected. Heed warnings from lifeguards,” it added.
James Instance for the UK Coastguard issued this warning.
“What should be an enjoyable experience could so easily take a traumatic turn, so please do listen to warnings and stay at a safe distance from the water,” he stressed.
The first casualty of the weekend happened on 19 August at Fistral Beach in Newquay, Cornwall.
Rudy and Lisinda Bruynius and their three children were knocked off rocks and washed into the sea.
The couple’s two sons managed to scramble back on to rocks. RNLI lifeguards rescued Mrs Bruynius using their jetski.
Her husband and their two-year-old daughter was rescued by the Newquay lifeboat. Mr Bruyunius later died in hospital.
On 20 August, a windsurfer in his 60s died after getting into difficulties off West Mercia, Essex.
Dan Baker, who was described by friends as an experienced windsurfer, was airlifted to hospital at just after midday but later died.
Just hours later, a man got into difficulty while swimming outside the safe swim area at Sandbanks beach in Poole, Dorset.
He was rescued from the water by lifeguards, who performed CPR. The crew of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and paramedics also attended but he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Later on Saturday afternoon, two brothers were paddling in the sea off Aberdeen when they were swept out.
Their mother, 37-year-old Julie Walker, along with others, tried to rescue the children. All of them needed rescuing. Both Walker and her six-year-old son, Lucas died.
Walker’s 13-year-old son, Samuel is recovering in hospital. A man and a woman also received medical treatment.
On Saturday evening, a female swimmer was recovered from rough seas off Jersey. Joy Godfray, 31, later died in hospital.
She had been swimming near Green Island beach with a male companion, who was rescued by a member of the public.
Yachting Boating World: An investigation is now underway after a fire at a Long Island marina. Multiple boats were damaged. Watch as firefighters try and put out the blaze.
High winds made it difficult for firefighters to put out the blaze at the Patchogue Shores Marina, with the fire spreading from boat to boat.
Suffolk fire officials say the blaze started just before 7pm on 16 August.
Dense smoke covered the East Patchogue area. Many Long Island residents posted pictures and video of the incident on social media, alerting marina users.
Six departments, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau, were at the scene to try and put out the fire.
Nearby residents were warned to stay indoors and to close all windows.
Officials say firefighters had to return to the marina several hours after putting the fire out when it rekindled on a boat and on the dock.Three firefighters had to receive medical attention after inhaling chemicals from the burning vessels.
The owner of the marina, David Kazmark, told CBS New York that he was grateful that no one was seriously injured.
Praising the emergency services, he said: “They saved my business, they saved my building; saved gas tanks from going up.”
The cause of the fire is still being investigation, although it is not believed to be suspicious. Officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation have been monitoring the cleanup of the marina site.
Four of the eight boats which caught fire are believed to be a total loss.
Yachting Boating World: An investigation is underway by the Greek authorities after two boats collided off the island of Aegina. Four people are dead, including a child.
The Greek Coastguard says an investigation is now underway by the Echelon of Greek Office of Naval Investigation Accident & Incident (ELYDNA).
Witnesses say the eight-metre speedboat collided with the tourist boat, slicing it in two. So far, 20 passengers on the tourist boat have been rescued.
The bodies of two men and one child were recovered from the water by rescuers.
They are believed to be the Greek captain of the tourist boat, and a father and his child. The body of a third man was later found by divers. None of the four people on board the speedboat were injured.
The Greek Coastguard says the captain of the speedboat has been arrested. Attempts to identify any missing passengers from the tourist boat are ongoing.
The incident happened just after 1pm local time on 16 August. A navy helicopter, three coastguard patrol boats and nearby fishing and leisure craft assisted in the search for survivors.
Those with minor injuries and shock were treated at the Aegina health centre. Two people with serious injuries have bene transferred by helicopter to Athens.
The wreckage of the tourist boat has now been recovered, while investigators continue to piece together the cause of the accident.
Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands of Greece in the Saronic Gulf. It is around 17 miles from Athens and is a popular holiday destinations for Greeks and foreign visitors.