Chapter 4: Emergency Preparation

Freeing a Grounded Vessel

Cut the engine and check to see if all passengers are unharmed. If anyone is injured, the first step should be to immediately request aid using a distress signal or the VHF radio.

If no one is seriously injured, then it is time to examine the boat. Check to see if the hull is damaged and keep an eye out for any leaks or cracks. If the hull has been damaged seriously, one must not go into deeper waters. Flag down another boater for towing assistance or radio in for help.

If no one is hurt and the boat has suffered no structural damage, then start thinking about getting it loose. If the hang up is not too severe it's possible to get the boat free using one of the following techniques. These techniques are for increasing levels of severity, but each is only useful if the vessel is not seriously damaged and is not hazardous to operate.

Reversing: Try to reverse off from where the vessel run aground. Put the engine into reverse and tilt it slightly upward if it is an outboard engine. Shift the weight of all passengers away from where the boat is grounded and try to reverse it back into the water.

Pushing Off: In the case that the boat is run more seriously aground, try and push it free. First, turn off the engine or lift it out of the water if it is outboard. Then, shift weight to the part of the boat that is not run aground and use spare paddles or oars to push off. If the boat is hung up on a sandbar it may be possible to stand on the sandbar itself and attempt to push the boat free. After ensuring that the engine is off, try to lift either the stern or bow to push it back into the water.

Kedge Anchor: A kedge anchor is a small anchor used to haul a boat off of where it has run aground. These anchors are usually brought out to boaters in need, by using a small dinghy or walked to the aground boat using a PFD as support for the weight of the anchor. To use a kedge anchor attach it to the anchor line, set the anchor at the bottom and use the line to pull the boat free from where it is aground.

Freeing a Grounded Vessel