A Course for Safe Boating
Accident Prevention and Rescue
Avoid hypothermia by preventing heat loss. Keep your head out of the water,
climb up on the boat’s hull as far out of the water as possible. If you cannot
get out of the water, curl into a ball or huddle with other passengers and
limit your movement (HELP—Heat Escape Lessening Position).
Blow a whistle, yell or wave your arms to get attention.
Many of the prevention and rescue techniques discussed here also apply to
sailing. But you should know a few techniques specific to sailing.
If the sailboat is going to capsize, let the sail all the way out, push the tiller
away from you or steer into the wind, and get to the high side of the boat.
Be sure to check weather and wind conditions constantly. You may need to
adjust your course and sails to adapt to changing conditions.
Know how to sail and use your equipment in strong winds and stormy
If the boat capsizes, search the area to make sure everyone is accounted
for. Look for injuries and be sure that no one is having difficulty staying
Throw a flotation device to anyone overboard.
If the boat is small enough, release sails, stand on the centerboard and,
holding on to the gunwale, use your weight to right the boat (this procedure
should be practiced in a calm, supervised setting, such as a boating class).
Once righted, immediately free the lines so the sails do not “catch” wind
and cause the boat to capsize again.
Help other passengers climb aboard if necessary.
Begin bailing out the boat after it has been righted and secured.
If you cannot right the boat, climb onto the hull to get as far out of the
water as possible.