A Course for Safe Boating
Accident Prevention and Rescue
A passenger on a sailboat was sitting on the gunwale of the boat when a
sudden shifting of the boat caused him to fall overboard. The operator of the
boat panicked and took a wide turn while trying to come about and lost sight
of the victim. The victim came into view momentarily but the boat passed by
quickly as it was picking up speed from the wind. The victim was not wearing
a life jacket and drowned.
1. Identify the mistakes that the people made and the proper actions they
could have taken.
2. What could these people have done differently to prevent this accident?
3. What steps could you take to rescue the victims and/or make the
Collisions can be two or more vessels crashing into one another, or a vessel
colliding with another object, such as a dock, pier or shore. Most collisions
can be avoided by using caution and good judgement.
Keep a sharp lookout on all sides for boats and other obstructions, such
as piers, docks, buoys, shorelines and floating debris. Beware of tunnel
vision—don’t just look straight ahead.
Follow the rules of the road.
Be aware of things that can act as stressors, such as overexposure to sun,
wind, motion, noise and vibration.
Don’t drink alcohol and operate a boat because it can impair your judgment
and depth perception. The effects of natural stressors are made worse when
you use drugs or alcohol.
Slow down when approaching a landing, such as a shore or dock. Be
Maintain a safe distance between your boat and other boats. Be aware that
two boats approaching each other head-on can close the distance between
them very quickly.
REFER TO CHAPTERS 2–4
PAGES 25-26, 39-40, 78-81,
When a collision is about to happen,
take steps to avoid it.
The stand-on vessel must maintain
course and speed. The give-way
vessel must change its course and/
or speed to avoid a collision. If the
give-way vessel does not take proper
action, the stand-on vessel must
take action to avoid a collision. All
boaters have the responsibility to