A Course for Safe Boating
Accident Prevention and Rescue
Running aground, touching bottom and getting stuck, at high speed can
seriously damage a boat and throw passengers overboard or into solid
objects on board. You can prevent grounding easily by learning about the
area beforehand, and by using caution in shallow areas.
Always be alert to your surroundings.
Know and observe the Aids to Navigation (ATON) markers, signs and buoys.
Learn to “read” the water surface. Ripples, boils, and coloration can indicate
shallow water, reefs or shoals.
Know the expected tide levels and times. Consult a tide book. You may
have good water depth in an area during a high tide, but the area may be
dangerous at low tide.
Know the area where you will be boating. Check charts for possible shallow
areas or other underwater hazards before boating.
Use caution rather than convenience. Don’t just guess about the depth of
First, check the damage to your boat’s hull. Make sure you are not sinking
or taking on water.
Identify the cause of the grounding (sand, rock, sharp objects, a wreck, etc.).
If it won’t damage the hull, reverse engines and attempt to back off.
Waiting for a higher tide may be the solution if you ran aground because of
a low tide.
If there are obstacles that may increase damage to the hull, or if you have
serious hull damage, call the local law enforcement agency or Coast Guard
The operator of a vessel was traveling in the early morning darkness in ocean
waters. He thought he was familiar with the area, so he was not using any
navigational aids. He lost his bearings and struck rocks just offshore. Then,
his engine stalled. He tried to drop anchor, but it was too late and he was
washed against the jetty, which destroyed his vessel.
REFER TO CHAPTER 2–3
PAGES 38, 62
If there is an emergency and
you are out to sea or in an isolated
area and have a radio, hail the Coast
Guard over VHF Channel 16 using the
standard “Mayday” call.
For more information on distress
calls and grounding, visitwww.dbw.ca.gov/DistressSignals