Boating is one of the most fun recreational experiences. Navigating the waters takes away from our natural environment to explore the unfamiliar. Recreational boaters engage in many activities, including fishing, beaching, cruising, watersports, hunting, sightseeing, and more. Ample recreational space is available in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia between the extensive coastline, lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Unfortunately, year after year, boats capsize. Here is how to handle the situation of if your boat capsizes but remains afloat what should you do. 

Why Do Boats Capsize

Boats capsize for a multitude of reasons. Capsizing is a severe incident that accounts for hundreds of deaths per year in waters across the United States. There are numerous reasons why boats capsize.

Water Intrusion

One of the primary causes of capsizing is water intrusion in the bilges and decks of vessels. 

Water enters the bilge and decks due to rough seas, improper plumbing, or cracks in the hull. The situation is exacerbated by malfunction bilge pumps that fail to pump the water out of the boat’s bottom at a fast enough rate of speed. 

As water flows into the bilge, the boat becomes unstable and less buoyant. Lessened buoyancy subjects the boat to additional water intrusions as waves crash over the sides. The boat eventually overturns because it is no longer capable of remaining afloat. 

Rough Seas

While water intrusion results from rough seas, a boat bailing water from the decks and bilge at an adequate rate will not overturn. Instead, heavy seas directly cause the vessel to roll because of the size and strength of the waves. 

The operator must be trained to handle the angle at which to approach large breaking waves to help reduce the likelihood of capsizing. Better yet, keep the boat dockside when unfavorable conditions are expected. 

Operators who fail to remain clear of waterspouts are at risk of capsizing the vessel. Remember to steer away from on-water tornadic activity. 

Improper Weight Balance

The improper loading of gear and people leads to disastrous consequences. Instability is avoidable by distributing weight appropriately.

Overloading of the bow causes the front of the boat to dip, which leads to the intrusion of water. Stern heavy boats ride bow high, which in turn results in the flooding of the stern. Lastly, excessive weight on the aft or port side increases the likelihood of overturning when steering in the direction of the load. 

How Many Boats Capsize Per Year In The United States

On average, over 300 vessels capsize per year on waters throughout the United States. When considering the number of watercraft nationwide, the number of capsizings is low. However, the number of deaths associated with capsizing is significant. 

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes

There are many steps associated with handling a situation when the boat you are on or operating capsizes.

In the unfortunate event the vessel overturns, the first step is to account for all passengers onboard the watercraft. If someone is missing, make your best effort to locate the individual or individuals. 

Minimize the amount of energy expelled. Energy is a necessity when stranded for extended periods of time.

Unless you are presented with immediate danger or within a safe swimming distance to shore, remain with the overturned vessel.

Helicopters and boats are more likely to spot you when climbing aboard the hull. If you are incapable of climbing aboard, grab all floating objects to aid in remaining buoyant. 

In cold weather situations, remain close to preserve heat and attempt to dry by staying atop the hull. 

Signal for help when fellow boaters are in the vicinity. 

What Is The Safest Way To Float If Your Boat Capsizes

The safest way to float if your boat capsizes is by wearing a life jacket and or climbing aboard the boat’s hull. 

Remaining submerged except for holding the head above water causes the body’s skin to break down and reduces circulation. Exit the water as quickly as possible. 

Your Boat Capsizes But Remains Afloat What Should You Do

In the unfortunate and unlikely event, you fall victim to capsizing, know in advance how to handle the situation appropriately. Avoidance is best by remaining dockside in rough weather, inspecting bilge pumps, and adequately loading the watercraft with gear and people. Lastly, utilize a ziplock bag to store a cell phone in your pocket for emergencies.