As you head out on the water for the day with friends and family, the last thing you expect to happen is to have the boat break down. You’ve probably done everything you should, including boat maintenance and care. Still, things happen, and the best way to know what to do if there is a boat issue and you are stuck on the water is to prepare yourself ahead of time. The first step is to remain calm. It’s your boat, and if you aren’t anxious, it will also help the passengers stay calm. After a few deep breaths, take the next steps of what to do when a boat breaks down on the water.
Drop the Anchor
If you are not careful, the boat can drift to an unknown area within minutes and take you further from shore. When it’s clear that the boat is inoperable, drop the anchor to hold it still. Staying in one place is also helpful should you call for help and need someone to locate you.
Can You Fix the Issue?
Next, it’s time to decide if something easily repairable is causing the breakdown, and if so, can you fix it out on the water? The following is a list of possible reasons a boat is stalling:
- Broken belt
- Out of gas
- Leaking hose
If you assess the situation and it’s as simple as refueling with your spare gas can, then you’re in luck. If not, it’s time to try the next step.
Accept a Tow
Another boater may notice you are stranded and offer a tow. You can accept the offer if the driver understands how to safely tow a boat on the water. It’s not as simple as tying up some ropes to each boat and heading to shore, however. Towing on water requires attention to detail and patience from everyone involved so the boats aren’t damaged and the passengers are safe.
Call for Help
When all else fails, call for help. It’s best to have a working cell phone or a radio with you when on the boat so you can contact the nearest harbor manager, who can send the proper assistance for you. Keep a list of important numbers on your boat for emergencies.
Is Everyone Comfortable?
Remember your passengers as you work on getting everyone to safety. Try to keep things light-hearted and inform everyone of your steps. Hopefully, you’ve got a cooler full of drinks and snacks to keep everyone hydrated and full. In the event of heat stroke or any other health issue or injury, you can call 911, and they will help you.
It’s best to memorize what to do when a boat breaks down on the water so you can react quickly and confidently.