Capsizing at Sea
Below is a list of “Lessons Learned” that may help you if chaos strikes.
A. Before Leaving The Dock
1. Think of Hawaiian waters as blue water sailing
2. Risk assessment— mentally play out “what if” scenarios.
3. Be as self reliant as you can be.
4. Memorize immediate casualty control procedures for flooding,
fire, man overboard, etc
5. Physically practice emergency procedures by conducting
casualty control drills.
6. Review safety procedures with crew. Crew should be assigned specific
responsibilities in case of an emergency.
7. File Float Plan. For day-sails, file verbally with someone you trust.
8. Check location of ALL safety equipment and proper operation.
9. Keep damage control plugs tied to sea-cocks and thru-hulls.
10. Ensure VHF radio is working properly prior to underway.
11. Know MAYDAY radio transmission procedures cold.
12. Always have “Ditch Bag” ready, even for short day-sails.
13. Signaling Devices: SOLAS devices are much better and worth the extra expense.
14. Stowage of signaling devices should be in a secure, floatable container. Barrel
shaped Olin containers do not stay close.
15. Night time flares do not have adequate illumination for day use.
16. EPIRB’s: Consider 406 Mhz with GPS positioning feature vice 121 Mhz. They
are worth the extra expense
17. Have emergency steering plan and equipment and have it rigged and tested.
18. Keep onboard spare parts and tools, i.e. engine filters, saltwater impeller,
packing gland, etc
19. Keep detailed, written maintenance/repair records with photographs, especially
during haul outs and yard periods.
20. Keep inventory/receipts of personal effects. Consider replacement cost insurance.
21. Estate Planning: conduct routine review and update wills, trusts, life insurance,
benefactors, important papers prior to leaving the dock.
B. During Crisis
1. When trouble occurs, time is your worst enemy.
2. Quick reaction is key to survival.
3. When flooding, floating debris in cabin creates chaos.
4. When in the water, stay with the boat.
C. After Rescue (and hull is still floating)
1. Notify insurance company right away.
2. Initiate salvage operations immediately.
Time greatly expands area of probability to locate the hull.
3. Air search far better than surface search for locating hull
4. File NOTAMS immediately.
5. U.S. Coast Guard does not conduct salvage operations.
6. Thank the U.S. Coast Guard who saved your butt.