Your Boat Capsizes But Remains Afloat What Should You Do?

Boating is a hobby or a career that anyone can be involved in with the right training and resources. Boating can be fun, however, one common incident is capsizing the boat. When you capsize your boat, the question is, what should we do, especially if it remains afloat?

The first thing to do is to stay calm. When a boat capsizes, do not panic and evaluate the situation. Next, if possible, get out of the water to avoid environmental issues. Finally, use any emergency means to get a signal out for help and to survive as long as possible.

Regardless of the situation, there will always be something you can do to ensure safety and protection. Let’s go ahead and discuss the plethora of methods one can do to increase their chance of survival and getting help.


To start, one requires the mentality or the will to live. Whether the boat is close to land, or far distance in a large body of water, one must have that need for survival and this alone can ensure survival.

What we should always do right away when an incident like capsizing your boat occurs, is to stay as calm as possible. Staying calm allows you to retain a clear mind and the ability to assess your surroundings, evaluating your current condition, the boat’s condition, and anyone else’s condition.

Having a clear mind allows us to be cautious and make an informed decision on what to do next when one resource is either ineffective or effective. They will always progress in their survival rate, along with anyone else’s. Last note, no boat is worth your or someone else’s life. Make sure you and others are safe and secured more than the boat.

Now, for those who are not calm and retain this clear mind, their judgment is clouded, making their decision-making ineffective, and even more deadly than the situation already is. This will enable someone to take more unreasonable risks and decrease those chances of survival.

Such ineffective actions are moving too much in the water, going back and forth to the boat, and not using the proper emergency items. Granted, some emergency items will be unattainable, but one can improvise and find resources that can simulate such items for the continuation of life.

Stay Out of the Water

As mentioned earlier, reducing water exposure is your next goal. In nearly all capsize situations, the water will be cold, and keeping out of it is the best option. An obvious issue with remaining in the cold water is hypothermia. According to some, body heat is reduced 25 times faster in water than does air.

Another consequence of remaining in the water is the weight that clothes absorb. For example, cotton-based clothing can absorb about 25 times its own weight. This is a significant weight increase and can be extremely deadly for those who are fatigued or cannot swim, in which drowning may be their primary death.

As for specific methods to reduce water exposure, one is simple: get on the boat. In this article, we are concerned about a floated capsized boat, which means the boat remains floating above water regardless of its current position. If close to land, it is better to travel towards land than the boat.

If far out on the waters, get to the boat and find any means to lift yourself on top of it. Even if you are unable to fully remove yourself from the water, having most of your body on a surface that is not water is better than nothing.

Finally, any clothing on, especially cotton or nylon made and heavily weighted clothing, remove it and use it as a life jacket if one is not readily available. Use it for anything but wearing it as regular clothes.

Check out our article on: Best Place To Put PFDs While You Are Out On Your Boat?

Other Emergency Means

For this last segment, we will briefly discuss other methods on can do to survive and in what scenarios.

As previously mentioned, there may be others with you who are in the same situation. Priority for survival is first yourself and then others. Just like the proper procedures with airlines, making sure you are secured first is a priority before prioritizing your efforts on others.

There is nothing worse than having one who can’t help themselves attempt to help others. These will result in potentially preventable injuries and death. Again, remaining calm is key for effective emergency actions.

If the capsized boat begins to float away from you, there are a few options one can do, if you have the strength and are able to, swim towards the boat and remain as close as possible as it provides protection from wind and acts as a shelter.

Another is to tread water by keeping away from the boat as it is a source of water waves. Treading water means the water is as still as it can be, allowing the individual to remain afloat with reduced consequences of rapid waves. Finally, if possible, quickly grab onto the boat and allow it to take you wherever it goes. Again, using the boat as a source of shelter is the goal.

Lastly, once you are secured by hanging on the boat or floating steadily on the water, now it is time to use whatever means to signal for help. Having flares, a whistle, or a flashlight will help. If you do not have access to either of these items, using what you got to appear larger in water may help in identifying by other boats and even airplanes.

If you’re using what you got, make sure you still have a hold on whatever items you currently possess at the time, to make sure you have as much backup as possible. Losing any item in the water is a bad sign and limits the creativity one must have for survival.

In conclusion, always be ready for a situation that would warrant taking emergency actions. Always keep your mind clear and ensure your safety and security before attending to others. Hope this article helped give you an idea of what to do with a capsized boat and promote action when required.

Project Stay CalmBoating

Check out our article on: Where Is The Best Place To Store A Fire Extinguisher On A Boat?

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Project Boating Editorial Staff

My name is Brad Visser the chief editor and owner of We have an amazing team of writers that contribute to our website. This team is passionate about boating and have years of experience not only in boats, but in writing helpful, informative articles to answer questions you may have.

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