Do you know what to do if someone falls overboard while you are out on your boat? Believe it or not, it happens more than you think. Wet decks and gunnels are slippery and if you are lucky enough to get into fish, that can add a slime element to the whole deal. When wind picks up a notch and you’re dealing with some waves or a wake, it’s even easier for someone to lose their footing and fall overboard.
Falling overboard can be a dangerous matter, but if you know what to do when it happens and you are prepared just in case it does, you can turn a scary incident into a happy ending. So have a floatation device attached to a rope on board and here’s what you need to know…
If a passenger falls off your boat, the first thing you want to do is shout, “Man overboard!” so everyone onboard is aware of what is happening. You also want to immediately turn off your engine. Keep your eye on the victim the entire time. Then toss them a floatation device that is attached to a lifeline to pull the person back toward the boat. If you are too far away to reach the victim with a toss, approach from upwind, keeping your motor safely away from the person.
If you ARE alone on your boat, a GPS with a man overboard key that can pinpoint your location is a good item to have; and always use a kill switch – the ignition auto off switch that will shut off the motor and prevent the boat from circling back. Trust me; you DO NOT want to get run over. Also always make certain to attach the kill switch lanyard securely to your body. As soon as you go over, try to grab ahold of the boat because if the boat begins to drift, you may not get another chance. If there is no ladder, it can help to use the outboard motor to hoist yourself back in the boat. If you have to swim, waterlogged clothes and shoes will weigh you down, so ditch them.