It happens even to skilled boaters. One minute, you’re cruising along on a sunny day, skimming your boat effortlessly end the water. The next minute, friend hear a loud crunch and suddenly feeling a sickening jolt — you’ve run aground.

You are watching: What should you do first if your boat runs aground?

According come the coast Guard, ground connection is the fourth-most-common kind of boating accident in the unified States. It’s easier to operation aground than you could think. Often, peril buoys have the right to alert boaters come shallow waters, yet sometimes shallow locations have no markers, and also boaters obtain stuck on a shoal, reef or sandbar they never ever knew to be there.

Do you recognize what come do when you operation aground? you can constantly radio for help, however many boaters would quite not take it drastic activity before castle absolutely have actually to. Fortunately, when your watercraft runs aground, you can shot several procedures to complimentary yourself prior to calling in the cavalry.

Table that Contents

What to perform as quickly as You operation Aground

Once you’ve run aground, you don’t desire to shot to extricate you yourself without taking stock of the instance first. Law so could make any damage worse. Instead, follow these preparatory actions when you’ve run aground:

Check because that injuries: The first step you must take once you run aground doesn’t have to do with your watercraft at all. It’s to inspect for injuries amongst your passengers. Running aground deserve to be jarring. The force of the impact can reason passengers to fall, or it have the right to turn items and equipment into projectiles that can seriously injure your passengers. Prior to figuring the end your following steps, take it a minute to make sure everyone on plank is okay.

Be patient: Don’t immediately shot to reverse, or you could damage her boat. In the worst-case scenario, if you press off and then acquire underway, the hull the your watercraft could give method beneath you. This issue often occurs when the force of running aground smashes the rudder or propellers the the boat through the hull, but even outboards and stern-drive boats can suffer major hull damages when they operation aground.


Shut off her engine: when a boat gets grounded, that is cooling water intakes frequently fill v silt and also debris, so turn your engine turn off to protect against overheating it. Even if the doesn’t look like your intake grates or sea strainers have actually been compromised, save on eye on your engine temperature once you’re ago underway. If your boat has a pressure gauge, examine it — it need to show any kind of decrease in cold water flow. Damaged shafts and also struts can likewise harm her engine, therefore it’s a an excellent idea to have your engine powered off until you can check for damage.

Check for gasoline leaks: Usually, a rapid sniff that the air roughly the watercraft should be sufficient to call you whether your watercraft is leaking gasoline. Perform not acting or turn your engine earlier on if your boat is leaking fuel.

Put on your life jackets: even if you’ve inspected your hull and there’s no visible damage, it’s always possible there’s a crack somewhere you can’t see. Once you’re underway again, wear her life jackets just in case hidden structural damages has compromised the structural integrity of your boat. If you’ll it is in stuck for a while, placed on your life jackets in situation of fall or gift swept into deep waters.

Set a kedge anchor: Setting a kedge anchor helps save the tide from pushing your watercraft further ~ above the shore. Your primary anchor is likely in the bow, and since your bow is stuck, that is anchor is of small use. A kedge anchor, however, deserve to be useful in stability a watercraft that has actually run aground. That lighter weight also makes the quicker and also easier come maneuver. Shot to collection the kedge anchor as far into deeper water together you can. Either walk out — utilizing caution — or heat out in her dinghy if you have one.

Assess the damage: Look end your boat carefully. Inspect to check out whether the watercraft has sustained just cosmetic damage, favor scrapes, or whether cracks or feet have showed up where water can seep through. If your boat is taking on water, you’ll have to start pumping out your bilges and also figuring the end an emergency plan. Don’t forget to think about your rudders and also propellers. If these extend below the level the the hull, they may be damaged, even if the hull looks intact.

Assess bottom conditions: If you’re grounding on a hard, rocky bottom, your finest efforts to press off may concerned nothing. A hard, rocky bottom is also much more likely to have damaged your boat or to cause an ext damage if you shot to press off also rapidly. If you’ve operation aground top top a soft, muddy bottom, you was standing a much better chance of gift able to push off without incident.

Assess the weather: Scan the sky and also the horizon. If girlfriend see indicators that a storm is blow in, you’ll need to move quickly. An incoming storm can whip increase winds and waves that may push your boat further aground, i m sorry can damage it additional or make it an ext firmly stuck.

Signal or radio for help: If your boat is also damaged come use, one alternative is to signal or radio for another vessel to help you. Towing one more vessel have the right to be tricky, however, for this reason make certain the operator the the other boat is knowledgeable and experienced.

Call a commercial towing company: If your boat needs a tow ago to shore, your best bet is more than likely to contact a advertising towing company. A advertising towing firm has the tools and expertise come hook up and tow your watercraft safely.

How to Refloat her Boat

If your boat hasn’t sustained significant damage, you can try to get it floating again by trying out with the complying with steps:

Check the water depth: If your boat seems okay, check the depth the the water in the area whereby you’ve operation aground. You can use charts to check out the topography that the sea or lake bottom, and also you have the right to use a watercraft hook, a weighted line or a handheld depth finder to inspect the water depth in your immediate area. Checking the water depth help you determine whether you can safely push off and in what direction.

Determine the following high tide: If you want to offer yourself the best chance of obtaining your boat floating again, check tide tables to figure out when the next high tide will be. It’s difficult to press off in the shallow water of low tide. You want the neighboring water to be as high as possible so that as soon as you shot to move, friend don’t simply run aground once more.

Lighten her load: Pump out your bilges, dump her water tanks and also move passengers and heavy objects into a dinghy if it’s for sure to carry out so. Lightening your load may offer your boat some extra lift and make it much easier to float free.

Slowly press off: If girlfriend haven’t run too far aground, and if the floor is relatively soft, you may have the ability to push off safely by using an oar or boat hook. Prior to doing so, background the outdrive motor if you have actually one. Be certain to keep checking your watercraft for leaks and also other damage as you push off. If anything looks wrong, don’t continue. Make sure your boat hasn’t turned such the you’re backing right into shallower water, which can seriously damage your propellers and rudder.

Get out and push: If pushing turn off with things doesn’t work, shot having a couple of people obtain out that the watercraft and shot to push it back into the water.

Winch off using your kedge anchor line: If pushing off from the shore is ineffective, you may have the ability to haul her boat ago into the water by making use of a winch on her kedge anchor line. Law this generates an ext force and can aid get a stuck watercraft moving.


Reverse off: If you can safely do so, shot reversing off under engine power. Using your engine when you’ve operation aground is most likely to stir increase debris, which have the right to lead to clogs and overheating. Nevertheless, powering can aid you gain your boat unstuck if pushing turn off is ineffective. Shift your passengers right into the stern to lighten the weight on the bow, wherein the boat is grounded. Then revolve on her engines, put them into reverse and see if that’s enough to gain your watercraft free.

Rock ago and forth: If you have actually twin engines, alternate bursts of strength from either next of your watercraft can assist your watercraft wiggle backward into deeper water. If your watercraft has just one engine, friend can try moving the rudder from next to next to produce the same effect. If you have two engines, and also you’ve run aground at an angle, walking forward through the engine closest to shore while reversing v the other engine can also assist your boat turn and slip free.

Power off at an angle: This an approach works best if you’ve run aground in ~ an oblique angle. If you try to power off, yet you’re no at one angle, every you’ll do is run much more firmly aground. Turn your engines on and go front while turning your rudder hard toward depth water.

Use a passing wake to her advantage: If the bottom is soft and also your boat hasn’t operation too much aground, friend might have the ability to use the wake up of a passing courage to assist lift yourself free. Coordinate her engine thrust through the time of the wake to offer your boat an extra boost.

Use a dinghy to assist pivot: This an approach is risky and is ideal used by knowledgeable boaters, but it have the right to be effective. It also works ideal if you’ve run aground in ~ an oblique angle, so the the depth water is turn off to the side of the boat rather than directly astern. In this situation, if you have a dinghy, you deserve to sometimes usage it to push the bow the your boat into depths water. Because this exercise is complicated and risks damaging both your boat’s hull and also the dinghy’s, it’s finest to shot other alternatives first.

How to avoid Running Aground


Though you can shot many tricks come get totally free when you’ve run aground, the best tactic, that course, is to protect against running aground in ~ all. Knowing just how to keep from to run aground is vital to store your boating work fun and stress-free:

Study navigational charts: If you’ll it is in boating in unfamiliar waters, take it time to research navigational charts before you head out. Knowing what depths and features you’ll it is in boating into can help you steer a secure course.

Talk come knowledgeable people: before you head out, additionally spend time talk to marina staff or boaters who know the area well. Lock can aid alert you to unmarked or hard-to-see risks in the water.

Carry charts in the boat: To avoid running aground, bring local charts and also know just how to use them. If you can’t uncover marking buoys or you get confused around which tricky-to-navigate areas are where, a quick examine of your charts can assist you get it sorted out.

Contact Formula boats for watercrafts With advanced Navigation Tools


To aid prevent to run aground, invest in a boat that supplies the latest advanced navigation tools.

Formula watercrafts can help. Once you acquisition a stylish, an effective boat from us, you’ll also get the confidence and also peace that mind that come v our state-of-the-art navigating systems. If you acquire a tiny off course, your onboard navigation device can obtain you earlier on track in no time. You’ll have reliable aid in avoiding underwater hazards.

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Our luxurious boats are also fully customizable, so you have the right to get precisely the sleek, stylish watch you want to go along with a powerful engine and also top-notch dealing with performance. You might have had perfect job on the water before, however a boat from Formula will aid take your funny in the sunlight to a whole new level.