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Need tips on what to do in an emergency-gctid366720

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    Need tips on what to do in an emergency-gctid366720

    Last week I posted an article in dock walk about a couple guys out on their boat in the gulf and it started taking on water quickly. The boat sank and they were left floating in the gulf. One survived. I've been thinking about that, and I'm embarrassed to say, if that happened to me, I'm not sure what to do.

    Say I was a couple miles off the coast and the boat started taking on water fast. What do I do first? Do I attempt to fix the problem, and if so, at what point do I call it quits and go with plan B? And what is plan B? Here's a list of things I can think of...

    - Call for help on the radio. Put out a mayday call. But what channel? 16?

    - Grab a cell phone.

    - Make sure everyone is wearing life jackets. The kids are always in them. Always. My wife and I are not, but we always have them out and close by within reach.

    - The dink is usually with us tied to the swim platform, so I think my next step would be to untie that and get everyone on board in the dink. Should I try to get the engine and gas tank on there? Not sure.

    - Go in the cabinet and try to grab some flares and water if available.

    - There's a million other things that I can think of, like having sunblock, or pulling sheets off the bed for protection against the sun, but I just don't know if there's time for all that.

    Basically, with something similar like this happening to one of our own BOC members last year, and now reading that article, I'm just a little freaked out...and I'm mainly freaked out because I don't know what to do in that situation. And I just want to be as prepared as possible in case something like that happens.

    Thanks for listening (reading).

    2003 Bayliner 305 - SOLD!
    Twin 5.7L, Carb'd, 445 hours
    Bravo II drives

    We have always kept a ditch bag onboard- basically, it's a bag that is readily accessible to throw overboard as we go over the side. Out ditch bag always contains:
    • current flares (aerial and hand held)
    • waterproof floating VHF radio
    • floating plastic mirror
    • water
    • ziplocked food like granola bars, fruit rolls, etc.
    • some fishing line and tackle
    • floating knife
    • rope
    • first aid kit

    Here's the sequence of events in the event of an emergency:

    life preservers on for all

    hit the emergency button on the VHF (you do have the DSC radio, connected to the GPS and an MMSI number, yes?)

    grab the ditch bag

    if there's time, untie the dinghy, grab whatever may be useful (clothes, food, etc) and put it into the dinghy. Get into the dinghy and go.

    If not, over the side everyone goes, and swim away from the boat

    tie everyone together, break out the VHF, and see if you can contact help on channel 16

    wait for help

    Putting together a ditch bag takes all of 15 minutes. We keep ours in a cabinet on the upper deck- always easy access.

    Most important- brief your crew/passengers before you leave, and, if the crap hits the fan, be calm and take command of the situation.


      Put together a ditch kit, use a waterproof bag, it will float.

      Channel 16 maday if boat is sinking or on fire.

      Bayliner 3870 "ALASKA33)
      Twin 350 GM power
      Located in Seward, AK
      Retired marine surveyor


        One of the fun activities we do on our boat is a Man Overboard drill. (I don't want the wife to think she has an excuse to return to the dock w/o me...)


          Pete has some excellent suggestions and you should do man over board drills. Being a former sailor, we did MOB a lot. The rules, even for power boats are the same. Do a quick 180 turn as a passenger points to the MOB (if another person is on board), if no 2nd person on board then you watch the person and do all your turns to the helm side (IE keep an eye on the MOB at all times) and adjust power without looking at any controls. You need to focus on the MOB ONLY... If you have presence of mind, head into the wind like you would for anchoring keeping the person in view and on the helm side of the boat. As you approach the person, go to neutral and hope the boat is set to drift to the MOB. If you can, drop the swim step ladder and haul the MOB back on board.

          The key is no matter what side your helm is on, keep turning the boat to the helm side. Probably the reason for losing sight of the MOB is rough seas and it takes no time at all to lose sight of a MOB in white capped seas.

          Practice with a spare life jacket first and after you get good, use a heavy weighted jacket to simulate a person or if the waters are warm, use a person and practice practice practice. There are many good youtube vids to watch on this...

          We keep a ditch bag above the passenger seat and wear our life jacket suspenders all the time. When sleeping in the cabin, we hang our suspenders on the bathroom door which is on the way out the cabin to the aft cockpit area so we can grab that, the ditch bag and portable hand held VHF radio on the way to the stern and hopefully have time to drop the dink. I do keep a folding buck knife on my belt and could use that to free the dink lines from the boat.

          Our ditch bag has the same stuff as Pete's but we also have a hand crank radio (in vacuum bag), whistle, floating flashlight, and dye markers.
          Doug ;}
          MMSI: 338068776
          "Go Aweigh to" Photos < click on red letters... 2001 Bayliner 2452 w/6.2 HO (paid for)



            If you are in a emergency, in this case a flooding that you've determined you cannot control...

            While everybody is donning lifejackets...

            First, call on channel 16 a mayday. Do this first because you'll very quickly flood the batteries and loose the ability to call for help.

            This procedure is simple, and you need to practice it.


            Repeat this at least twice. This should start a very short radio conversation with the nearest USCG station. Then you KNOW help is on the way.

            Grab the ditch bag, get in your skiff if you have one, and then set off your EPIRB

            If you do not have an EPIRB buy one. They're cheap and would have saved the life of the Texas boater that died.

            KEVIN SANDERS

            Whats the weather like on the boat

            Where am I right now?


              The ditch bag is a must but it needs to be accessable. It's no good stowed below decks somewhere and it is the very last resort. Do everything possible and I mean everything to find and slow the leak.

              Never get into a dinghy/life raft untill you have to step UP to get into it. It's not where you want to find yourself.



                • Get your ditch bag set up as described previously.
                • Have you got your MMSI programmed into the radio and the radio connected to the plotter?
                • Get the entire family familiar with the radio and the chartplotter. They need to know how to mark a MOB position and how to make a proper mayday call, securite call and a pan pan call.
                • You can and should issue a mayday for anything that is immediately threatening to life. It doesn't have to be a fire or sinking.
                • Read up on man overboard drills before you try one. Plan for it and involve everybody.
                • When studying for your MOB drill, check on the proper ways to get back to the person in the water. There are styles of turns that work and some that won't. Google Q-turn, Anderson turn, and Williamson turn. They each have a specific purpose.
                • Don't abandon a sinking boat any sooner than you must. The rule of thumb is you step UP to get in the dinghy.


                  This is some fantastic information. Exactly what i was looking for. Thank you.
                  2003 Bayliner 305 - SOLD!
                  Twin 5.7L, Carb'd, 445 hours
                  Bravo II drives


                    One thing not mentioned here that I think is one of the most vital. Remain calm, when you panic, you cant think. Calm yourself.

                    That being said, I need to get a ditch bag, though I can pretty much swim to shore wherever I am, I still think its a good idea.


                      If your offshore, as in boating in saltwater, make sure you have a few gallons of drinking water stashed in your dinghy.
                      John Rupp
                      1989 2455 Ciera Sunbridge
                      5.8 OMC Cobra

                      1989 3288
                      Hino 135


                        Buy a waterproof handheld VHF. I have one aboard whenevr I am boating. If you are only a few miles offshore, and you have to go to the dinghy, this will be what you will talk to the CG with.Also, they can home in on a VHF signal, they cant on a cellphone.

                        Another thing. If you put out a mayday, someone close can come to you aid. VHF radios broadcast, and is heard by all in that area. A cellphone... most useful for calling your insurance company afterwards.

                        Key the radio on Channel 16.

                        "mayday (3 times) this is (3 times).

                        I am taking on water.

                        There are XX people on board, and they are in lifejackets

                        My position is: ( reference to a marker or a land object is OK, Example: we are about 2 miles off Point Judith light)

                        estimate staying afloat XXX minutes

                        describe boat

                        my crew is aboard my dinghy while I am trying to find the source of the water"

                        The CG WILL answer you.

                        While they are asking you questions, they have a rescue boat on the way, They are supposed to engage you in conversation to attempt to calm you. Just say you want to find the leak, but can hear the radio.
                        Captharv 2001 2452
                        "When the draft of your boat exceeds the depth of water, you are aground"


                          we have a bright Orange home depot bucket with lid full of our emergency items and handheld VHF radio.. its got all we need in one spot and it floats incase..

                          VHF handheld, flares, batteries, solar blankets, fishing items, ziplock of protein bars, waterproof matches, small tarp in orignal wrapper thats easy store around sides of inner bucket, compass, emergency whistles on each life vest, cell phones...salt water tablets to make fresh, dry fire starters.....

                          the list could fill our 12ft zodiac.. you have to fill the bucket kit with basic items incase.. toss in your skiff and go fast... signal for mayday before leaving.. give readings of where your at and what your doing.... ALWAYS ALWAYS tell someone where your going and if you dont come back by a certain time... relay a message or leave cell message...

                          we have gone to different places while fishing, and each time in cell zone, I call and tell where we are.. God forbid incase...


                            We boat here on Lake Havasu and don't have a ditch bag, as we can swim to shore almost anywhere on the lake. However, last year we towed the boat to SoCal ocean waters for a shakedown trip. We were only in open water for an hour or so, going from Marina Del Rey to San Pedro. We were on the bridge, wearing ski vests, and vowed to get inflatables before the next trip. As we were cruising at @ 22kts up and over the mild swells, it occurred to me that I could easily get tossed over the side, and there was no kill switch! There was a hole in the dash for one, and now we have one.

                            We also made a list for a ditch bag, similar to what has been listed. The other critical thing that many people don't consider, is to assign jobs to your regular crew, in my case, Tara. She is also skilled at operating the boat if I'm tossed over or otherwise incapacitated. We do need a backup lanyard, however, the engine CAN be started from the lower helm, even when the bridge lanyard is missing. As previously stated, practice, practice, practice...
                            Jeff & Tara (And Hobie too)
                            Lake Havasu City, AZ
                            Current: 2022 Sun Tracker Sport Fish 22 XP3 w/ Mercury 200
                            2000 Bayliner 3388 Cummins 4bta 250s (SOLD 2020)
                            2000 Bayliner 2858 MCM 7.4 MPI B3 (SOLD 2018)
                            2007 Bayliner 305 MCM twin 350 Mag B3s (SOLD 2012)
                            2008 Bayliner 289 MCM 350 Mag Sea Core B3 (SOLD 2009)
                            And 13 others...
                            In memory of Shadow (7-2-10,) and Ginger (5-11-21.)
                            Best boat dogs ever! Rest in peace girls...


                              It is interesting how different CG area's supply different info -

                              For example, in our area, Northern California, the CG advises on a MayDay call to first say MayDay 3 times, then position, THEN # of persons on board, then nature of distress, etc.

                              Their thinking is to get the most vital info out first, second, third, etc. And to them it is position (to find you) # of people (so they know how many to look for) then nature of distress (so they can prepare for what you have). If your radio goes / is going dead, you want the first 2 things they hear is position and how many people to look for.

                              Just throwing this out for thought.