Step 1) Determine whether passengers and the vessel are in danger.
Step 2) Immediately shift the motor to neutral.
Step 3) Visually and/or verbally confirm that all passengers are present and accounted for.
Step 4) Ensure that everyone is wearing a life jacket or PFD.
Step 5) Determine if there are other craft in the vicinity that may offer assistance.
Step 6) Determine if there is any danger of being hit by other boat traffic.
Step 7) Inspect the hull and equipment for any damage. Check for rising or accumulating water in the hull.
Step 8) If the hull is undamaged, assess your course of action:
- Is it possible to dislodge the craft from its obstruction?
- Is it necessary to lighten the craft by removing equipment and passengers?
- Is it possible that passengers may be able to carefully push the craft off the obstruction?
- Is it possible to use the reverse thrust of the engine to free the craft from the obstruction (without revving the engine)?
Step 9) If necessary, signal your need for help using a recognized distress signal.
Safe Boating Tip
Your first reaction when running aground might be to rev the engine in reverse in an effort to dislodge your craft–this is the one thing you should not do. You could damage your boat’s rudder or propeller. You might also suck sand or mud into your engine’s cooling system. Always consult a marine chart for the area in which you’ll be operating. Being aware of the water depth and the draft that your boat requires will ensure you can avoid running aground and damaging your propeller.