In a recent yachting scare, there was a concerning incident involving a stolen yacht. It was hit by a massive wave and overturned. Although this is a rare occurrence, it highlights the importance of surviving a boat crash.

Safety on open waters is just as important as pool safety. In today’s post, we will explore what to do if your boat capsizes. Surprisingly, capsizing is a major cause of injury and death among boaters. Novice boaters can easily become trapped under an overloaded boat, and weather is always a significant factor in boating safety as well.

To prevent the risks associated with a capsized boat, it is important to take preventative measures. The first step is to check the weather forecast before heading out on the vessel. Knowing about any potential hazardous weather conditions on the water is a key factor in staying safe.

The Daring Yacht Rescue

The United States Coast Guard released footage of the thrilling rescue operation, during which a rescue swimmer saved a man from a 35ft yacht that was flipped over by a huge wave in the Columbia River. The rescuer was dropped into the water from a helicopter and swam to the capsized vessel where the man, identified as Jericho Labonte, had been thrown into the water.

Watch the story and daring rescue here:

Surviving a Boat Crash

Regardless of the circumstances, surviving a boat crash is something everyone should be concerned about. Being careful to stay safe while boating on open water is extremely important. While the giant wave and conditions of this particular rescue are rare, it is critical to pay attention and be prepared, from before you step foot on the boat to when you’re getting off of it.

Capsizing is a significant threat to boaters on open water, and causes injury and death all too often. New boaters are particularly susceptible to becoming trapped under an overloaded boat.  As mentioned above, the weather can also quickly escalate safety concerns. Knowing about any potential dangerous weather conditions beforehand is the first step in maintaining your safety on the water.

Beware of the Cold

Cold water shock is a serious threat to boaters and swimmers alike. In the event of a capsized boat, people can find themselves suddenly immersed in freezing water, exposing them to the risk of cold water shock. Over time, this can lead to hypothermia. To combat these risks, it is important to huddle together with other survivors for warmth. Keep everyone’s bodies close to one another, wrapping arms and legs around each other to conserve as much heat as possible.

Additionally, try to hold onto floating debris in an attempt to keep more of your body out of the water. If possible, avoid swimming for warmth, as this could lead to exhaustion. Most people greatly overestimate the length of time they can tread water. Instead, surviving a boat crash requires conserving energy and trying to use other floating objects. Stay as close to the capsized vessel as possible.

Life Jackets are a Must


Regardless of one’s swimming abilities, it’s important for everyone on a boat, including children, to wear a life jacket. Safety should always be a top priority when it comes to boating. Additionally, it’s crucial to make sure that the life jacket being used is the right one. If it’s not approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, it may not provide adequate protection in an emergency.

For kids, parents should ensure that the smaller life jackets are properly fitted. For instance, the floatation devices should fit snugly and not be too loose. Otherwise, an improperly fitted jacket can easily slide off, leading to a dangerous situation.

Plan Your Trip Ahead

Creating a “float plan” is an important safety step for anyone venturing out on the open water. This document should include your home address, the names of all individuals on the boat, and a general itinerary for the day. It’s a smart way to inform a friend, family member, or local marina of your whereabouts and expected duration of the trip. A printable float plan can be easily found online.