What Should You Do After Your Boat Runs Aground and You Determine That There Are No Leaks?


What Does It Mean For A Boat To Run Aground?

A grounded vessel on the beach or in shallow water becomes stuck. This could be because the boat is too big or small for the canal, or because the waterway has become too shallow.

When a boat gets grounded, the people aboard and the environment are both at risk, as the boat may begin to absorb water and sink. Authorities may be necessary to help liberate the boat depending on the region. 

Minimizing the danger of an accident by only operating in channels approved by the local coast guard or by using GPS navigation devices is an excellent way to avoid a boat going aground. 

The first line of defense should a boat run aground is to alter direction quickly. If this fails, pound the ground side of your vessel with a hammer or other blunt object to dislodge it.

What Should You Do If Your Boat Runs Aground?

If your boat has run aground, the first thing you should do is look for leaks. If you are fortunate to have no leaks, you can liberate your boat by jacking it up and using a hoist to remove it off the rocks. 

Leaks must be halted, and damaged components repaired or replaced if warranted. You can also take the following additional precautions:

  • Evacuate passengers from the boat as quickly and safely as possible.
  • If the boat is stuck in shallow water, try pushing or pulling on the propeller to dislodge it. If she is in deeper water, remove any cargo that may become stuck.
  • Move the bulk of the craft’s weight to the side where it sank the least.
  • Endeavor to get out of the sea as soon as possible if the vessel breaks up. If you’re swimming or rafting, keep your head above water.
  • Keep an eye out for other vessels and swimmers at all times. They may be willing to aid you.
  • Should you notice someone in need and can assist them without putting yourself in jeopardy, please do so.

How Can You Tell If There Are Any Leaks?

You should always check for leaks should your watercraft hit aground. This could be done by inspecting the hull for damage, checking the bilges for water, and listening for water coming from the piping or engine. 

You’ll need to remedy any leaks you notice before your craft sinks. As a general rule, inspect the sailboat for leaks every two weeks. Any leaks you see should be repaired immediately. If your yacht has a live well, make sure it isn’t overflowing!

If the above procedures are still unclear, consider the following tips for assessing whether or not there are any leaks:

  • Look for water surrounding the boat or underneath it.
  • Listen for bubbling or dripping water.
  • Look for moist places on the deck or the craft’s underbelly.
  • Examine the inside walls and ceiling for moist patches.
  • Look inside the boat for any traces of water and contact a marine repair company as soon as possible if you find any.

Should you suspect a leak, remove the water as soon as possible and dry your boat to avoid mildew and bacteria from forming.

What Do You Do When There Are No Leaks?

If your ship hits aground and no leaks are discovered, the first step is to analyze the situation. Calculate the amount of time before your boat is completely submerged. If it really is safe to do so, dislodge the boat from the sandbar or reef. 

If it isn’t possible, keep the boat in place with a tow rope or an anchor. After that, double-check that everyone is okay. Next, determine where the boat is lodged and whether any adjacent reefs or obstructions exist. 

Then start pumping out the water with a bilge pump. If at all feasible, use a portable pump instead of the one onboard your boat. Attempt to start the engine and return to land once the majority of the water has already been cleared. 

If you seem unable to start the engine, call for backup. A marine salvage company may decide to supply you with a salvage certificate if indeed the boat is unsalvageable. If the boat can be recovered, repair it to its best possible condition and it will be ready to sail again.

After this quick review of the best course of action should a craft run aground, let’s go over each step in detail for a thorough understanding.

Assessment of the Situation

This is divided into two parts:

Examine your Vessel for Any Damage

If you suffered no leaks when your ship went aground, your first decision should be to inspect it for damage. This includes looking for broken or knocked-over objects, inspecting the hull and deck for physical damage, and inspecting all fuel tanks for leaks. 

This will allow you to determine whether you need a tow truck or if the damage can be repaired on your own. Here are four methods for spotting damage:

  1. Water should be at least two feet below the top of the engine block. If that’s not the case, there could be water inside the engine. Turn the engine off and drain any water that has built up inside.
  2. Next, look for signs of coolant leaks in the radiator. If there is no water in the engine or coolant in the radiator, it’s advisable to take a short test drive to see whether there are any additional issues.
  3. Remove anything that could obstruct water flow. Anything that could be utilized as a floatation device or a shelter falls under this category.
  4. Look for any broken or displaced things on the deck and below.

Take Inventory of your Equipment and Supplies

Following a thorough assessment of your predicament, inventory your craft’s contents to decide what needs to be fixed or replaced. If you have to stay aboard, make absolutely sure you have enough food, drink, fuel, and safe locations in the vessel. Above all, ensure everyone’s safety on board and respond to every injury.

Secure the Boat 

Your watercraft just went to ground, and you’re fortunate leaks are not part of your headache. Your problems, however, are far from over; the worst is still to come. 

Depending on how close you are to shore, you may need to exit and land for your safety, especially if this is your first time in such a situation. Ensuring the safety of your boat and that it is ready to use after this disaster is a top priority. 

Make sure the boat is secure before leaving it so it doesn’t float away. If you live close to a dock, you can solve your problem by attaching your boat to it or using a mooring system. Before landing ashore, you might have to lower your vessel’s anchor into the sea.

If Necessary, Request Assistance

If the situation becomes too much for you to handle, do not hesitate to seek assistance. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as the adage goes. 

We recommend contacting the local marina or harbormaster and waiting for assistance after assessing the damage and collecting inventory. 

While this may grate on some boaters’ pride, keep in mind that these professionals are trained to handle all sorts of boating emergencies and are your best bet to get out with the least feasible damage. Knowing your way around the waterways and having contact information for locals is always a smart idea.

Towing the Boat

You may decide to tow your boat ashore to assist with renovations after running to the ground and following safety precautions. Here are some pointers to get you started.

  • Choose the best boat towing vehicle and plan your towing approach.
  • Secure your boat before towing.
  • Make sure you’re using the appropriate mooring ball weight.
  • Use a tow ramp if necessary.

Clean up the Area Surrounding the Boat

If your craft hit aground and you had no leaks, you’ll need to clean the area around it. This entails draining all water and removing dirt, and debris. Inspect the hull for any signs of damage as well.

You’ll need to dry the area after you’ve cleaned it. To speed up the process, several methods such as solar power and electric fans can be used.

To remove all of the water from the boat, you can use a blower or a garden hose. After the vessel has dried completely, apply an anti-fouling coat. This is a critical procedure that will protect your craft from additional harm. Once you’ve completed repairs, your watercraft awaits being used. 

Move On

Once your vessel has been restored, continue on your journey. Staying there and risking another disaster is pointless unless that was your intended destination all along. Avoid going aground again by being more cautious on your journey.

Always expect the unexpected when sailing, and if your boat runs aground, employ the aforementioned precautions to be safe.

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