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What can I do if my boat is taking on water?

Even the most responsible and knowledgeable boaters may run into trouble from time to time. One serious occurrence involves your vessel taking on water, which can lead to significant injury or even loss of life if you’re not fully prepared. In this case, Boating recommends the following advice to boaters in danger of sinking.  

Find out where water is leaking

Certain types of leaks can actually be stopped, which will buy you some much needed time. In terms of a cracked hull, try to jam something into the hole to prevent more water from intruding into the boat. You can use any clothing you have available, which should then be fortified to increase pressure on the hole (you can do this with the rod of a fishing pole, for instance). If the leak is coming from a damaged hose, you may be able to shut the associated valve to prevent the flow of water.

Call the Coast Guard

As soon as you realize there is an issue, contact the coastguard immediately. Be prepared with the number of people on the boat with you, where you’re located, and what the problem is. You should also instruct everyone aboard to put on their life jackets it they aren’t wearing them already. If you don’t get a reply within ten seconds, make the call again and continue doing so every ten seconds until you receive a response.

Stay with your boat

If your boat does end up sinking, it’s imperative that you and your passengers stay with it. The Coast Guard will be able to see a capsized boat much better than people in the water. Additionally, you may be able to climb on top of the capsized vessel to reduce the effects of the water.

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