If you run your boat aground what should you do first?

If you run your boat aground what should you do first

The first thing stops the engine. The next thing that you should do is get on the radio and see if there are other boats nearby and get them for help. The third thing you should do is look around to see if anyone is injured or not. Then, take the other actions as per your judgment.

If you’re ever in a situation where your boat has become stuck on land, whether it’s in a shallow area or along a beach, what’s the most important thing you should do?

This question has come up a lot in our Ask the Experts chat. Our answer: The most important thing you can do is to ensure that all of the emergency procedures are complete, including knowing how to turn off the engines.

Next, you need to move slowly away from the shore, away from high-risk areas (which include shallow water, rocky shoals, and other obstructions), and stop your boat and turn off the engine(s). And be careful when exiting the boat! Your life jacket, personal flotation device, and helmet are all important safety items that should be checked and make sure they are working.

Once you are far enough from the coast and you’re safe from the ocean, and all that’s going on around you, the next step is to assess the situation. You can start by checking for damage to your hull and the dock, and you can take photos to show evidence of the condition.

boat aground
Boat aground/ image: BOATERexam.com

If you run your boat aground what should you do first?

You might be wondering what you need to do first if your boat runs aground. You’re not alone. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. What should we do when this happens? Step one is to avoid panic, step two is to assess the situation and make a plan of action for getting your boat back into the water. So let’s get started with step one: don’t panic.

Check your crew

If you or anyone else on your boat is injured, make sure they are comfortable and send someone to the cabin for a first aid kit.

If no one is injured, make an assessment of the situation. How bad are you grounded? Is it a hard grounding where the boat is actually resting on the bottom or is it just a soft ground where you might be able to get off if you beach her?

Stop immediately

Stop the boat engine first, so you don’t hurt the prop. Don’t try to move the boat in reverse. This will only dig the props in deeper and you’ll get sucked into the mud.

If you’re grounded on an even keel, with equal weight on both sides of your boat, shift the weight to one side so your boat will be easier to get back into the water.

If you have more than one boat in that area, call for help. Your buddy might be able to back you off the bottom with his boat or at least provide backup.

Use boathook

If there is enough water, get out of the boat and help push with a boathook or other object like an oar. Just don’t fall off into the water when you’re pushing.

If this doesn’t work, back up and try again—but only if you’ve got enough water to back up and get some momentum.

Check for damage to your propeller, shaft, and rudder. This is important. If you have a prop protector on your boat, check to make sure it’s still there.

Check for leaks

If your boat is taking on water, immediately bail her out. If there are any leaks make a note of them in case you need to inform the surveyor if you end up needing repairs.

If it is, check to see where the water is coming in. Is the leak small and manageable? You may just be able to plug it with a bucket or use your bilge pump. Or you might need something more drastic like a bailing pump.

Open the seacocks to let out any water that might have gotten inside. Check your fuel levels and add more if needed. Also, check for other supplies you might need.

Summon help quickly

If you can’t fix the problem, your next step is to summon help. This is where your visual distress signals and radio come in handy.

If you have a VHF radio onboard, check to see if there are any other boats in the area that might be able to help out. Don’t assume someone will come along and assist you. Be proactive and let everyone know you’ve got a problem. And don’t forget about your cell phone or satellite telephone if you have one onboard your boat.

If there is a Coast Guard station nearby, they can send out a rescue team to come to tug your boat off the bottom.

How do you stop stranding or grounding?

“Grounding” can happen for a number of reasons. Bad navigation, faulty instruments, bad weather, or an engine breakdown are all possible explanations for why you might get stranded or stuck.

Here are just some examples to help you avoid being grounded in the future.

Consult nautical chart

It may seem like a lot of work, but the more you know about your surroundings and what to expect from them before heading out on the water, the better off you’ll be.

If you’re navigating in unfamiliar areas for the first time, take some time to consult with local marinas or other boaters that have been there before. They can tell you where not to go as well as how to safely navigate through those areas without running into any hidden dangers. In this case, knowledge is power. With all of these helpful tips at your fingertips now, it’s never too late–or too early.

Keep a lookout

You can run aground and get into trouble on a calm, clear day if you’re not paying close attention.

If you want to avoid running aground, make sure your eyes are always on the lookout for buoys and markers indicating shallow water as well as shoals or sandbars.

Maintain a safe speed

Never drive too fast. Always maintain a safe speed. It might not seem like much of an issue when there aren’t any underwater hazards ahead, but what if you were about to drive over one?

One of the most important things you can do to avoid an underwater hazard is to maintain a safe speed. If your boat starts drifting into something that could cause significant damage, it’s much easier for you to take necessary action if you’re not traveling at full throttle.


If your boat runs aground, don’t put the boat in reverse. Instead, stop the engine and lift the outdrive to shift weight away from where it ran into trouble. Try shoving off with a paddle or boat hook if you can find one or try using any long object that’s handy as a lever to push against something solid underwater so you can float free of whatever is holding you back. Check for water ingress before trying anything else.

A boat running aground can cause big problems. If you are not prepared for this kind of situation then you might end up sinking.

On the other hand, if you know how to avoid such situations and have enough knowledge about them, you can save your boat and life.

The first thing you should do if your boat runs aground is you must put your engine into neutral and shift the transmission gear into the lowest speed position. Then stop the engine and check to see if the propeller is still moving forward or backward.

If the propeller isn’t moving, then you need to make sure that it’s not stuck in the forward position. A boat that has run aground will often hit an obstruction such as a rock.

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Mr. KRP is the founder of sailorsknowit.com, he has a great experience about life at sea. You can get in touch with him by email at info@sailorsknowit.com

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