What happens if a boat gets swamped far from shore?

Boating is one of the most fun activities that you can do. As human beings, we’re naturally drawn to the blue; it makes us calmer and happier. The fact that we all love it means that it can be a chance to enjoy the company of fellow boat lovers.

Plus, you get a lot of exercising, fresh air, and sunshine, which is good for you both mentally and physically, especially at times like these when we’re all glued to our desks.

Of course, boaters take a lot of training before they start their adventures. Nonetheless, the elements are unpredictable, and emergencies could always happen, which is why it’s important to know what to do in different scenarios and be prepared.

So, if you’re interested in knowing what you should do if your boat gets swamped far from shore, continue reading.

Boating Emergencies

When you’re at the mercy of the waters, there are a lot of ways things could go wrong. Here are some of the most common scenarios:


Boat swamping refers to boats filling up with water in a way that could compromise the boat’s stability.

Fortunately, most boats nowadays don’t capsize when swamped. However, it becomes an emergency that could lead to capsizing if the hull is too damaged or the boat fills up too much. So, it’s best to avoid it altogether.

What Happens If a Boat Gets Swamped Far from Shore?

The first thing that you need to do is assess the severity of the situation and take a headcount. Then, stop the boat if it’s moving to reduce the water pressure against the boat, which will slow down the water getting into it.

Next, if you have a bilge pump, which typically exists in closed-bow boats, turn it on to drain the water faster than it comes in. Now, try to identify the cause of the leak and fix it. A hull patch kit or towel can do wonders in such situations.

The time has come to try to signal for help and look around to see if there are any other boats in the vicinity. If you’re not wearing your life jacket, you should wear it now.

Remember to stay on or near the boat because it makes you much more visible to anyone coming to the rescue.

How Does a Boat Get Swamped?

It makes perfect sense when you think about how it happens. Boats have to balance a lot just to safely float on water. So, if you overload the vessel or distribute the passengers and equipment poorly, the boat is bound to get swamped.

In addition, bad weather increases the likelihood of such an emergency. If it’s raining and the water is rough, there’s a high chance the boat will get swamped.

Plus, some places are just not that safe to boat in because of shoals, submerged rocks, or deadheads.

What Should You Do to Reduce the Risk of Capsizing or Swamping Your Boat in Rough Water?

First things first, do the regular maintenance of the boat so that you notice any problems immediately and see what you can do about them. For example, you can check for leaking fittings and fix them before your next trip.

In addition, we recommend buying fittings of durable, high-quality material so that they don’t fail you in critical moments.

Try to be smart about your movements on the boat. For instance, don’t sit in places that aren’t designed for seating or lean your shoulder beyond the gunwale.

Also, don’t stand up in a small boat. Fishermen tend to stand a lot, which is why they should get larger boats that can handle that. Plus, try to always keep three points of contact–one hand and two feet or vice versa–with the boat to ensure its stability.

It’s very important that you don’t overload the boat or exceed the capacity limits. You can ensure staying within the limit by weighing yourself, passengers, and all boating accessories and equipment beforehand.

Even if you weigh everything and it’s still not too much, you still need to ensure even distribution of said weight. Don’t just put everything on one side or the other.

Remember to always be prepared with survival gear and life jackets because you never know what will happen. Finally, if you’re not experienced enough to handle rough waters without guidance, don’t do it.


Capsizing is exactly what you don’t want to happen when you go boating. It’s when a boat is turned on its side or upside down. We have all heard about numerous tragedies where people died due to a boat capsizing, but it doesn’t have to be fatal if you know what to do.

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

What Should You Do If Your Boat Capsizes?

The first thing to do is calm down and assess the situation; panic has never helped anyone in the sea. Then, take a headcount and stick with all the passengers. Now, try to re-board the board. If you couldn’t right the boat, climb and stay on top of the capsized hull.

Do not abandon the boat unless it’s heading towards a hazard; nobody wants another titanic. Instead, hold onto the rigid parts of the boat. Most boats are designed to stay afloat anyway, which will help you get noticed by the Coast Guard or anyone in the vicinity. The sight of a capsized boat is surely attention-grabbing.

Plus, your life jacket, which you should be wearing or at least holding onto, will help you stay afloat regardless. Now, it would be a good time to signal for help and monitor the area to find nearby assistance.

What Causes a Boat to Capsize?

A lot of it comes back to the operator, really. If the operator is inattentive, they won’t notice problems that can be avoided with a proper lookout. Also, inexperienced operators that don’t understand navigation rules or safety procedures can definitely bring the boat down.

Sometimes, boat operators love to show off by driving too fast. However, excessive speed, especially when turning, can lead to collisions or capsizing. So, be careful out there.

Operating a boat under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a big no-no. It sounds obvious, yet many people still do it and face tragic consequences. According to the US Coast Guard, alcohol was the primary cause of boating accidents in 2018.

Of course, we have to mention that boating in hazardous waters or bad weather will definitely increase the chance of capsizing. Carefully research the area you want to boat in and always check the weather, even if it looks sunny and clear.

Also, proper maintenance and routine checks of the boat will prevent machinery failure in the middle of the water. Thus, you will avoid one of the most common causes of capsizing.

Final Thoughts

We hope that the article has been as helpful and informative as you expected. Boats getting swamped or capsized are pretty stressful situations. However, if you stay calm and plan ahead for such emergencies, you’ll get out of them untouched.