Crew Overboard

Chris Riley by Chris Riley Updated on November 23, 2019. In nauticalknowhow

You are operating a powerboat on a fair sea when a crew member falls overboard on the port side. You should take a hard turn to the _______?

Boats react differently than cars and actually are steered from the stern and rotate around a pivot point. This pivot point is approximately one-third of the way aft from the bow when moving forward. If you find yourself in a crew overboard situation you should turn in the direction of the person falling overboard. In the case of this question, you should turn to port. This will move the stern, and subsequently, the propeller to starboard and away from the person in the water.

Thanks to Alan Richard who pointed out that using the word “passenger” could infer that it was a person who paid a consideration in return for passage. If this were the case, you would have to have a USCG license .

Thanks also to David Moore who, if I may paraphrase, said the direction you turn might depend on the relationship you have with the person overboard.

Chapter VIII – AccidentsSection 3 – Crew Overboard

Crew Overboard

Standing or riding on the gunwales or bow of a boat causes most crew overboard situations. If you must move around in a boat which is underway, stay low, hold on to both sides and have at least three points of contact with the boat at all times.

Crew Overboard Procedure

1. Whoever first sees or hears someone go overboard should shout “crew overboard (port or starboard)”. This person should become the spotter and continually point to the person in the water until the boat is safely alongside. Try not to lose sight of the crew overboard; it is extremely difficult to locate a person in the water.

2. Turn the bow of the boat quickly toward the side the person fell over and stop the boat. Turning toward the person will push the stern and propeller away.

3. Immediately throw a life saving device toward the person so they will have some assistance in keeping afloat. Your type IV throwable flotation device should always be immediately accessible and within reach of the helm.

4. Slowly turn the boat and make a gentle turn keeping the person in view.

5. Approach the person slowly into the wind or current.

6. When the person is alongside turn off the engine.

7. Adjust the weight to keep the boat trimmed and help the person aboard. Usually over the stern.


boating safety course crew overboard graphicDo not go into the water to assist the person unless absolutely necessary. If the victim is unable to board or needs further assistance and someone must go into the water, make sure they have on a PFD and that they are attached to the boat with a line.

In water survival

Should you find yourself in the water there are survival techniques you can use while waiting to be picked up. Hopefully, you have been a safe boater and you have on your PFD. If not, you will have to float or tread water until rescued.

One method of floating is the horizontal back float. This comfortable position keeps your face out of the water and allows you to conserve energy. You simply lie back motionless with your arms outstretched, arching your back slightly, allow your legs to rise straight out.

Another method of floating is the vertical back float. This position does not float your entire body on the water’s surface. Your body is still underwater except for your face and upper chest with your arms extended out to each side.

If you cannot float in this manner, you can practice survival floating. Very simply put, tilt your head back, slowly press down with your arms and legs to bring your mouth above the water, inhale, hold your breath and go limp for a few seconds. Your face will go underwater while you dangle your arms and legs. Exhale as you are tilting your head back and preparing to break the water’s surface so that a minimum amount of energy and movement is required to keep your head out of the water long enough to inhale.

Treading water requires more energy than floating but keeps your head above water. Treading water is accomplished by doing a slow series of scissor kicks with your legs while slowly waving your outstretched arms back and forth on the water’s surface.

Should you find yourself capsized or overboard in a swift river current, turn on your back and position your feet downstream. This will help cushion blows from rocks and debris.

When you find yourself in the water keep your clothes on to help prevent heat loss. Because they also trap air they can assist you in floating.




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