What to do if an outboard motor sinks?

Boating is a fun and thrilling recreational activity, but it comes with its fair share of challenges and risks. One of the most frightening scenarios a boater can encounter is having their outboard motor sink while in the water. It’s a situation that can cause panic and confusion if you’re not properly prepared. However, knowing what to do in such an instance can save the day and keep you safe.

Here are some tips to help you cope if you find yourself in such a predicament:

1. Keep calm and assess the situation

The first thing you need to do if your outboard motor sinks is to stay calm, assess the situation, and ensure that everyone on board is safe. The sinking of an outboard motor can be caused by various reasons such as hitting a submerged object, severe damage to the lower unit, or flooding.

2. Get out of harm’s way

If you’re in shallow waters, turn off the engine and try to paddle to shore or a safe location. If the water is too deep, use your safety equipment, such as life jackets and flotation devices, to stay afloat while waiting for rescuers to arrive. Make sure to turn off the electrical components of the boat to avoid any dangers.

3. Call for help

Once you’re safely out of harm’s way, make a distress call to the Coast Guard or other emergency services. You can use your marine radio, cell phone, or any other communication device available to you to call for help. Your exact location and the extent of damage to the motor will play a huge role in how fast help can reach you.

4. Attempt recovery if safe

If the water is shallow and safe to work in, you can attempt to recover the outboard motor. Use a tow rope or line to attach the motor to the boat and slowly attempt to pull it up. Make sure to have someone help you pull the motor, and be very careful not to damage the boat further. If the motor is located in very deep water, leave the recovery to the professionals.

5. Prevent future occurrences

Lastly, determine the root cause of the problem and implement measures to avoid a recurrence. For example, if the sinking was caused by excessive flooding, make sure to install or upgrade bilge pumps to prevent water accumulation. If it was caused by hitting a submerged object, avoid such areas and maintain proper navigation practices.

Final thoughts

While sinking an outboard motor is a scary experience, handling it calmly and with a rational mindset can help ensure your safe return. Always prioritize your safety, call for help, and take the necessary precautions to avoid such occurrences in the future. With the right approach, even the most daunting of boating challenges can be conquered.

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