The Emergency Procedures Troubleshooting Techniques
The Emergency Procedures Troubleshooting Techniques

Be prepared for any emergency while sailing with your family by learning essential procedures and techniques to ensure safety and peace of mind on the open sea.

The Emergency Procedures Troubleshooting Techniques

Sailing is an incredible way to explore the world with your family, but it’s essential to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise while out on the open sea. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover various emergency procedures and troubleshooting techniques to help you navigate through common issues and ensure the safety of your loved ones.

Table of Contents

  1. Man Overboard
  2. Taking on Water
  3. Fire Onboard
  4. Dismasting
  5. Rudder Failure
  6. Engine Failure
  7. Medical Emergencies
  8. Abandoning Ship
  9. Conclusion

Man Overboard

One of the most critical emergencies to prepare for is a man overboard situation. Time is of the essence, and quick action can make all the difference in ensuring the safety of the person in the water.

Immediate Actions

  1. Shout “Man Overboard!” - Alert the crew immediately to the situation.
  2. Assign a spotter - Designate someone to keep their eyes on the person in the water at all times.
  3. Throw flotation devices - Toss life rings, life jackets, or other buoyant objects to the person in the water.
  4. Start the engine - If sailing, lower the sails and start the engine to maneuver more quickly.
  5. Maneuver the boat - Turn the boat around and approach the person in the water from downwind or down current.

Recovery Techniques

  1. Quick-stop method - This technique involves turning the boat quickly into the wind, stopping its forward motion, and then circling back to the person in the water.
  2. Figure-eight method - This method involves turning the boat in a figure-eight pattern to return to the person in the water.
  3. Lifesling - If you have a lifesling onboard, deploy it and circle the person in the water, allowing them to grab onto the sling and be pulled back to the boat.

Taking on Water

Water ingress can be a severe issue, and it’s essential to identify the source and address it as quickly as possible.

Troubleshooting Steps

  1. Identify the source - Check for leaks in the hull, through-hull fittings, hoses, and any other potential sources of water ingress.
  2. Stop the leak - If possible, plug the leak using wooden plugs, rags, or other available materials.
  3. Pump out the water - Use manual or electric bilge pumps to remove water from the boat.
  4. Monitor the situation - Keep an eye on the leak and the water level in the bilge to ensure the situation is under control.

Fire Onboard

A fire onboard can be a terrifying experience, but quick action and proper procedures can help minimize damage and ensure the safety of the crew.

Firefighting Steps

  1. Raise the alarm - Alert the crew to the fire and its location.
  2. Shut off fuel and power - Turn off the engine, fuel supply, and electrical systems to minimize the risk of explosion.
  3. Use fire extinguishers - Use the appropriate type of fire extinguisher for the fire (e.g., water for a wood fire, CO2 for an electrical fire).
  4. Evacuate the area - If the fire cannot be controlled, evacuate the crew to a safe area on the boat or prepare to abandon ship.


A dismasting can be a dangerous situation, as the mast and rigging can cause damage to the boat or injure the crew.

Dealing with a Dismasting

  1. Cut away the rigging - Use bolt cutters or a hacksaw to cut away the rigging and prevent further damage to the boat.
  2. Secure the mast - If possible, secure the mast to the boat to prevent it from drifting away and becoming a hazard.
  3. Assess the damage - Check for any damage to the hull, deck, or other parts of the boat caused by the dismasting.
  4. Make a jury rig - If necessary, create a temporary mast and sail to continue sailing or motor to the nearest port for repairs.

Rudder Failure

Losing the ability to steer your boat can be a challenging situation, but there are ways to regain control and continue sailing.

Troubleshooting Rudder Failure

  1. Inspect the rudder - Check for any visible damage or obstructions that may be causing the issue.
  2. Check the steering system - Inspect the cables, chains, or hydraulic systems that control the rudder for any damage or failure.
  3. Use an emergency tiller - If your boat is equipped with an emergency tiller, use it to regain control of the rudder.
  4. Improvise a rudder - If all else fails, create a makeshift rudder using a drogue, oar, or other available materials.

Engine Failure

Engine failure can be a frustrating experience, but with some troubleshooting, you may be able to get your engine running again.

Troubleshooting Engine Failure

  1. Check the fuel supply - Ensure there is enough fuel in the tank and that the fuel lines are not blocked or damaged.
  2. Inspect the air intake - Check for any obstructions or damage to the air intake system.
  3. Examine the cooling system - Look for any leaks or damage to the cooling system that may be causing the engine to overheat.
  4. Inspect the electrical system - Check the battery, wiring, and other electrical components for any issues.
  5. Consult the manual - Refer to your engine’s manual for specific troubleshooting steps and procedures.

Medical Emergencies

Being prepared for medical emergencies is crucial when sailing, as professional help may be hours or even days away.

First Aid Tips

  1. Carry a well-stocked first aid kit - Ensure your kit includes bandages, gauze, pain relievers, seasickness medication, and any prescription medications your crew may need.
  2. Learn basic first aid - Take a first aid course to learn how to treat common injuries and illnesses that may occur while sailing.
  3. Know your crew’s medical history - Be aware of any allergies, medical conditions, or medications your crew members may have.
  4. Have a plan for medical emergencies - Know the location of the nearest medical facilities and have a plan for contacting them in case of an emergency.

Abandoning Ship

In extreme situations, it may be necessary to abandon your boat and seek safety in a life raft or other flotation device.

Abandon Ship Procedures

  1. Gather essential items - Collect important documents, personal items, and any necessary survival equipment.
  2. Don a life jacket - Ensure all crew members are wearing life jackets before abandoning ship.
  3. Deploy the life raft - Inflate the life raft and secure it to the boat using a painter line.
  4. Board the life raft - Help crew members board the life raft, starting with the most vulnerable or injured.
  5. Cut the painter line - Once all crew members are safely aboard the life raft, cut the painter line and drift away from the sinking boat.
  6. Activate emergency beacons - Use an EPIRB or personal locator beacon to alert rescue authorities to your location.


Sailing is an incredible way to explore the world with your family, but it’s essential to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. By familiarizing yourself with these emergency procedures and troubleshooting techniques, you can ensure the safety of your loved ones and continue to enjoy the freedom and fulfillment that comes from choosing an unconventional path.