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Virginia Watercraft Owner's Guide

Capsizings and Falls Overboard

Capsizings and falls overboard are the leading cause of fatal boating incidents. To help lessen the chance of capsizing or falling overboard, follow these basic safety tips:

  • Always wear your life jacket.
  • Stay low in the boat and maintain 3 points of contact. Keep 2 feet and 1 hand, or 2 hands and 1 foot in contact with the boat at all times. If seated, you have one point of contact on the seat, and still need to maintain 2 others - such as 1 foot, 1 hand, 2 feet, etc.
  • When loading supplies into a boat, have one person get into the boat and then hand that person the supplies.
  • If retrieving an item from the water, maneuver the boat close to the object and use a boathook or paddle. If you do need to reach outside the hull of the boat, keep 3-points of contact.
  • Keep an even, balanced load.
  • Do not attach the anchor line to the stern of the boat.
  • When pulling up the anchor, stay low in the boat and well balanced.
  • If in rough waters, head the bow of the boat anywhere from directly into the seas up to a 45-degree angle depending on sea state and vessel construction.
  • Follow the information stated on the "Capacity Plate." Never exceed the allowable weight, horsepower rating, or maximum number of people.