Emergency: Hull Leaks or Flooding

While operating a pleasure craft, you may strike a submerged object (such as a rock or a dead head) hard enough to cause the hull of your craft to leak.

The following set of actions should be taken in response to a hull leak or flooding (i.e. when water is seen to be rising in your pleasure craft or accumulating at the bottom of the craft):

  • If the boat is moving, bring it to a complete stop – this will reduce water pressure against the hull and, thus, the amount of water entering the hull;
  • Locate the source of the hull leak or flooding;
  • Stop the leakage or the source of flooding if possible – some items that can be used to stop or to slow a leak include tapered soft wooden plugs, rags, foam sponges, towels, or some other soft material;
  • Remove accumulations of water – water can be removed from the hold or other compartments of the pleasure craft by using either hand-held bailers, manual pumps, or bilge pumping systems as appropriate to the circumstances and the craft;
  • Use or exhibit signals to indicate distress and need of assistance if necessary; and
  • Ensure everyone is wearing a properly fitted lifejacket or PFD.

Note: The tools and materials necessary to stop hull leaks should be kept on board. Also ensure that all required safety equipment is easily accessible.

REMEMBER: If your boat springs a leak, you should: 1) locate the leak, 2) bail or pump, and 3) indicate distress.