Running aground can happen to the most experienced of boaters, so anyone heading out on the water should be prepared (not just with boat insurance, but knowledge of what to do).
Even if you are careful, always use local charts, and do your best to stay off shoals or rocks you still might run aground. Nature can be unpredictable, navigating tricky, and you can’t always count on there being a buoy to mark hazardous spots.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s statistics, this is a big problem that costs American boaters millions in property damage every year. Not to mention that running aground can cause bodily injury as well.
Do you know what to do if you run aground? (Aside from calling your boat insurance agent.)
If you run aground in a motorized vessel, your priority is to stop the engine. If you can, you should try to transfer weight away from the point of contact.
Quickly assess the damage to your boat. If there is a hole and you’re taking on water you’ll have to try to stop the leak or bail. If damage to the hull is extensive, you should have time to wait for help or a towing company because your vessel is resting on firm ground. However, you may want to set a kedge anchor to keep your position secure.
If the damage is minimal but you’re stuck and immobile, you have two choices. You can either arrange for a tow or wait for the next high tide to see if you can get free.
As well as assessing the situation for your boat, you’ll also need to check to make sure that everyone who is on your boat is okay. Assess any injuries and administer first aid or call for first responders as required. Just remember that you shouldn’t ever call the US Coast Guard unless you are in grave and immediate danger.
As boat insurance specialists, we recommend that if you do require a tow that you use a commercial towing company. It’s tricky to tow a boat and many times we see personal injuries or damage to the boats involved because the people were towing novices. It’s worth the money to hire a professional and you may be able to obtain coverage that includes towing.
Does your current boat insurance coverage cover you for tows or replacement value in case you run aground? Contact the boat insurance professionals at Global Marine Insurance to review your policy, so you don’t face any unwelcome surprises this summer.