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Boat ramp with weather forecast

I couldn’t co-ordinate my muscles, and it was the crew members who had to haul me back onboard again.
- David

Practise getting back on

Getting back on board your boat or kayak once you’ve ended up in cool Victorian waters, may be harder than you expect. It’s important to be realistic about your fitness and your capabilities, especially when heading out on your own.

Boaters and paddlers are both at risk of ending up in the water unexpectedly. Being able to get back on board will improve your chance of survival.

Check your ability to get yourself back on board in a safe environment - such as with a friend to help if you need it, or stay close to shore in sight of others – before practising in realistic conditions.

Improve your chances of self-rescue by investing in the correct safety equipment and proper training and instruction. If you are boating or paddling with others, run through your man overboard drill before each trip.

Use a kill switch on your boat so that if you do fall overboard, your engine will cut out.

Print off a pocket-sized guide for paddlers: Paddle Safe, Paddle Smart PDF, 509.6 KB

You can find resources for all types of aquatic activities on the Play it Safe by the Water website

Here's why

  • If you end up in the water unexpectedly, your best chance of survival is to get out of the water as quickly as possible.
  • Factors such as cold shock and conditions on the day could make it more difficult than you think.
  • 1-10-1 rule: Victoria's coastal waters range from about 9.5°C in midwinter to about 22°C in midsummer. If you fall into cold Victorian waters you will generally have:
    • 1 minute to get your breathing under control and keep your head out of the water
    • 10 to 20 minutes of useful movement in which to get out of the water to prepare for rescue
    • 1 to 3 hours before you become unconscious due to hypothermia.

Here's how

Spend time considering how practising self-rescue could save your life.


  • Boaters should practise getting back on board at least once a year, prior to the start of the boating season.
  • It is important to practise in realistic conditions – don't assume if you can get back on during a calm day, that you will also be able to do so in rougher conditions.
  • Your boat should be fitted with an appropriate ladder that can extend into the water. See if you can use it to haul yourself aboard when your clothes are soaked through.
  • Watch our video Could you get back on your boat? (YouTube)


  • Paddlers should regularly practise getting back on, in realistic conditions.
  • For decked kayaks, the Eskimo roll is the best and fastest self rescue.
  • Learn how to use a paddle float and stirrup.
  • Watch our video How can kayakers get prepared? (YouTube)