Abandoning ship

This page has important information about maximising your chances of survival and rescue if you have to abandon your vessel.

If your vessel capsizes and you are unable to right the vessel, abandon ship only as a last resort. Stay close to the vessel to improve your chances of being sighted by rescuers.

  • Do not remove your lifejacket, and if you are in the water, stay together in a HUDDLE or HELP position
  • Do not try to swim ashore unless it is very close and a suitable landing place exists. Distances can be deceptive
  • Try to get the your distress signals out of the capsized vessel and raise the alarm
  • Make yourself as visible as you can to both ships and aircraft
  • Put on more clothes if you are able to. They will help to keep you warm and may delay the onset of hypothermia
  • If abandoning your vessel, take the distress signals with you
  • Activate your distress beacon and leave it on until emergency services tell you to turn it off.

Remember that cold water affects your ability to survive if capsized. Victorian winter waters can be below 10 °C. If you do fall out, if safe to do so, hold onto your vessel for support until your breathing settles down.

The cold water immersion page on this website has useful information on ways to minimise the risk of cold water shock and hypothermia.

Three men in water cling to capsized boat

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