Turtled Boat Rescue


  • Practice and develop the rescue skill of approaching and righting a turtled sailboat using a method(s) appropriate for the type of boat.

Setting Up the Drill:

  • Equipment: a sailboat rigged with sails and a long line attached to the mast tip to capsize the boat.
  • Ensure there is no water in the boat’s flotation tanks and their drain plugs are secured.
  • With sufficient water depth (use a sounding lead and not the mast tip), remove the float from the mast tip and allow the boat to turtle.

Conducting the Drill:

  • The first objective is to get the turtled boat into the normal capsized position (lying on its side).
  • From there it may be possible for the rescue boat to get into position for a forestay/mast-tip lift, or get a second boat to assist.

Teaching Tips:

  • Different boats respond differently to attempts to right them, even boats within the same class.
  • Water in a boat’s flotation tanks will make it more difficult to rotate the boat out of the turtled position.
  • If the sailboat cannot stay in the normal capsized position to complete the rescue, a second boat will be needed to do the forestay/mast tip lift while the first boat keeps the sailboat from turtling.

Common Errors:

  • Attaching the righting line incorrectly.
  • Not being able to maintain intended positioning to the turtled boat during the rescue.


  • Safety & Rescue Boat Handling On-Water Skill Standard 3.1 and its rubrics
  • Safety, Rescue & Support Boat Handling textbook pp. 67, 68