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Boat Ejections- How to Avoid Getting 'Hooked' or 'Flipped' Out of Your Boat

Is there actually a risk of getting tossed out of your boat while cruising? Departing your boat suddenly and unexpectedly is a more common occurrence than most boaters realize. I know the procedure from first-hand experience and I can assure you -- it is not fun.

The common denominator in all boater extractions is the surprise factor. You are riding along in a boat one second and the next, you are out of the boat and skipping along on the top of the water. Any physical injury that is inflicted in the process of leaving the boat adds to your difficulty in the water.

The two most common causes of a boater ejection are a boat 'hook' and 'vertical ejection'.

A hook can occur during a turn. As a boat carves through a turn there is also a limited amount of slip. If the keel or strakes on your boat grab or catch on the water passing under it, a sharp decrease in the turning radius of your boat can occur. The sudden centrifugal force on your body, will apply violent horizontal pressure and if you are not holding on tightly it will eject you sideways and over the side of the boat.

You don't have to own a fast boat to have an unscheduled date with the water. Let's say you are driving along at between 35 and 40 mph and you make a sharper turn than normal. Your boat may 'hook' the water, rather than slide around the turn, creating a sharper turn. But your body will want to continue in a straight line. In such a hook, a 150 lb person that has been moving in one direction through a turn will have to overcome around a 100 pound directional momentum change in order to stay with the boat. Even if you are able to react instantaneously, you may not have the strength to overcome such a force.

At speeds over 60 mph, the likelihood of ejection increases exponentially. That's why you can find so many YouTube videos of boaters, instantly flying sideways out of their performance boat.

The second common cause of passenger ejection is "wave lift". Most boaters have experienced this to some degree. It happens when your boat climbs a large wake or swell and you get lifted upwards with the boat motion.

Since the boat will come back down more quickly than you will, there can be time for the boat to travel out from under you while you are still suspended in the air. Your body motion is like a pancake that is being flipped. The higher up you bounce, the greater the chance that the boat will drive out from under you, leaving you to land in the water aft of the boat.

Ejection accidents happen more frequently with passengers than drivers. This is because drivers can see the problem coming and they have a steering wheel to hold onto (If you are driving in rough water, be sure to check periodically that you still have all your passengers). Of course more people 'fall' out of a boat than get 'ejected'. Fishermen are a good example of this, but of the two, ejection is more traumatic and less understood.

Water does not compress, and for this reason it is very hard when you crash into it without giving it the time it needs to open up. When hitting water at higher speeds, your limbs will not quickly penetrate the surface and when they do the hard jerk can break bones. Neck injuries are even worse. The best way to minimize your risk, beside having a skilled and experienced driver, is to wear a life jacket. A life jacked is your first line of defense against unexpected boat ejection. Grab handles are a secondary defense and they are there to be grabbed. Of course, drivers should gain a feel for how tightly their boat likes to turn and only perform sharp turns in an emergency. Stay happy and stay in your boat. #tips #quicktips

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