Boating can be a lot of fun, but oftentimes, one of the hardest parts is getting off the boat when you’re done. So how do you safely get out of a boat?
There’s nothing quite like spending a relaxing day out on the water, but sometimes the most dangerous part of the day can be the very end of the journey when you simply have to step off the boat and onto dry land again.
So how do you get off a boat? There are a few simple things that you can do to make getting off a boat easier. You’ll want to make sure your hands are free and go slow, ideally with someone else on the dock helping you get out.
Though it sounds simple, getting out of a boat is often easier said than done. There are many things that can affect how difficult it is as well like the size of the boat and the calmness of the water. Still, there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure that you exit the boat in the safest manner possible.
I’ve been spending lots of time on boats since I was a little kid, and I still remember the first time I tried to get on or off the boat myself. It’s challenging for anyone that has to do it for the first time, but as long as you are careful and follow some simple tips, you won’t have to worry about the next time you need to get out of a boat.
Why Is It So Hard To Get Out Of A Boat?
Though it seems like it would be simple and easy, getting out of a boat can be a serious endeavor, especially if the passenger in question doesn’t have the best balance or sufficient strength. But this still doesn’t explain why it's so difficult. After all, there are hardly any other vehicles out there that are quite as hard to get into and out of like a boat.
The culprit here is of course the water that the boat is in. Unlike a car, train, or plane, which you enter on solid ground, boats naturally sit on the water which is much less steady than land. As weight shifts in the boat, the displacement of the water will change under it. The boat itself will be pushed down wherever you move to, of course causing the opposite end to move up making the floor you’re standing on diagonal instead of flat.
Every time you move, the boat will move too, making it quite difficult to get back onto dry land, and in the worst case, possibly causing you to fall and injure yourself. Compensating for the constant movement of the ground you are standing on is why it can be so difficult to get out of a boat.
Are All Boats Equally Difficult To Get Out Of?
Now that you know why it is so difficult to get out of a boat, are all boats equally difficult to get out of? Does the size and shape of the boat affect how hard it will be to get out of?
The simple answer to this question is no. Boats of different shapes and sizes can be very different when it comes to how hard it is to get out of them. Though the size and weight of the boat have a much bigger effect, the shape is also important in determining how stable a boat will be as you exit.
Boats like speed boats, that have a V-shaped hulls will tend to roll to the side a lot more than many other types of boats as you get closer to the edge. Other types of boats like pontoons or catamarans will be a bit more stable as they have two points of contact with the water at the outside edges, instead of just one in the middle.
Most importantly, however, the size and weight of a boat have a huge effect on how difficult it will be to get out of the boat. As mentioned before, as weight shifts on the boat, the displacement of water under it will shift as well, causing the boat itself to change positions. Knowing this the main thing we have to worry about is the shift in weight.
This weight distribution affects smaller boats a lot more because they simply weigh less and your weight on top of it is a much larger percentage of the whole displacement of the boat. Giant ships that weigh hundreds of thousands of tons, on the other hand, are much less prone to this as the tiny weight of your body moving about the ship has almost no effect on the total displacement of the ship. That's why you never really see anyone struggling to get off of a cruise ship. In general, the bigger the boat, the easier it will be to get off of.
What About The Water Conditions?
Though it is obvious, it is still worth mentioning that the condition of the water can also affect how hard it is to get out of a boat. Rough and choppy waters will make it a lot more difficult to get out as the boat will not only shift as your weight does, but also as the water moves under it. Luckily, most marinas and harbors are quite sheltered so that the worst water conditions can be avoided. Still, it will always be much easier to get out of a boat in calm water than it would be in rough water.
How Do You Get Out Of Boat?
Now that you know why it’s so difficult to get out of a boat and some of the different things that affect how difficult it will be, how do you go about getting out of a boat safely and efficiently?
The first thing you’ll want to do is put down anything you have in your hands. You definitely want to make sure that your hands are free as you get out of the boat so that you can hold onto something to keep your balance and possibly catch yourself if you fall.
Once your hands are free and you are ready to exit the boat, make sure that you move slowly towards the side of the boat closest to the dock. You want to keep your balance as best you can, so moving slowly will prevent you from needing to quickly compensate for a big shift in the boat’s position.
As you get to the edge of the boat reach out and grab something sturdy. You’ll likely be able to grab onto a part of the dock to keep balance, but having someone else help you out as well is even better. Make sure that you grab the forearm of the person helping you out and not just the hand as this allows a much safer and stable grip. Make sure your grip is solid and slowly and carefully step out.
Naturally, getting used to the water and trying out your sea legs more and more will help you feel more comfortable with the way the boat and water move under you. As you spend more time and get more practice, you’ll be able to better predict how your movements affect the boat’s, making it much easier to disembark.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson