What to Do if You Run Out of Gas

It’s every boater’s worst nightmare – being stranded in the middle of a river, lake, or the ocean. Many things can strand you in the middle of nowhere – engine problems, bad weather, etc. But one of the most common things is running out of gas. So simple, yet so common. Before you leave dock, always make sure you have enough fuel for your journey, and make sure you have even more than enough. A little extra gas never hurt anyone!

Even the best of boaters may find themselves in this situation though, so here are a few things to do should you find yourself stranded.

  1. First of all, don’t panic! Panicking in any emergency situation on a boat is a no-no – especially if there are others on board with you. Take a breather and clear your mind so that you can make rational decisions.
  2. If you have a VHF radio or phone, and it is working, you should make that your first choice for trying to call for help. You can read our blog full of information on how to use a VHF radio and what stations to call here
  3. Set your anchor so that you don’t float any further than you want to. This will also assure that you don’t drift into rocks, shallow water, etc.
  4. Observe where you are. How long have you been in your boat — are you close to shore? Could you paddle there (if you’re in a smaller boat)? Are there any rocks or other dangerous objects around that could puncture your boat? Are there any landmarks that you can give over the radio so that other boats in the area know your location quicker and easier?
  5. If it’s daylight, make sure you put on sunscreen and stay hydrated. There’s nothing worse than getting burnt to a crisp, or worse, passing out from heat exhaustion or dehydration. Put cool rags on your neck or face to cool your down if you are in an extreme heat situation.
  6. Put your life jacket on. You never know what else could go wrong. And you should already have it on anyway!

Adding to these tips and to help you plan for a boating trip, always make sure you give a friend or family member a copy of your float plan. Your float plan should include your course, how many people are aboard, your vessel description, and places that you may stop. You should also let them know a time that you’ll be back from your journey, and that if you aren’t back by a certain time, they should call for help. If you are delayed, make sure you contact them and make them aware. Have nautical charts of the area that you are boating in (stop by – we’ll help make sure you have the right one), a global positioning device (GPS) and a reliable way to communicate on board (VHF Radio, Cell Phone & Charger). These are all things you can do in advance that could potentially save your life. Happy Boating!