How to Turn Your Boat Over in Four Easy Steps: A Beginner’s Guide

My first boat two

For today’s column, I’m addressing some of the most frequent comments I get on Outdoors Down South. I’ll skip numbers one and two: “Dad, you’re not funny and you’re embarrassing our family,” followed by, “I’m Lee Kissell’s attorney and hereby demand you stop using his name in your stories.”

I won’t discuss those because they are obviously spam — and also because I’m taking my lawyer’s advice.

The third most frequent comment, however, deserves my attention for several reasons, not the least of which is that I just made it up for the purposes of this post: “Sure, it’s easy for you to write about epic screw-ups because you have so much experience. But what about the rest of us who are just getting started? How about sharing some of your wisdom with us.”

Because of that impassioned plea from myself (and not at all because how-to guides get more views than other posts), I’m pleased to unveil this instructional blog entry about turning over your boat.

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: Anyone can turn over a canoe or kayak.

This is obviously the work of amateurs.

These instructions are designed for larger, more expensive boats. They are also intended for the boater who is serious about creating emotional and/or financial damage while endangering himself and others. I should also warn you that modern boats are incredibly hard to flip over, so it’s not a simple task – unless you follow these basic steps:

Step One: Ignore the weather forecasts. If you’re willing to let some team of highly trained meteorologists dictate when to take your boat out, then I’m afraid you don’t have what it takes to sink a boat. Stop looking at the marine forecasts at least one full week before your trip. Also don’t pay any attention to dark clouds, high winds, driving rain or frequent lightning, even if they are happening simultaneously and as you are stepping into the boat.

Step Two: Overload your boat. You know that data plate that says what your boat’s capacity is? Ha! Neither do I! Manufacturers put that there just to avoid lawsuits. Here’s how you tell how many people your boat can hold: You put people in there until no more will fit. Then add one more, just to be sure. As an added bit of insurance, see to it that you and your passengers are at least 20 pounds overweight.

Step Three: Don’t ever check or replace your bilge pump. This is a small, cheap piece of electrical equipment that stays submerged in water and fails when it comes in contact with necessity. You know who worries about bilge pumps? Dry people, that’s who. Hey, you’re not an electrician so just leave it alone. Trust me, it will be just fine.

Do you really want to drop $12 on a safety item?

Step Four: Ignore issues with your motor. Let’s say, hypothetically, you’re pulling out from a dock at 715 Panferio Drive on Pensacola Beach. Let’s say you have a motor that dies when you’re only a hundred yards or so from the dock. Then, let’s say it happens a couple more times as you get farther away. A novice might just turn around and head back. But that novice would also be turning back from the chance to hold the side of a capsized16-foot Wellcraft with a brother-in-law and two buddies in the middle of Santa Rosa Sound in July of 2002.


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For those who are wondering, the fourth most frequent comment is a spam message about losing 30 pounds through some new-age technique called “exercise and a healthy diet.” What’s unusual about this particular spam is that it seems to be coming from my wife’s email address.

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