Emergency Drills


    One of the required regulations on board a United States Coast Guard inspected vessel, such as the one you are crewing on, is to have emergency drills on a regularly scheduled basis. These drills allow a captain and crew the ability to practice for emergencies involving fire, flooding, man over board and abandon ship.  You will also have security drills. By practicing these drills, the entire crew learns how to use the equipment necessary for these emergencies and to know more about the vessel. Your responsibility is to know your task for each of these emergencies. Once you know your task and how to use the equipment, you will also have to know what everyone else is supposed to do during the same drill. This is in case someone is injured or delayed in getting to their assigned station. Emergencies don’t wait and neither can you, especially if another crew member can’t do their appointed task.


    Contingency Plans


    Because of the many different types of passengers carried and the areas that the vessel travels in, there are other types of emergencies that can occur such as: medical, fuel oil spills, underway breakdowns, passenger fights or other mishaps. These are called contingencies and are difficult to drill for. Contingency plans are sometimes called Emergency Action Plans. Contingency plans are written to guard against these other emergencies. Your responsibility will be different for each individual contingency plan. The captain will explain your job for the various contingencies that the company has prepared for. It is important for you to learn the tasks that you will be held accountable for.


    Emergency notification


    When you are the first one on scene of an emergency:

    Step 1:  Notify the captain.  Location and type of emergency must be relayed.  In case of a fire, do not enter a compartment without notification or permission. 

    Step 2:  Passenger safety is paramount.  Direct the passengers away from the emergency.  Assist the passengers in the donning of life jackets.

    Step 3:  Size up the emergency.  Do you need medical assistance?  What class of fire do you have and what type of extinguisher do you need?  What will you do to prevent spreading? Can the crew handle the problem?  Communicate this info to the captain, the two keys in any emergency are to keep calm and to keep communicating.












    As a deckhand there is a possibility that you will be called upon to respond to a situation that might develop into a fire. Therefore, it is important that you understand the basics of fire behavior and what your role as a crew member will be in fighting a fire. It is important to remember that the easiest fire to extinguish is the one that never starts. Strong emphasis should be placed on fire prevention and “good housekeeping” on your vessels. If a fire does start, you must be able to extinguish it during the early stages before it overwhelms the capabilities of the equipment and crew.




    46 CFR 185.524



    In order to fight fire, you first need to know a little bit about it.  Four things must be present at the same time in order to produce fire:

    Enough oxygen to sustain combustion,

    Enough heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature,

    Some sort of fuel or combustible material, and

    The chemical, exothermic reaction that is fire.

    Oxygen, heat, and fuel are frequently referred to as the "fire triangle." Add in the fourth element, the chemical reaction, and you actually have a fire "tetrahedron."

    The important thing to remember is: take any of these four things away, and you will not have a fire or the fire will be extinguished. Essentially, fire extinguishers put out fire by taking away one or more elements of the fire triangle/tetrahedron. Fire safety, at its most basic, is based upon the principle of keeping fuel sources and ignition sources separate.


    Fires are classified according to one or more fire classes that designate the involvement of:

        types of fuel supply (solid type fuel, liquid type fuel)

        electrical energy (presence or absence)

    There are four classes of fire: A, B, C, D:

    Class A
    in wood, paper, cloth, and similar common materials are called Class A fires. These materials usually form glowing coals, which help to sustain the fire. Such fires can be stopped most readily by cooling with water or watery solutions. Water has the advantage of usually being plentiful (especially on a boat).

    Class B
    Blazes in flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, or grease are termed Class B fires.. The material and the fire would float and spread if a stream of water were used on the flames. Such blazes are smothered; that is, oxygen from the air is cut off.

    Class C
    Fires involving an electrical hazard. Electricity itself does not burn, but provides a heat source for burning wires, insulation, etc. Once electricity has been secured (i.e. turning off breakers) the fire can be treated as a class A fire.

    Class D
    Certain combustible metals, such as magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium. These metals burn at high temperatures and give off sufficient oxygen to support combustion. They may react violently with water or other chemicals, and must be handled with care.

    On our vessels we are only capable of extinguishing the first 3 classes of fire: A, B and C. The only way a class D fire could occur onboard is if an emergency flare – which contains magnesium- were to malfunction. IF THIS OCCURS TOSS THE FLARE OVERBOARD.  An easy way to remember A, B, C fire classes are:

    A = Ash (ordinary combustibles, wood and paper produce ash)

    B = Bottle (liquids come in bottles)

    C = Current (electricity)

    Common Extinguishing Agents

    Water   Primarily a cooling agent, it absorbs heat and cools burning materials. Additionally, when water turns to steam, it expands 1700 times in volume. This cloud of steam displaces the air above a fire and smothers it. Water is effective on Class A fires, has limited effectiveness on Class B & D fires, and SHOULD NEVER BE USED ON CLASS C FIRES BECAUSE THE RISK OF ELECTROCUTION IS TOO GREAT. Also never use a straight stream of water on a contained liquid fire as the force of the water will spread the fuel.

    Carbon Dioxide   Normally a gas, CO2 becomes liquefied when stored under pressure as it is in our portable extinguishers. CO2 is 1.5 times heavier than air and extinguishes the fire mainly by smothering it. The air around the fire becomes too diluted until the oxygen content is too low to support combustion. CO2 does not conduct electricity so it can be used on A, B and C class fires.

    Multi- Purpose Chemicals   These chemicals in powder form attack the chain reaction side of the fire and also smother it by creating a thin layer of film on the surface of the burning material. They are suitable for A, B and C class fires.

    ABC Multi Purpose versus CO2 Extinguishers   At Shoreline we have two types of portable extinguishers –ABC (or Multi Purpose Chemical) and CO2. All ABC extinguishers have labels indicating the fire classes they can be used on as well as a gauge near the nozzle indicating pressure. These are our most common extinguishers. When fighting a fire with an ABC extinguisher always start from 10 feet back from the fire. ABC’s will typically last around 22 seconds. When putting the extinguishers on deck at the start of each day you should always check to see if each one has a correct reading on the gauge and inspect the nozzles for any obstructions – cobwebs, debris etc…

    C02 Extinguishers can be identified by large nozzle ends and the fact they have no gauge on them. They are found mostly in engine rooms because they are more effective in confined spaces and do not leave a residue like ABC extinguishers. CO2 have limited effectiveness on Class A fires in open deck type areas where oxygen is abundant – re-ignition of the fire may occur. If you are unsure on anything relating to the use of a particular extinguisher simply look at the label for directions.

           “ABC” TYPE            CO2 TYPE


    Upon discovery a fire, your first action must be to inform the captain so that the alarm may be sounded and assistance summoned. If the fire is relatively small you may then proceed to extinguish it, or at least prevent it from growing in size. If you must leave the area to inform someone, be sure to close doors behind you. The acronym to remember is “FIRE”.

    F – Find the fire. Fires may be indicated by the presence of smoke and/ or heat.

    I – Inform someone. Always let someone else know that there is a fire.

    R – Restrict the fire. Close the doors, portholes, ventilation and cool exposures to prevent the fire from spreading.

    E – Extinguish. Put the fire out using appropriate agents and methods. Make sure the fire is completely out and that there are no embers or smoldering materials.


    When using either type of extinguisher, the acronym to remember is PASS:

    P = Pull the pin. Twist if necessary to break the plastic seal.

    A = Aim the nozzle at the BASE of the fire.

    S = Squeeze the handles together.

    S = Sweep the stream of the extinguishing agent back and forth at the base of the flames.

    When using an extinguisher it is best practice to make a quick discharge to check and see if the extinguisher is operational before you approach the fire at the proper distance indicated. Checking the extinguisher in this manner before approaching a fire is critical to ensuring personal safety. Attacking a fire only to discover that the extinguisher is not operational creates a serious personal risk.


    Click here to watch "How to use a dry chemical fire extinguisher"


    Click here to watch "How to use a CO2 fire extinguisher"



    Every Shoreline vessel is also equipped with fire hoses. A fire station (hose, valve and spanner wrench for disconnecting the hose) will be found on each deck. On every fire hose is a nozzle that has three settings: SHUT, FOG, and FULL STREAM. We often deploy the fire hoses to scrub the decks in the morning so you will become very familiar with how to operate them. The flow of water to the hoses is controlled by the FIRE PUMP. Fire pumps are always found in the engine room and have an on/ off switch in the pilot house. Under normal operating conditions the valve to each fire hose is in the shut position. To energize a hose remember the acronym ROOT:

    R = Run out the full length of hose.

    O = Open the valve to the hose (left loose, right tight)

    O = Open bail (or handle) on the nozzle

    T = Turn on fire pump


    If you encountered an electrical fire onboard it would be important to secure the appropriate breakers. On every breaker panel on Shoreline boats you’ll find individual breakers labeled “TURN OFF IN CASE OF FIRE”. These breakers are indicated with red zip ties and usually control the electricity for hand dryers, heaters and lights. Remember- never use water on an electrical (class C) fire.


    If there was a serious fire on the boat it would most likely be in the engine room. BEFORE YOU ENTER THE ENGINE ROOM – ALWAYS FEEL THE DOOR WITH THE BACK OF YOUR HAND. IF THE DOOR FEELS TOO HOT – DO NOT ENTER! If there IS a small fire in the engine room it could be made worse by you opening the door and letting more oxygen in to fuel it. 

    In addition to portable extinguishers, every boat is equipped with a FIXED FIRE SYSTEM for the engine room space. When activated these fixed systems fill the engine room with CO2 or a similar substance to deplete it of oxygen. The fixed systems are used in last resort type scenarios because it would render all engine room machinery (mains, pumps, generators) useless. THE CAPTAIN IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GIVE THE ORDER TO “PULL THE CO2”. If you were given that order there are a few VERY IMPORTANT steps you would need to take before hand:



    Every engine room has vents which allow air to flow in and out of the engine room. Most boats also are equipped with engine room fans or blowers.

    You would need to shut off the engine room fan and close all vents. On every vessel shutting off the fan and closing the vents can be done remotely (meaning you don’t have to be in the engine room where the fire is to close them). Have a captain show you the location of VENT DAMPERS. Dispersing massive amounts of CO2 into the engine room would be useless if oxygen was still getting in and out of the space – remember the fire triangle – by pulling the CO2 we are eliminating the oxygen side of the triangle.


    Every Shoreline boat is also equipped with a means of cutting off the fuel supply to all engines. Once again these are remote pulls which do not require you to enter the engine room. Have a Captain show you where the EMERGENCY FUEL SHUT –OFFS are.


    It is imperative that all crew members have vacated the engine room. Once the pin to the fixed system is pulled an alarm in the engine room will sound indicating the imminent release of the extinguishing agent.

    4. PULL THE CO2    The fixed system is basically a giant fire extinguisher. On most vessels the tanks are located in a separate compartment, away from the engine room. There are usually two ways you can pull it: From a remote location such as the galley or on the tank(s) themselves. Have a Captain show you where the fixed CO2 Tank(s) is and also where any remote pulls are.



    Part of the overall safety plan for a vessel and the company is to prevent fires from starting. Fires can start from several different sources; some of the more common ways are discussed below.


    Spontaneous Combustion   this is a method where certain products can create their own heat. When mixed with enough oxygen in unvented areas, or exposed to additional heat, they can start to combust and begin to burn. Rags soaked in paint, cleaning oil, grease or other assorted chemicals when placed in unvented areas or near heaters, etc. can burst into flames. Be careful when storing these and the product cans that they came from. Place them only in areas designated for their storage.


    Electrical   Bad grounds on plugs, misuse of tools or kitchen equipment that leads to overheating of the electrical motors and overloading of electrical outlets can all cause electrical fires. If you feel extreme heat around or near the housing and/or covering of electrical motors or smell an electrical type burning or view smoke from anything electrical, immediately notify the pilot house. Turn the electrical item off at the breaker box. If that can’t be located, turn off the item itself. As a last resort, it might have to be unplugged, however, the plug or plug ground itself might be the problem and you might be exposing yourself to a shock if you have to unplug the item.


    Trash Can Fires   One of the most common types of fires is the trash fire. This is usually caused by dumping ashtrays with still lit cigarettes in them.


    Chemical Mixture   The most common problem of mixing unknown chemicals is not immediate fire ignition, but causing a vapor from the different chemicals that can be very harmful if breathed. Usually this is done when trying to clean an area and you mix different types of cleaners in order to really clean an item. This mixing of different chemicals can cause a reaction that could lead to skin burns, nasal passage and throat burns or worse. Rags used in cleaning should be stored properly (see spontaneous combustion).




    Fuel/ Oil Spills- Environmental Protection


    Due to the environmental impact, legislation and public opinion, a fuel or oil spill has to be avoided at all costs. If you are involved in any fueling operation, offloading or loading of oil, cooking supplies, cleaning or paint supplies, it has to be done with the utmost responsibility. If you witness any of the above mentioned items going into the water, or see sheen upon the water, you must notify the captain or management immediately.




    Communication during an emergency is vital to the success of the crew’s response to that emergency. If you encounter a fire the first thing you should do is notify the captain. The type of communication system used by the captain and crew will be explained to you in detail. Communication must be fast and accurate to the pilot house. When communicating, it is also important to report all information gathered, not leaving anything out. If relaying information for another crew member, give the exact message; do not ad lib because you could change the impact or meaning of the message. Joking around or false information cannot be tolerated. It is also important that communication is not made in front of passengers that might set off panic (see passenger management) among the passengers.  You will practice this during drills and training. If you notice something out of the ordinary or have a question don’t hesitate to ask the captain or senior deckhand. Both are eager and willing to help you learn.


    Within your first few weeks of employment as a deckhand you will be required to participate in fire drills. Procedures and equipment locations vary from boat to boat. You should know the locations of all FIRE EXTINGUISHERS, BREAKER PANELS, ENGINE ROOM FAN SHUT- OFFS, EMERGENCY FUEL SHUT –OFFS, and FIXED CO2 TANKS and PULLS of the vessels you work on. All drills are to be treated as if it were an actual emergency. If you don’t know something ask.


    Click here to watch a DVD about Marine Fire Safety




    1. What are the 3 elements of a fire?



    2. Which class of fire should you never use water on? Why?



    3. What types of fire extinguishers are located on open deck areas? Why?



    4. What types of fire extinguishers are most effective in confined spaces?



    5. What 3 steps should you take before turning on the fire pump?



    6. How do you know which breakers to turn off in the event of a fire?


    7. How far away from a fire should you be when using an ABC Extinguisher? Where can you find that information if you were unsure?


    8. What are the steps you’d take before activating the engine room fixed fire system if the captain instructed you to do so?


    9. If there was a fire in the engine room why wouldn’t you want to immediately open the door to investigate?


    10. What 2 options do you have in dealing with a trash can fire?


    11. What is the first thing to do after you find a fire?


    12. Does CO2 conduct electricity?


    13. Do you know the location and use of the fire stations, fire pump, fire extinguishers, vent dampers, fuel shut-offs, CO2 pulls and breaker panels of the boats you work on?

    Scroll down for answers



















    ANSWERS: 1. Fuel, Heat, Oxygen: 2. Class C: 3.ABC Multi-Purpose: 4. CO2 Extinguishers: 5. Run out hose, open valve, open nozzle: 6. Ones with red zip ties: 7. 10ft/look at label: 8. Shut off fuel, fan, vents, make sure no one is in ER: 9. Introduce more oxygen and make it worse: 10. Fire extinguisher or throw it overboard. 11. Inform someone. 12.No. 13. Hopefully.







    Even the best swimmers can become disoriented when unexpectedly falling into the water. Immediate action is of primary importance when a person falls overboard. Every second counts, particularly in heavy or cold weather. Lives depend on you and the rest of the crew performing these procedures competently and effectively.


    Remember, the two most important things to remember in any emergency situation are 1) Don’t panic and 2) Keep lines of communication open between the captain and the rest of the crew.




    46 CFR 185.510




    When a person falls overboard:


    1. Throw a ring buoy overboard, as close to the person as possible.


    2. Yell “MAN OVERBOARD”. Indicate which side the victim is on.


    Obviously it is critical that the captain is aware that a person has fallen off the boat. Use every means at your disposal to make sure the captain is informed. This may mean using the bar intercom or telling other crew or even passengers to relay the information. If you have someone relay info to the captain make sure you tell them to report back to you that they have done so.


    3. Post a look- out to keep the person overboard in sight.


    This is what is called a “spotter”. One deckhand will go to the upper deck

    near the pilothouse and maintain a visual on the victim. Once again it is

    critical that the spotter COMMUNICATES with the captain by asking “Do

    you see him?”, or stating “He’s 40 feet off the starboard side, amidships”

    etc… The spotter will also keep in contact with the other deckhands who

    are deploying the MOB ladder and other equipment – relaying all info back to the captain.


    4. As the vessel is maneuvered to retrieve the victim the crew will ready the MOB ladder.


    EXCEPT for the 40 ft. Water Taxis EVERY SHORELINE BOAT IS SET UP FOR STARBOARD SIDE RESCUE. Stationed near or on every MOB ladder there are crew life jackets or work vests. YOU MUST DON A WORK VEST BEFORE YOU DEPLOY THE MOB LADDER. The captain will be maneuvering the boat for a starboard side rescue while two deckhands get the ladder ready at the starboard side gate. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU DO NOT SET THE LADDER OUT UNTIL THE VESSEL HAS SLOWED. Failure to do so may result in severe injury or someone else going into the water. Remember –your own safety is of utmost importance.


    5. Deploy the ladder and retrieve the victim.


    The deckhand who climbs down the ladder must be clipped in to the

    rail of the boat. In addition to the MOB ladder every Shoreline vessel is equipped with the following life saving gear to aid you in retrieving a victim:


    Boat Hook – An extendable pole with a hook on the end which is  kept near the ladder.


    Net – Used to retrieve infants or otherwise assist you in getting things out

              of the water.


    Life Sling – A device - usually kept above the starboard side gate – that   assists you in hauling an unconscious person out of the



    Ring Buoys – A ring shaped life preserver usually with a line attached to keep a victim afloat.


    Strobes – Floating strobe lights -usually attached to a ring buoy- used to help keep track of an overboard victim at night.


    PFD’s – Personal Floatation Devices. Could be thrown to a victim to help keep them afloat.


    6. Notify the Coast Guard and other vessels in vicinity by radiotelephone if the person is not immediately located.


    The captain may be too busy to make the proper radio calls. In that case

    a deckhand would have to relay info to USCG, Police, and other boats.

    In the pilothouse of every Shoreline vessel is a lamented EMERGENCY BROADCAST PLACARD located near the marine radios. This placard gives you detailed instructions of what to say over the radio in an emergency. Though it is designed for emergencies onboard the boat, you may find it useful in a MOB situation.


    7. Once the victim is back onboard relay vitals to the captain.


    If the person needs an ambulance we would have to prepare to go back to dock immediately. After the victim is onboard follow the captain’s instructions. Also crowd control is very important- clear passengers from the immediate area. If there are doctors or nurses onboard have them assist you with any medical issues. Once again, COMMUNICATE with the captain and other crew.





    Within your first week of employment at Shoreline you should participate in a man overboard drill. The procedure and equipment locations vary from boat to boat. Make sure you are familiar with the locations of PFD’s, MOB LADDERS, LIFE SLINGS, RING BUOYS, WORK VESTS, BOAT HOOKS, and NETS of all the vessels you work on. Don’t hesitate to ask senior deckhands, captains or managers for any questions regarding MOB procedure. Also if you have worked here longer than 7 days and have not done a MOB DRILL please inform your captain.


    Click here to watch a DVD about Man Over Board 


    MOB Review questions


    1. When someone falls in the water what are the first two things you need to do?


    2. With the exception of 40 ft. water taxis what side of the boat would you typically retrieve an MOB from?


    3. What do you need to do before you deploy the MOB ladder?


    4. What is the role of a spotter during an MOB?


    5. How do you know what your role is during an MOB?


    6. Do you know the location of the MOB ladder, life sling, ring buoys, work vests, boat hooks and nets of the vessel’s you work on?



     Scroll down for answers



























    Answers: 1. Throw life ring & yell “Man overboard”; 2. Starboard; 3. Don vest, wait for boat to slow; 4. Make sure captain knows where victim is, communicate with other crew; 5. start of shift meeting or ask captain.




    Even for the most modern vessel with the best trained crew, the possibility of a disabling mishap during a voyage is present.  Your safety and the safety of your passengers depend on your ability to stay calm and follow the techniques taught during drills. In most circumstances, your vessel is your best protection.  But, once the captain decides that it is time to abandon the vessel as it is no longer a safe refuge, the order will be given to abandon ship.  Abandoning ship signifies the end of attempts to save the vessel.  This signal on the general alarm and/or ship’s whistle is seven short blasts, followed by one long blast. 

    The first order given is to prepare to abandon ship.  During this evolution, crew will be assisting passengers to don life jackets, preparing the emergency exits and most importantly, keeping the passengers calm and aware of what is occurring.  In the pilothouse, the captain will be relaying the vessel’s position and other information to the Coast Guard and gathering the emergency equipment to be taken when the vessel is abandoned.


    46 CFR 185.512, 185.520, 180.210

    Reasons to abandon ship

    There are several reasons we may need to abandon ship. Evacuation procedures are usually compounded by other emergencies:

    Someone calls in a bomb threat, or a bomb is found onboard

    A fire is raging out of control

    Your boat collides with another boat and starts taking on water

    Due to mechanical failure the vessel starts taking on water/ sinking

    Just like releasing CO2 into the engine room, the order to “ABANDON SHIP” is the last resort. THE CAPTAIN IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN GIVE THE ORDER TO ABANDON SHIP.

    As mentioned above there are many reasons we may need to get people off the vessel. The good thing about our tours is we are never more than a few miles from shore at the most. If a situation would arise and we’d need to get people off the boat, the crew would try everything in their power to get the passengers either onto our dock, onto a remote dock or onto another boat before we would put them directly into the water. Common sense tells us that if we were sinking we’d want to evacuate the lower deck first. Once everyone is on the upper deck the crew would assist the passengers into Personal Floatation Devices (PFD’S or Life Jackets) and await orders from the captain. All our boats are equipped with Type I PFD’s for passengers. Type I PFD’s are designed to keep an individual’s head afloat when immersed in water. Children’s PFD’s are for passengers under 90 lbs. That means an extremely obese 8 year old may have to wear an adult PFD. Conversely a very petite adult may have to be put in a child’s PFD. 

    Here are the five types of PFD’s:


    TYPE I: Offshore Life Jacket
    These vests are geared for rough or remote waters where rescue may take awhile. They are excellent for flotation and will turn most unconscious persons face up in the water.


    TYPE II: Near-Shore Vest
    These vests are good for calm waters and fast rescues. Type II vests may lack the capacity to turn unconscious wearers face up.


    TYPE III: Flotation Aid
    These vests or full-sleeved jackets are good for calm waters and fast rescues. They are not for rough waters since they will not turn a person face up. This type of life jacket (personal flotation device, or PFD) is generally used for water sports.


    TYPE IV: Throwable Device
    These cushions or ring buoys are designed to be thrown to someone in trouble. They are not for long hours in rough waters, non-swimmers or the unconscious.


    TYPE V: Special Use Device
    These windsurfing vests, deck suits, hybrid life jackets and others are designed for specific activities, such as kayaking or water skiing, and usually must be worn to be accessible. To be acceptable, Type V life jackets must be used in accordance with their label.

    Make sure you know the location of all PFD’s on the boat you work on as well as how to correctly put them on. If you don’t know have a captain or senior deckhand show you. Also have a Captain explain the passenger evacuation procedure unique to their boat.

    In an evacuation procedure – just like in any emergency – the two most important things to remember are 1) DON’T PANIC and 2) KEEP LINES OF COMMUNICATION OPEN AT ALL TIMES.

    Communication Systems

    Every Shoreline tour boat is equipped with various communication systems. You should be familiar with ways to reach the captain, as well as USCG and shore side authorities in the event the captain is unable to:

    VHF Radios

    In the pilothouse of every boat are two radios which the Captain uses for navigational purposes. On a VHF radio CHANNEL 16 is an international hailing and distress frequency and is monitored by Coast Guard and Police 24/7. As mentioned earlier there is an EMERGENCY BROADCAST PLACARD posted in every pilothouse detailing what you would say over the radio in the event of an emergency.

    Emergency Contact List

    This is a phone number list posted in the pilothouse and galley of all the important numbers you could need in an emergency - USCG, POLICE, NATIONAL RESPONSE CENTER, COMPANY PERSONNEL etc…

    Company Nextels

    Every boat has a Nextel used to communicate within the company and with other Shoreline boats.



    PA Systems

    The vessels that do river cruises have a microphone system for the tour guide on the upper deck. Most boats also have a captain’s mic located in the pilothouse. These public address systems can be heard on both decks of the vessel and would be used to direct passengers, summon crew etc… in an emergency.

    Ship’s Bell

    Located just outside the pilothouse of every boat, the ship’s bell could be used to summon crew or signal a Man Overboard, Fire or Abandon Ship.

    General Alarm

    Some of our vessels are equipped with general alarms found through- out the boat which the captain would sound to alert crew.

    Bar Intercom

    There is a two way intercom system between the bar and pilothouse.


    Inside the pilothouse all boats are required to have 12 flares. 6 orange smoke flares used for day time. 6 red flares used for night. A flare would be used to hail USCG or other authorities in the event all other communication systems failed. Have a Captain show you where the flare box is.


    1.     Grasp bottom of flare firmly below holding line on label (hold the white part). Point away from face and body. Aim downwind.

    2.     Remove black lid on red cap. Twist red cap, remove and save to ignite flare.

    3.    Strike button on top of flare with abrasive surface of red cap. Hold burning flare over side of boat and aim downwind. Do not wave overhead.

     Click here to watch "How to use a flare"





    Abandon Ship Review Questions

    1. What kind of circumstances would warrant abandoning the ship?

    2. Why are Type I PFDs used for passengers?

    3. What channel on the VHF radio is used for international hailing and distress?

    4. If you had to use the VHF radio in an emergency where do you find instructions on what to do?

    5. Where is the Emergency Contact List posted?

    6. In the eyes of the USCG and for PFD purposes what constitutes a child?

    7. Where can you find emergency flares? Describe a situation where you would need to use one?

    8. Do you know the location and use of adult/ child PFDs, the general alarm, emergency contact list, VHF radios, flares, company nextels and life rings of the boats you work on?


     Scroll down for answers













    ANSWERS: 1. Severe fire, flooding, bomb etc.; 2. designed to keep head above water even if unconscious, you don’t need to know how to swim to use one; 3. 16; 4. emergency broadcast placard located by the radio; 5. pilothouse; 6. 90lbs or under; 7. Pilothouse in watertight case labeled “flares”, use if no other communication is possible.



    To understand how water could enter the vessel and flood it, you must first know some basic terminology:


    The tendency of a body to float or to rise when submerged in a fluid.

    The Hull

    A hull is the body of a ship or boat. It is a central concept in floating vessels as it provides the buoyancy that keeps the vessel from sinking.


    A bilge is the bottom most part of a ship’s inner hull. The bilge is hollow to maintain the hull’s buoyancy.


    A bulkhead is an upright wall within the hull of a ship. Bulkheads separate different bilge compartments or voids.

    Collision Bulkhead

    A collision bulkhead is a watertight partition in a ship, usually near the bow, for keeping out water in the event of a collision.

    Ways in which water normally enters the boat.

    Certain systems on the boat like FLUSHING PUMPS for the sinks and toilets require water taken directly from the river or lake. The FIRE PUMPS also run on lake or river water (or raw water). One or more SEA CHESTS supply water to these various pumps and under normal operation their valves are always open. Next to each SEA CHEST there is a SEA STRAINER which is a filter that catches any debris before it can enter piping throughout the boat. Shoreline’s water taxis and lake boats also use raw water to indirectly cool the engines. 

    Ways in which water could enter the boat and flood it

    Sea strainers are opened regularly and cleaned out. If gaskets were to wear out or the strainer not closed tight enough water could enter in and flood the vessel.

    Also on every boat there is what is known as THROUGH HULL FITTINGS- which are points where something - typically a shaft for a propeller -exit the hull and enter the water. The main engines connect to shafts which connect to the propellers that propel the boat forward (or backward). A STUFFING BOX, or packing gland, is used around a shaft at the point it exits the boat’s hull underwater. It is the most common method for preventing water from entering the hull while still allowing the propeller shaft to turn.

    During routine engine checks the STUFFING BOX and SEA STRAINER should be inspected for leaks. HAVE A CAPTAIN SHOW YOU WHERE THE SEA CHESTS, SEA STRAINERS, and STUFFING BOXES are on the boats you work on.

    Bilge Alarms

    A bilge alarm or high water alarm is required to be in any compartment that contains a through hull fitting. These devices are usually simple floating levers that when tipped up by rising water sound an alarm on a panel in the pilothouse. Bilge alarms are ALWAYS found in the engine room and steering compartment but are usually in TANK ROOMS and BOW THRUSTER compartments as well.

    Bilge Pumps

    All our tour boats are equipped with bilge pumps located in the engine room. These pumps operate like fire pumps but do the exact opposite- they pump water off the boat and directly overboard. Connected to each bilge pump is a BILGE MANIFOLD – A series of suction valves that lead via pipes to all the various bilge compartments. Operating the bilge pump differs from boat to boat but the principle is the same:




    Bilge manifold of the Shoreline II.

    The Evening Star, Bright Star, Blue Dog and Voyageur are equipped with a collision bulkhead located in the bow. The compartment forward of this bulkhead – the BOW THRUSTER COMPARTMENT or FORE PEAK- has a separate suction valve apart from the one in the engine room. This is so water can be sealed off in this compartment in the event we should collide head on with another vessel, a bridge piling, a dock, etc…You would have to open this suction valve to pump water out with the bilge pump.

    Flooding Review Questions:

    1. Name a way water normally enters the boat?

    2. How do we monitor these points?

    3. What are the two compartments that will always have bilge alarms in them? Why?

    4. Do you know the location and use of the bilge pump, bilge manifold and bilge alarms of the vessels you work on?

    Scroll down for answers











    Answers: 1. sea chests; 2. ER checks, bilge alarms; 3. Lazarette & ER, through hull fittings, shafts


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