Beyond Cold Water Bootcamp


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The shallow draft of Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBS) makes them the choice of many rescue organizations. They are able to maneuver in very shallow water and their medium freeboard and rounded gunwales make it easier for rescue personnel to lean over to reach victims in the water.

Those rounded gunwales also make “parbuckling” an efficient way to retrieve a victim into the boat while keeping them horizontal. Parbuckling can be done with a net, straps, or lines.

Here are the basic steps for this technique:

  • Arrange it so that the victim is lying horizontally alongside the boat,  with care to keep the face out of the water.

  • Position one rescuer at the victim’s legs and another at the victim’s chest or back.

  • With the inboard ends of the straps secured to the inside of the boat, wrap the outboard ends under the victim; one under the legs, one under the upper torso.

  • In a coordinated lift, pull on the straps rolling the victim up and onto the inflated tube.

  • Gently secure the victim on his back while on the gunwales and then lower carefully onto the deck.

  • Once aboard, assess the victim’s condition, and if possible package with a vapour barrier against the wet clothing and an outer wrap of insulation before securing for transport to shore.



{rokbox size=|700 410| thumb=|images/stories/video_icon.png|}videos/medium_freeboard.html{/rokbox} Click the icon to see a video demonstration of this procedure.