When sailing, can the passengers of the yacht safely go swimming while in the open seas? That is, when some miles away from the coast-line.

  • 6
    Make sure you always leave someone on board who is able to operate/navigate the ship. You don't want to forget lowering the ladder, or have a current carry you away from an anchored ship. May 14, 2016 at 8:24
  • Oh, it's not just the movie. In the 90s, while living in France, I distinctly remember reading the news covering a sailboat in the Mediterranean whose occupants had done exactly that - not lowered anything - and perished. Apr 15, 2020 at 4:39
  • 1
    Even if you lower something, do not forget wind drift. I remember that we were once out in the Baltic sea for a swim and the yacht (with sails down ofc) was drifting along in 1,5 knots. We put out a fender on a long line to allow swimmers to catch the boat without too much effort if needed
    – Manziel
    Apr 15, 2020 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


Yes. My wife is a geologist and has been on a couple of research cruises in the south Pacific and Indian oceans. It used to be quite common to have a "swim call" when the seas were calm. The vessel would stop, and the crew and scientific staff would go for a swim. In one case a student lost her leg to a shark during a swim call on a NOAA ship. I believe that US Naval and Coast Guard ships will also hold "swim calls", and if you have a private ship, there is nobody to stop you. You can, after all, drown as easily in 10 feet of water as you can in 1 mile of water.

  • But even if the seas appear calm, could it be the case that currents drag you away from the ship?
    – Pierre B
    May 13, 2016 at 23:09
  • 4
    Sure, nobody said it was a safe as watching TV. You can be sucked out to sea by a rip tide from an apparently calm beach. Typically during swim call they'd put a boat in the water just in case somebody got into trouble, which made it safer than some beaches with no life guard. May 13, 2016 at 23:13
  • 2
    Some people have a tradition of swimming at the equator, at least for the first time.
    – Ken Graham
    May 14, 2016 at 11:46
  • 8
    Currents carry the boat at close to the same speed as a person in the water and are not a major concern. The problem is wind, which blows the boat faster than a swimmer due larger percentage above water line (extreme example is a kayak) and happens at deceptively low wind speed. However, any skipper with people in the water should be treating the situation similar to a MOB. Only difference is it is planned.
    – user5330
    May 15, 2016 at 23:54
  • 2
    Some commercial cruises would set a net at a certain depth and put a couple boats in the water... as safe as a pool May 16, 2016 at 15:38

This isn't perfectly safe to swim in open-sea and should be organized. Some dangers - currents, stiffed legs, sea creatures, almost as on the beach and a wild beach could be really unsafe.

The main countermeasures are -

  1. Still water and weather forecast, off course.

  2. Shark or other problems proof nets in the water, also keep people inside in most cases.

  3. Crew on board to organize rescue and deal with the vessel.

  4. Boats on water, not oared or unstable themselves for get in the same trouble as rescued.

  5. Medic, always a good idea.

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