Archive for June 2011

We have been promoting the use of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) in the development of prop guards for a long time. It’s been on our Help Us page for several years, we mentioned CFD in our January 2009 post on a Propeller Guard With Reduced Drag, and just a few days ago we briefly discussed the use of CFD in our The Emperor Has No Boat: SUNY Propeller Guard Testing post. In addition, our efforts to encourage engineering and design students working on student projects, thesis, and dissertations to consider studying propeller guards has a student that looks like he is going to be working at least in part, on propeller guard CFD.

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) is a natural fit for propeller guard design. It allows sorting through the design variables to optimize the propeller guards to reduce drag, minimize their impact on boat handling issues, make sure cavitation issues do not cause a problem, and even test the interaction between propeller guards and humans (human factors issues of being struck by a guard, being entrapped, or being pulled into a recreational boat propeller). Read More→


The Emperor has no boat.

CED Investigative Technologies, Inc. has been testing the human factors of propeller guards at State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo at their Center for Research in Education and Special Environments (CRESE) facility. Some may recall, this is the same facility used by Mercury Marine and Outboard Marine Corporation to test a propeller guard back in late 1990. CRESE has a large circular water tank resembling a doughnut from above. Read More→

A May 13, 2011 Wall Street Journal page A3 article titled, Owning Up to Boy’s Death, describes a swimming pool accident and the subsequent prosecution of a swimming pool company executive for a young boy’s death.

Several years ago we (PGIC) saw the similarities between swimming pool grate accidents in which people were sucked into a swimming pool grate often on the bottom of a pool, and being sucked into a propeller. Since then, we followed the establishment of the Virginia Graeme Baker Act (VGB Act), written in response to the death of Virginia Baker in a 2002 swimming pool drain. The Virginia Graeme Baker Act establishes certain design practices and grate components for public pools to eliminate such accidents. The VGB Act left regulation of private pools to the states. About half of all swimming pool grate entrapment accidents occur in private pools.

Just months before the passage of the VGB Act in December 2007, in the summer of 2007 a six year old boy in Connecticut, Zachary Cohn, had his arm entrapped in the drain of a private pool. His father spent several minutes trying to free him, and the young boy drowned.

The State of Connecticut prosecuted David Lionetti, president of Shoreline Pools for manslaughter. The state claimed the pool company “failed to install a device that would have shut off the pump when an object got in the way.”

In April 2011, Mr. Loinetti pleaded guilty to lesser charges of criminally negligent homicide which is a misdemeanor. He was put on three years probation and required to perform 500 hours of community service. His company, Shoreline Pools, was ordered to pay $150,000 to a pool safety organization founded by Zachary’s parents.

Swimming pool safety advocates hope the decision leads to broader applications of pool drain safety devices. They cite the relatively low fatality count since the 1980’s and respond the number could be much higher. Many police and medical records to no list the specific cause in drownings. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Don't Wreck Your Summer

Don't Wreck Your Summer - USCG PSA

On May 11, 2011, the Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA) released a press release titled, Michigan Boating Industries Association (MBIA) Shocked by USCG Misguided and Damaging Advertising Campaign. The press release reports they will soon be contacting member of Congress to share their “outrage.” USCG is misguided, the boating has a strong safety record that continues to improve. They provide some data from the State of Michigan to support their position and compare their record to that of snowmobiles and motorcycles.

MBIA quotes the National Marine Manufacturing Association (NMMA) statement on the ads, “in these uncertain economic times it is incomprehensible that the USCG is using taxpayer dollars to push a new ad campaign whose only message is that boating is a dangerous activity.” MBIA says they will tell Congress to require USCG to design ad campaigns focused on “the importance of safety and responsible behavior …”. Read More→

1 Categories : Propeller Safety News

Instead of Trying to Stop the Disaster, Try to Make it Worse

On May 19, 2011 I was reading a May 18, 2011 Wall Street Journal Article titled, Fresh Tales of Chaos Emerge From Early Hours of the Crisis. The article details the rapidly evolving nature of the nuclear reactor problems at Fukashima Nuclear Power Plant in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami. Many events were happening of which officials were unaware, and as a result they failed to anticipate steps they might have been able to take to lessen the eventual disaster. Read More→

Back on July 9, 2006, Bethany Mercer (then Bethany Wallenburg) and Niki Bell (now age 27) were on a MasterCraft X-45 on California’s Lake Oroville. They were both ejected from the boat and hit by its propeller. Niki Bell received several skull fractures resulting brain damage, and lost her left eye. Bethany Mercer received injuries to her arm, leg and back. Both women been sitting in the front left of the 24 foot wake board boat. The boat started to take on water after it was completing a turn to pickup a fallen wake boarder with something close to 20 people onboard, and the two women were washed overboard, perhaps in part resulting from up to 12 people being in the bow. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

On May 27, 2011 Jacob Brochtrup won his propeller accident case again. This time his legal team led by Robert “Robby” Alden of Byrd Davis Furman defeated an appeal by Mercury Marine and Sea Ray (both Brunswick companies) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, Louisiana. Brochtrup first won the case back in April 2010 in the U.S. District Court, Western District, Austin Division. At that time the jury found in his favor for $3.8 million in medical expenses and damages of which Brunswick was 66 percent liable. Read More→

2 Categories : Legal Shorts
USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2010

USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2010

We noticed the U.S. Coast Guard released their annual boating accident statistics report a little over a week ago while we were still engaged in trying to move to our new website. The total fatality count for 2010 was 672 deaths (vs. 736 in 2009). USCG reported 179 propeller accidents and 27 propeller fatalities for 2010. For an historical comparison of propeller accident data, please see our Propeller Accident Statistics page.


Table 17 (Frequency of Events in Accidents & Casualties Nationwide) continued to follow the format they adopted in 2009 based on our and SPIN’s suggestions and helps prevent people from getting Event 1 data (total number of times that event was the first thing to happen in any accident) confused with the total number of Events (the total number of times that event happened in all accidents).

However, Table 16 (Accident, Vessel & Casualty Numbers by Primary Accident Type 2010) still tends to mislead people into reading Event 1 data as the total number of accidents for a specific accident type if they do not read the table very carefully.

Pages 8 and 9 discuss changes to the publication this year (specifically the merger of Tables 17 and 18). That is a little confusing because those tables actually merged in the 2009 report. All the text in the “Changes to the Publication” section of the 2010 report also appear word for word in the 2009 report.

Anyway, its great to see the total boating accident fatality count go down, although it may be a reflection of a poor economy and high fuel costs.

We noticed there was one Event 1 propeller accident involving a houseboat. We will followup on that accident and see if we spot any more houseboat propeller accidents in the full BARD (Boating Accident Report Database) for 2010 when things settle down around here a little bit.

We would like to thank USCG for all the efforts they put into this annual statistical report of boating accidents.

0 Categories : Propeller Safety News
Cigarette Warning

Cigarette Warning

We noticed several reports in the news this morning about the new graphic cigarette warnings being released today. A report in the Washington post says their are nine new images and they will be required on all cigarette packs as part of ” a new powerful warning strategy.” The photos are very graphic and portray things like people smoking through tracheotomy holes, rotted teeth, and damaged lung tissues.


The final nine images were selected after reviewing the technical literature, reviewing over 1,700 public comments, and testing them on 18,000 people. Cigarette packs must bear the warnings to be sold in the U.S., and those warnings must cover half of the front and back of each pack, beginning October 22, 2012. The warnings must also cover 20 percent of each large display advertisement.

Other images and technical details of the warning program can be viewed from Cigarette Health Warnings on FDA’s web site.

Ladder Propeller Warning Decal

Ladder Propeller Warning Decal

In comparison, the U.S. Coast Guard backed down from supporting the propeller safety public service announcement, Don’t Wreck Your Summer, due to industry claims it was too graphic and showed boating in a bad light. BIRMC (Boating Industry Risk Management Council) is still working on developing a propeller safety warning label they announced to the press in 2005, and the existing propeller safety warning labels still fail to meet ANSI Z535 standard, and in our opinion, they are lame. For example, the one at left does not even mention the word propeller.

To those not familiar with us, we are an advocate for recreational boat propeller safety and cover all aspects of recreational boat propeller accidents, propeller guards, and other propeller safety devices.

After months of work, today (20 June 2011), we launched . We updated the content previously on our Propeller Guard Information Center site, checked all the links, and converted it to a format much easier to navigate and friendlier to the search engines. Anybody attempting to visit the old pages on the Propeller Guard Information Center should be automatically redirected to the correct new page.

We welcome any comments or suggestions you may have about our new format, and please let us know if you are having trouble finding anything that was on the old website. During the process, we also changed our email address. It is available from the Contact tab in the menu.

We have been talking about changing our format for a couple years. It was just like moving all your personal possessions, very challenging, but we made it. We like our new home and we hope you do to.

0 Categories : Propeller Safety News