Archive for July 2012

Live Like Kali stamp

Live Like Kali

Kali Gorzell

Kali Gorzell

Live Like Kali <3

Sixteen year old Kali Gorzell of greater San Antonio Texas was boating near Aransas Pass about 10:30am Friday July 20, 2012. The teenage girl was onboard a boat as a friend of two sisters and their father.

They were boating on Redfish Bay, near Dagger Island. The boat turned, she fell over the front, the boat passed over her, and Kali was struck by the propeller.

The same boat brought her to Hampton’s Landing off East Ransom Road. Witnesses said she was bleeding badly from a deep gash beginning at her neck and running up her head.

She was taken to Care Regional Center in Aransas Pass, and pronounced dead from lacerations to her face and the back of her head.

Kali Gorzell Accident Boat

Kali Gorzell propeller accident boat. Still image from KRISTV news video.

The boat involved looks like a white center console powered by a Suzuki outboard in this still image captured from a KRISTV news report.

Kali Gorzell was a sophomore at Smithson Valley High School in Comal ISD. Her classmates and friends describe her as full of zest for life and recall how she was always a positive influence on those around her. Students there are now using the phrase, “Live Like Kali”, to encourage others to life life to the fullest as she did. Kali is described as a popular girl and a member of the volleyball team. Read More→

Charlie Hutton on Boat

Charlie Hutton, age 14 of Croydon in Surrey, was boating with Simon Hutton (his father) and two of his teenage friends on Friday July 20, 2012. Their inflatable boat was between Mudeford in Dorset and the Needles off the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom (UK). Simon Hutton was operating the boat when his son, Charlie Hutton, and another 14 year old boy fell into the water about 4:50pm and both were struck by the boat propeller. Simon Hutton and the third 14 year old boy did not fall into the water.

Charlie Hutton was more seriously injured than the other boy. A Solent Coast Guard Helicopter, already airborne performing an exercise, was routed to the accident. Charlie Hutton was life flighted to Southampton General Hospital on the mainland. A Yarmouth RNLI lifeboat took the other boy to meet an ambulance where he taken to St. Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight.

Charlie Hutton died Saturday July 21st from his injuries. Read More→

A common defense used by the boating industry in propeller injury cases and in propeller guard discussions is their claim that no boat builder ever sold boats with guards on them, offered propeller guards as an option, or sold propeller guards OR at least not guards that were intended to protect people.

We just encountered this claim again in a July 2012 BoatUS Seaworthy magazine article titled, The Coast Guard’s Search for a Protocol to Test Prop Guards. In the article, Bob MacNeill, himself a propeller strike victim and past President of Chris-Craft and Carver Yachts states:

“While the idea of reducing propeller accidents is certainly appealing, none of the boat manufacturers, including Chris-Craft and Carver, has ever offered the devices. Nor has West Marine.”

That claim is not true. We identify a few of the many boat manufacturers that have offered or are now offering propeller guards in three recent posts.

Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Numerous boat builders have offered or do offer propeller guards as an option, have sold propeller guards, or have provided their boats for use in major events (such as the Olympics) at which they knew guards would be required on their boats. This post is part one of a two part post identifying some of these boat builders.

We filed these two posts in our legal section because the boating industry often asks plaintiffs and plaintiff’s experts in legal cases if they know of any boat builder or boat manufacturer that ever offered / used propeller guards. If any are mentioned, the industry tries to explain during deposition or trial why those guards have no application to this situation. As the list of builders using guards has grown, their position has become increasingly more difficult to defend. Several of the boat builders listed here have not been previously identified in propeller trials as using prop guards.


Beneteau is a well known European manufacturer of boats and yachts. Some of their models have been sold with optional propeller guards for several years. For example, the Antares 8 (8 meters or about 26 feet), is listed with an optional propeller guard in this 2010 brochure.

Beneteau Antares 8 meter boat

Beneteau Antares 8 meter boat

Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

This is a continuation of our list of boat builders that have offered propeller guards as an option or sold propeller guards, or provided their boats for use at a major event at which they knew guards would be required (such as the Olympics).

Return to Part 1 (A-M).


Narwhal builds outboard powered RIBS and sells them with propeller guards as show in the Narwhal SV 420 rescue boat shown below. This image comes from Narwhal’s listing on

Narwhal SV 420 rescue boat

Narwhal SV 420 rescue boat


Zhenjiang Norman Import & Export Co., Ltd. of Mainland China builds Norman fast rescue boats powered by Mercury Marine outboards with propeller guards. The example shown below is their 4.25 meter model as offered for sale on Alibaba on July 19, 2012.

Norman Fast Rescue Boat

Norman Fast Rescue Boat

Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Several regulations, standards, statements, and developments have resulted in more boat builders offering propeller guards. Among these are:

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 46: Shipping Part 160 – Lifesaving Equipment Subpart 160.156 – Rescue Boats and Fast Rescue Boats (SOLAS) requires each propeller of a rescue boat be fitted with a propeller guard to receive Coast Guard approval of a rescue boat, including fast rescue boat, complying with SOLAS and the IMO LSA Code, for use on waters other than protected waters as defined in 46 CFR 175.400.

U.S. Coast Guard Requires Life Boats to Have Propeller Guards

The United States Coast Guard has a checklist for reviewing lifeboats that requires them to have propeller guards.

USCG Lifeboat Requirements

USCG Lifeboat Requirements for Propeller Guards

Tenders for Commercial Large Yachts Now Also Serve as SOLAS Rescue Boats So They are Required to Have Propeller Guards

While the standards go by different names around the world (Large Yacht Code, Mega Yacht Code, Large Commercial Yacht Code, etc), large commercial yachts used for Pleasure or Sport 20 meters or longer (about 78 feet or longer) are required to carry a SOLAS rescue boat. Since these large charter craft already carry one or more tenders, now one of those tenders serves double duty as the SOLAS rescue boat. As mentioned earlier, SOLAS rescue boats must have propeller guards. Read More→

0 Categories : Regulations

Donald G. Balius, Sr.

Donald G. Balius, Sr.

We recently noticed Donald Balius passed away back on April 25, 2009 at age 81. He owned and operated Donald Balius Iron Works in Biloxi Mississippi at the same address for over 50 years until it was destroyed by hurricane Katrina in 2005. A nice obituary is in the Sun Herald (Biloxi-Gulfport MS). We borrowed his photo from there.

I never had the opportunity to meet or visit with Mr. Balius, but I have admired his work for several years. As a propeller guard pioneer, he was predominantly known for the Balius guard.

A great story in the April 17, 1988 Beaver County Times from Biloxi Mississippi announced his invention, and his enthusiasm for the Propguard, which he knew was going to be a very successful product, not only for him, but for his sons (Daryl and Dan). He is already talking about his early retirement (he was 60) soon to be made possible by this “million dollar product.” He foresaw his sons taking on the business in the next eight or nine months. “News of the soon-to-be manufactured device has spread throughout the financial community. Foreign nations and major retail chain stores have expressed interest in invention.” A Calgary, Alberta based brokerage is preparing to issue 9 million shares in Propguard Inc. in two months. His propeller guard passed tests conducted by the U.S. Navy Research and Development Center. His invention grew from a problem 29 years ago when he was shrimping on a friend’s boat and the trawl became caught in the propeller. Over the years he continued to refine his idea. Balius notes that besides protecting humans, protecting drives and propellers, and keeping nets out of propellers, the Propguard also protects Manatees. Read More→

0 Categories : Propeller Safety News

Yanmar D27 & D36 Diesel Outboard Service Manual cover

Yanmar D27 & D36 Diesel Outboard Service Manual cover

Back in 2000, Yanmar was offering a special lower leg on Model D27A and D36A outboards (27 and 36 horsepower) that came with bolt holes for installing a propeller guard.

The boating industry has long claimed that all marine drive manufacturers are united in their stand against propeller guards. Drive manufacturers say their united stand is an example of how unsafe propeller guards are, the problems they create, and of the impossibility of designing a safe, functional propeller guard. Some marine drive manufacturers have voided the warranty of drives due to propeller guards being mounted on them.

Yanmar may not have installed them, but they set their drives up to use them. Yanmar Service Manual. Diesel Outboard Motor. Models D27A & D36A. Manual # A0A5055-JC03. Model Year 2000. The cover page, and page 141 are reproduced here.

It is obvious from these images that Yanmar built drives with the full intent of them being used with propeller guards AND did so at the request of their customers.

Yanmar Preforms Propeller Guard Mounting Holes

Yanmar preforms propeller guard mounting holes in diesel outboard lower legs

Those objecting to propeller guards sometimes claim the holes drilled for mounting some guards could cause the drive to corrode. Yanmar solved that problem by pre-forming the holes.

Others have claimed that outboards and stern drives were not designed to support propeller guards or the loads they might generate in use. Still others have claimed the drilling of mounting holes could weaken drives and cause them to break.

Long ago, we suggested marine drive manufacturers beef up the drives most likely to have guards mounted to them if necessary, and supply “knock-outs” that could be easily punched out to create mounting holes for propeller guards.

Propeller Guard Paradox Defeated by Ant Farm
Propeller Guard Information Center

“Drive manufacturers could design their drives in advance to accept their own propeller guards by beefing areas needing reinforced and by incorporating any necessary mounting holes either as pre-formed holes or as “knock outs” that could be easily removed.”

Yanmar took that approach one step further (even before we suggested the idea). They went ahead and drilled or formed the holes in an optional lower leg.

2 Categories : Guard Technologies

Dick Snyder, Mercury Marine’s expert witness in propeller guard cases, designed a propeller guard back in 1989.

Placing the event in historical perspective, this was a very eventful time. The U.S. Coast Guard NBSAC Propeller Guard Subcommittee was formed on May 11, 1988, met twice more in 1988, met in May of 1989, then delivered their final report in November of 1989. Also in 1989, the Institute for Injury Reduction, led by Ben Kelley, was loudly calling for the use of propeller guards. In November and December of 1990, Mercury Marine and Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) ran the propeller guard tests in the circular tank at State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo using the Snyder guard on a OMC outboard. In 1991, Mercury Marine was able to convince a court to dismiss a propeller case based on Federal Pre-emption (a defense the boating industry then employed for almost a decade).

It seems like an odd time for Mercury to be developing a propeller guard. Documents indicate they were probably attracted by the potential to sell a large number of outboards to the military. At that time Rigid Raiding Craft (RRC) were 18 foot Boston Whalers powered by twin OMC 70 horsepower outboards. Note, this was before Brunswick owned Boston Whaler.

The military was in process of beefing up its riverine, littoral, brown water capabilities. Rigid Raiding Craft (inflatable hard bottomed boats) were announced in 1987. Rigid Raiding Craft were to be directly launched from internal bays of larger vessels offshore, to carry soldiers to shore for quick actions, then return them to the larger “Mother Ship”. They were often used for Over-The-Horizon (OTH) raids. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

Recreational boat propellers often strike swimmers, divers, snorkelers, tubers, people ejected from the boat, logs, driftwood, dredge pipes, debris, marine life, or other floating or submerged objects. A model of those risks would be useful in crafting:

  • Boating safety tips
  • Regulations
  • Propeller safety products
  • Design and marking of swimming, snorkeling, and diving areas
  • Boat and boat entry and exit design
  • The place of alcohol, life jackets, and boating safety training
  • Boat designs

We encourage college math and engineering students looking for a senior design project, capstone project, senior thesis, masters thesis, or similar project to consider modeling the risk or probability of a propeller strike in a given area. Read More→

0 Categories : Research Projects