Archive for August 2013

Molly Moses in 2013

Molly Moses in 2013

Molly Moses, 16, was boating on the Tennessee River at Lake Wheeler shortly before midnight Friday 31 July, 2009. She was with her father, Brian Moses, and a family friend in an 18 foot fishing boat near Findley Island in Morgan County, Alabama.

They were returning from a fishing trip, the boat lurched hard to the right for some unknown reason, Molly and the family friend (a 25 year old male from Hartselle) were ejected. Brian Moses said the steering wheel helped him stay on board. Molly Moses’ leg was nearly severed by the propeller. Her father dove in to help, and the family friend came to her aid as well. Her dad used his shirt as a tourniquet to help stop her leg from bleeding.

Some nearby bowfishermen helped get her to shore. At least three calls were made to 911 which helped make sure medical care was at the harbor when they made it to shore. Two were made anonymously by someone viewing from shore, the third was by someone at the boat launch when they arrived.

The calls were really helpful, because the Moses’ phones and the phone of the gentleman with them in the boat were not functional after they jumped in to help her.

A few minutes after Molly arrived at the dock, paramedics had her out of the boat and were inserting intravenous fluid lines. Read More→

Aaron Tepfer

Aaron Tepfer

Friday afternoon August 23, 2013 Aaron Tepfer, 10 of Cedarhurst New York, was tubing with four friends on Reynolds Channel, just off Lawrence, New York (an area known as Five Towns). The boat was being operated by the father of one of the other boys. Aaron fell from the tube and was climbing back into the boat about 2:20 pm when his left leg became caught / entrapped in the propeller.

Emergency calls came in at 2:23 pm. Five different emergency rescue teams responded. They were able to extricate him from the propeller. Aaron Tepfer was unconscious when they pulled him from the water. He was life flighted to St. John’s Hospital in Far Rockaway in serious condition with severe injuries to his thigh, then transferred to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park.

First responders rushed to his aid on jet skis (PWCs) and boats. He had lost a lot of blood and every second counted. Read More→

The U.S. Coast Guard requested public comments on an Industrial Economics Incorporated (IEC) report, “Estimating the Benefits of Reducing the Risk of Recreational Boating Accidents: Alternative Sources of Information on Fatalities, Injuries, and Property Damages” by August 27, 2013 in docket #USCG-2013-0437. The report was funded by USCG to investigate how underreporting / under reporting of boating accidents, injuries, fatalities, and property damages in USCG’s Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) might be modified to allow a more accurate estimate of the cost of boating accidents.

We filed our public comments today (August 26th) via and encourage any who have not yet done so to do the same before the deadline (midnight Eastern Time Tuesday night August 27, 2013 as I understand it). We especially encourage boat builders and marine drive manufacturers to file public comments on the report.

Our comments are available at Our Public Comment Letter.

Our comments were pretty long, but we tried to especially draw attention to three major flaws in the report. Read More→

0 Categories : Regulations

Samantha Maywell

Samantha Maywell

Samantha Maywell, 24, known as Mermaid Samantha of Brookswell, Florida was boating with two other Weeki Wachee Springs Mermaids on the Gulf of Mexico about 15 minutes off Hernando Beach on Thursday August 22.

Details are still sketchy, but Samantha (Mermaid Samantha)’s left leg was struck by a boat propeller about 4:30 pm.

All three mermaids were on a pontoon boat. Samantha Maywell fell overboard and her left leg was almost severed by the propeller. The other two mermaids were not injured. Samantha was taken to the shore, then on to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, Florida where she was in critical condition.

More recent reports indicate they were out after dark on a pontoon boat, the wind and waves came up, and they started to shore. The winds kept them in the channel, another boat drifted toward them, and Samantha went to the stern to push away the drifting boat. A large wave stuck the pontoon, she fell over the stern, and into the propeller. Read More→

The two major U.S. recreational marine drive companies of the past many years: Brunswick / Mercury Marine and Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) have been in the forefront of “debunking” propeller guards in court since the 1970’s. In this post we estimate their total expenses in developing propeller guards designed to protect people at less than $25,000 combined.

Outboard Marine Corporation was formed in 1929 from the merger of two existing outboard motor manufacturers. OMC went bankrupt in December 2000, but their insurance company still represents them against propeller injury claims.

Mercury Marine began as Kiekhaefer Corporation in 1939, and was acquired by Brunswick Corporation in 1961.

During the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s OMC and Mercury often worked together in testing propeller guards, most notably during the November-December 1990 SUNY tests. They also collaborated on legal defense efforts. Dick Snyder, Mercury Marine’s expert witness in propeller injury cases, served as an expert for OMC in several cases as well. Plus they conducted a large joint mock propeller trial in early 1989. Mercury later tried to downplay this period of legal cooperation with OMC against their common enemy (propeller injury suits). We mention this period of cooperation because it is relevant to Mercury and OMC being the major industry voices in the U.S. against propeller guards.

We (and they) have occasionally been asked how much money they spent trying to develop a “people protecting” propeller guard. The “people protecting” part is important as the industry has developed a few propeller guards which they claim were not for protecting people or were for protecting people in an extremely limited instance. Quite recently we were asked this same question again so we began to gather documents and created this post. Read More→

2 Categories : Legal Shorts

We heard from our friends at Propeller Solutions in the UK last Friday (August 2, 2013). They are continuing to improve their vane / vein type guard called the Prop Deflector.

Propeller Solutions Facebook Page links to some of their recent test data and photos on Dropbox.

They also recently announced a new website specifically devoted to their Prop Deflector. The new website announces the Propeller Deflector being an Innovation Award finalist at 2013 SeaWork International, identifies their current models (which outboards they can fit – the list continues to grow), and shows off some nice photos of their propeller guard.

Propeller Solutions is trying to build a guard (deflector) that will deflect people from the propeller while providing minimal impact on top speed, handling, and other variables at speed. The new web site notes test results are showing only a 5 percent impact on top speed (even using the standard propeller) on a 30 knot RIB, and Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is using them. Read More→

2 Categories : New Products

Many have suggested the boating industry’s objections to propeller guards may be profit motivated. Some propeller safety advocates and some of those struck by propellers suggest the industry does not want to use propeller guards because guards will reduce the number of dinged up and bent propellers that need replacing. Fewer bent or damaged props would lead to reduced sales of their highly profitable replacement propellers. This post will focus purely on market size, not on motivations.

Volvo Penta SX Propeller

Volvo Penta SX Propeller

Propellers have long been known to be an extremely profitable business for the boating industry, and especially for manufacturers of marine drives.

As Polson Enterprises, we have been hired several times in the past and paid thousands of dollars to estimate the size of portions or all of the recreational boat propeller market. Just a few days ago, we were asked the same question by a major news network. While we are not going to give away all our secrets for free, we will offer a few statistics here.



RingProp safety propeller

In 2002 RingProp, then a UK firm developing a ringed propeller, estimated there were 2.5 million boat propellers being sold annually in the U.S., and about 4 million being sold annually worldwide. We suspect that “those in the know” might tend to discount RingProp’s estimate a few percent due to them trying to rev up potential stock buyers, but the RingProp estimate is a good starting estimate before the current economic downturn in new boat sales. Read More→

2 Categories : Legal Shorts