Archive for July 2016

Back in November 2011 we covered Mercury Marine’s Moving Propeller Alert. It displays LED lights to swimmers behind the vessel when the engine is running. Those same LED lights blink in a rotational pattern when the engine is on and the propeller is rotating. The propeller safety device was originally limited to boats with Mercury’s SmartCraft CANBUS network.

Mercury Marine MP Alert oval bezel

Mercury Marine MP Alert oval bezel

Mercury Marine has since updated their Moving Propeller Alert (MP Alert). MP Alert is now available in a smaller size for mounting where space is limited and for use on non-SmartCraft boats and with non-Mercury outboard motors. The system can run up to four individual rotating lights that can be a mix of the larger and smaller ones if desired.

As to use on non-Mercury systems, as we understand it, a switch in the dash allow the operator to turn the system off and on when swimmers are in the water. The two page flyer does not specifically say the lights automatically rotate when the engine is running and shifted into gear on non-Mercury outboards. They may be asking the operator to switch it on at those times when swimmers are in the water.

The LED lights are automatically dimmed at night so they will not be confused with navigational lights.

Mercury issued a colorful 2 page pdf sheet describing the updated MP Alert propeller safety system.

0 Categories : New Products

Kaelynne Driscoll and her dog, Ditch

Kaelynne Driscoll and her dog, Ditch

Kaelynne Driscoll, an 8 year old girl, was riding an inner tube with her father, Christopher Driscoll, on Wednesday 6 July 2016. They were tubing on Skaneateles Lake in Onondaga County New York behind a 17 foot Bayliner boat. The tube struck a wake, she and her father fell from the tube, the boat, being operated by Kaelynne’s step mother (Jamie Wheeler), circled back around to pick them up, and both were struck by the boat’s propeller.

Authorities were first called a little before 6pm.

Two Good Samaritans boating nearby (Eric Marcinkowski or Syracuse and David Goetzmann or Skaneateles) pulled them from the water and took them to shore at the State Boat ramp near A41 where they were met by first paramedics and taken to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse New York.

The Good Samaritans later told their story to They had only been out a short time when they heard screams. Marcinkowski went to a nearby swim platform where he grabbed Kaelynne from her father. Her father was trying to hold her up as her life jacket had been cut off by the boat propeller. As Marcinkowski pulled the girl from the water, he started wrapping her in towels to try to slow down blood loss, while he tried to keep her head steady. Goetzmann quickly drove them to the boat ramp where paramedics had already arrived.

Kaelynne had been struck in the head, arm, and leg. Read More→

Rex Chambers' boat with outboard motor broke off

Pro angler, Rex Chambers’ boat with outboard motor broke off

When outboard motors strike submerged objects they can break off and flip into the boat as seen in our lists of outboard motors breaking off and flipping into boats and large outboard motors breaking off and flipping into bass boats.

We previously posted information on several existing and proposed solutions, including The Leash, a vectran tether targeting bass boat applications.

Submerged objects have a wide range of characteristics ranging from almost pure water with just a few weeds or small pieces of debris all the way up to stumps, pilings, dredge pipes, railroad ties, and concrete piers. When outboard motors from various manufacturers of various sizes and speeds strike this wide range of objects, the outboard motor log strike system behaves in a number of different ways (modes).

Especially of interest are outboard motors that break off the boat. Breaking off the boat is a prerequisite to breaking off and flipping into the boat. Not all outboards that break off will flip into the boat. But for an outboard to pass over the rear deck, and enter the seating area of a bass boat, it must first break off the boat.

The Outboard Motor Log Strike Modes Chart for a bass boat below illustrates the range of behaviors (modes) encountered.

Outboard Motor Log Strike Modes

Outboard Motor Log Strike Modes

Read More→

Evinrude operators manual warning for outboard may break off and enter boat after striking submerged objects.

Evinrude operators manual warning for outboard may break off and enter boat after striking submerged objects.

Bombardier and Mercury Marine outboard operators manuals have long warned parts of or all of an outboard motor may enter the boat after striking a submerged object.

An example from the 2012 250 horsepower Evinrude E-tec manual is shown at right.

A big thanks to Bombardier Recreational Products & Vehicles (BRP) for putting their operators manuals online.

Some manufacturers sell the manuals at price point preventing many from ordering them. Bombardier does sell the manuals if you want a paper copy, but they also make them available online. Those who may have lost the manual or purchased a used boat without the manual, have free access to the outboard manuals.

We encourage all boat and marine drive manufacturers to make their operators manuals available online in the interest of boating safety. Read More→

We charted the the Design Flow Process designing outboard motors in a manner that prevents them from entering the boat after striking submerged objects. The chart was designed specifically with tournament bass boat outboard motors in mind.

The chart has since been updated since it was originally posted. The most recent version is below.

Flip In Design Chart

Flip In Design Chart

Read More→

Most major outboard manufacturers conduct a log strike test on new outboard models to prove durability.

Manufacturers either test them on the water by actually running over a log of a given type, diameter, and length, or on a test stand they think simulates on water testing.

These impact tests are typically conducted at a speed based on the horsepower of the outboard. Testing tends to start at a lower speed, then build up to the maximum speed selected for the test. Some manufacturers conduct more that one test at the maximum speed tested.

In general, the outboard must still be operational (run) after the test, the cowl is to remain attached, and the outboard is to be capable of at least limping back to shore (capable of some steering and of some trim). The outboard is to have no major oil leaks. At least one manufacturer say no parts of the outboard are to enter the vessel during the testing.

Focusing our discussion on larger outboards, especially those targeting tournament bass boat applications, most manufacturers impact test them at maximum speeds of the nature of 30 to 40 mph.

The problem is tournament bass boats tend to run 70 mph or faster. Read More→

Edwin Evers celebrating winning Bassmaster Classic 2016 Mercury Marine image

Edwin Evers celebrating winning Bassmaster Classic 2016
Mercury Marine image

We were privileged to attend the 2016 Bassmaster Classic on Grand Lake with the weigh-ins in Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 4-6, 2016.

Edwin Evers, a local professional bass fisherman came from behind on day 3 to win the tournament.

We just noticed Mercury issued a press release back on 8 March 2016 about the Evers win and about him using their Mercury 250 Pro XS outboard motor.

We congratulate Mercury on being on the winner’s boat.

While at the tournament we noted the presence of technical support crews and trucks from various manufacturers associated with the event, including Mercury.

Near the end of the press release, Mercury tells of the reliability of their outboard and of the contribution made by their tech support crew when Edwin Evers struck a log on day 2 (Saturday).

Mercury Marine
portion of Press Release
8 March 2016

Evers leans on dependability, service crew

Evers wouldn’t have been in position for a Sunday comeback without the reliability of his 250 ProXS (and the on-site Mercury service crew) on Saturday. Making the run back to the check-in point at the end of the day, Evers struck a log while on pad, severely damaging his propeller and causing a wicked vibration in his lower unit. Evers managed to continue motoring back to Wolf Creek in time to check in, and turned his boat over to Mercury’s on-site service crew for emergency repairs.
“That lower unit held together for 30 miles at 60 miles per hour,” Evers said. “The vibration from the damaged prop was just crazy – I was a nervous wreck, but I didn’t have any other choice but to keep going. I wouldn’t have had a chance to win the Classic without the durability of my 250 ProXS.”

Below is a photo we took of Mercury’s support truck while we were at the event.

Mercury Marine fishing tournament support trailer at Bassmaster Classic 2016 on Grand Lake.

Mercury Marine fishing tournament support trailer at Bassmaster Classic 2016 on Grand Lake.

As in our Day 2 photo below, we saw Mercury, Yamaha, Evinrude, and Suzuki outboards at the Classic. While not true in this particular photo, Mercury powered more boats than all the other manufacturers combined.

2016 Bassmaster Classic Day 2. Outboards at the dock before blastoff.

2016 Bassmaster Classic Day 2. Outboards at the dock before blastoff.

0 Categories : Bass Tournaments

Numerous previous posts concerned outboard motors striking submerged objects, breaking off, and flipping into boats, preventing or mitigating those accidents, log strike systems, accidents and legal trials involving such accidents and related topics.

We will now be covering this topic in this category of the PropellerSafety blog.

If anyone wonders why we are covering these accidents on, its because outboards that break off and enter the boat typically come in with the engine still running, the propeller at a high RPM, and often result in severe or fatal propeller injuries. Read More→

Boni Blalack Los Angeles Times photo

Boni Blalack
Los Angeles Times photo

On 27 February 2015, the world lost an inspiration to us all, Boni B. Blalack, 83, passed away in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena California.

Boni Buehler as a stewardess

Boni Buehler as a stewardess
Long Beach Press Telegram

We knew of her life as Boni Buehler, a beautiful young stewardess involved in the highest profile recreational boat propeller accident of all time back in 1953. We covered the accident in a post titled, Boni Buehler – 1953 Boat Propeller Accident. The accident involved many ties to the rich and famous, the legal trial involved one of the most colorful lawyers of all time, Melvin M.. Belli. Mr. Belli introduced many methods now regularly used in accident cases, including the use of expert witnesses and of video taping testimony.

Bonni Buehler press conference image 1

Bonni Buehler press conference image 1
USC Digital Library

But enough of that, Mrs. Blalack is known for her tremendous courage in overcoming the hardships of losing and arm at the shoulder and a leg at the hip in an era long before modern prosthetics. She was told by doctors she would never walk again, never drive again, and never have children. She took to a couple wooden crutches and an arm strap, then showed them all to be wrong. She went on to have a great marriage, three children, run a cosmetics business, and inspire almost everyone she met.

The following quote is from her obituary in the Los Angeles Times:

Boni B. Blalack obituary exerpt
Los Angeles Times
8 March 2015

Wherever Boni went she was noticed. She would simply smile at those who stared and go happily on her way. Most realized they had witnessed something and someone special, and if they were fortunate they met her and became a friend. Those she did meet were in awe of her and inspired by not only her rare courage but also by her generous and kindhearted nature. She reshaped perceptions about the unlimited potential that exists in everyone and during an age when a double amputee, without prosthetics, might have chosen to shy away from a public life, she ignored conventional thought and taught everyone the value of strength of character, a positive attitude, and the power of compassion and kindness.

We encourage all to learn from Boni Blalack’s example. When we face hard things in life, let us remember how she overcame tremendous challenges with courage and determination. May we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and do the same.

Boni Buehler arriving by airplane

Boni Buehler arriving by airplane
USC Digital Library

We apologize for not eulogizing this great lady earlier. We only learned of her death today (12 July 2016).

0 Categories : Memorials

Cash Fox based on NBC2 photo

Cash Fox
based on NBC2 photo

Cash Fox, a 7 year old Florida boy was on a 20 foot boat with his father (Kevin Cash) and his 11 year old brother near Stump Pass Marina, near Englewood in Charlotte County, Florida the morning of Saturday 9 July 2016. A little before 9am, Cash’s father,

The boy was taken to Englewood Community Hospital where he later died. Read More→