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Archive for Boating Safety

An 18 July 2017 Centerport Yacht Club propeller accident claimed the life of 12 year-old Ryan Weiss. Three boys learning how to sail were with a sailboat that had been capsized on purpose as a training exercise. One of the boys, Ryan Weiss, was picked up by a RIB piloted by an 18 year old sailing instructor. As the RIB accelerated to bring Ryan to shore, Ryan fell overboard and was fatally struck by the propeller.

Following the accident, many U.S. sailing/yachting facilities providing sailing instruction to youth quickly began reviewing their previous decisions not to use propeller guard. Propeller guards are already widely used in Australian youth sailing programs.

For any wondering why propeller guards are needed with a sailboat, the guards are used with coaching boats, safety boats, chase boats, referee boats, media boats, and other boats associated with youth sailing instruction and youth sailing competitions.

In response to the Centerport Yacht Club accident, New York Assemblyman Andrew Raia, Republican from East Northport and an avid boater from the 12th District, is proposing a state law in New York requiring propeller guards on all vessels used to instruct children, per a 28 August 2017 CBSNY article. The article also includes a great video.

New York Assemblyman Raia holding Propeller Guard Press Conference image clipped from CBSNY image

New York Assemblyman Raia holding Propeller Guard Press Conference
image clipped from CBSNY image

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0 Categories : Regulations

NBC Channel 4, Washington D.C., aired a series of stories on boat design defects on 16 August 2017.

Ryan Batchelder clipped from NBC Channel 4 image

Ryan Batchelder
clipped from NBC Channel 4 image

The series focuses on:

  1. Two families: (1) family of Ryan Batchelder, 7 year old boy killed by a boat propeller in Georgia in 2014, and (2) family of Niki Bell, struck by a boat propeller in California in 2006 at age 22.
  2. The two accidents, both individuals were washed overboard
  3. The two boat builders involved (Malibu and MasterCraft)
  4. The lack of Federal Regulation of the boating industry
  5. Court documents and comments by experts

NBC4 chose to release the story in a number of segments throughout the day with the tagline, “Small Craft Advisory” instead of as a free standing documentary.

Small Craft Advisory graphic by NBC4

Small Craft Advisory graphic by NBC4

They did a nice job of interviewing people and supplying several videos to support their findings.
While it likely made a lot of sense if you watched their various news programs dispersed throughout the day, it is challenging to try to recreate that experience from their website, Facebook page, or app.

Therefore we organized links to the various segments below. Read More→

0 Categories : Propeller Safety News

Large outboard motors lined up at 2014 Tulsa Boat Show.

Large outboard motors lined up at 2014 Tulsa Boat Show.

The boating industry has been plagued with certain boat propeller safety hazards / issues for decades, some for over a century. While progress have been made on many fronts, some problems remain perpetual / eternal. Some solutions that have been applied have failed, others have wilted on the shelves for a variety of reasons.

Some Perpetual Boating Safety /Propeller Accident Scenarios

As a result of the issues described above, and more, we have been left with a number of PERPETUAL / ETERNAL boating safety / propeller safety accident scenarios including:

  • Participants in towed sports being run over by the boat propeller after they fell from the skis/board/tube/inflatable and the operator returned to pick them up
  • Unmanned outboard powered boats go in the Circle of Death
  • Children bow ride pontoon boats underway, fall between the pontoons, and are struck by the propeller
  • Operators reversing houseboats from beaches with swimmers in the water behind them
  • Boat operator and others being ejected from a bass boat
  • Bass boats strike submerged objects, their outboard motors break off, and flip into the vessel with their propeller still running
  • Inflatable PFDs not inflating or being cut and deflated by propellers if they do
  • Boaters not wearing their life jackets and if they do, they increase their likelihood of being entrapped on the propeller or being struck by the propeller in a Circle of Death accident
  • Entrapped on open boat propellers
  • Coaching, escort, and safety boats used with youth sailing, open water swimming, rowing, crewing, sculling, canoeing, wake surfing (with a sail), and other similar activities often in an amateur racing format are striking people in the water with their propellers. For example, the July 2017 Long Island New York accident
  • Those reboarding the boat at the swim ladder are sucked into the propeller
  • Divers and snorkelers being ran over by boat propellers and sometimes struck by the propeller of their own dive charter boat
  • PWC riders interacting with the wake of boat or trying to spray those on board are stuck by the propeller
  • Outboard motor starts in gear (typically involves rope started tiller steered outboards), one or more persons are ejected and struck by the propeller, can also happen with stern drives
  • Someone jumped into the water unbeknownst to the operator OR just at the moment the operator was going to reverse the boat

A quick look at the list shows several of those accident scenarios are interrelated, and most of them are tied to issues listed below (People Hazards, Water Hazards, Industry Positions, Media Reluctance, Existing Boat Designs), and all go back to the basic principles of propellers (rotating and sharp).


How the Propeller Accident Scenarios Listed Above Became Perpetual

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Engineering Tools Provide Solutions to Long Standing Boat Propeller Safety Issues

Two ostriches with heads in sand

Two ostriches with heads in sand

The boating industry repeatedly just sticks it head in the sand regarding long standing propeller safety issues. We suggest its time to go back to the drawing board on Perpetual boat propeller accident scenarios, like the Perpetual Propeller Accident Scenarios identified in a related post. Effective, practical, economical solutions need to be identified, tested, commercialized, and deployed.

Plenty new solutions remain to be discovered. Some effective, practical, economical solutions have long rejected by the boating industry. New materials and technologies are constantly placing more tools in our tool belt. One resource often overlooked, are solutions to similar problems in other industries.

We hope the tools below aid all those addressing long standing boat propeller safety issues.


The Safety Hierarchy

The Safety Hierarchy defines the sequence of steps used by product design engineers and safety professionals to prevent injuries once specific hazards are identified. In its simplest version the process is to identify the hazards of use, potential misuse, and of the environment in which the product is to be used.
Then:
     1. Design,
     2. Guard, and
     3. Warn.

When a hazard is identified, the best thing to do is to design out the hazard. By removing the hazard the danger no longer exits.

If it is not feasible to design out the hazard, the next best step is to guard against the hazard. Guards are physical barriers between people and the hazard. People that cannot come in contact with the hazard cannot be injured by it.

If guarding is not practical, the next best step is to warn of the hazard. Warnings require numerous actions of the person being warned to be effective. As a result, warnings are much less effective than designing out the hazard or the use of guards. Thus warnings are last step in the safety hierarchy as it is presented in its most basic form.

The three step Safety Hierarchy above is often presented with two more steps:

4. Training
5. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Training and personal protective equipment are often used in manufacturing operations where someone has administrative control over the workers. Factory employees receive training /instruction, and protective equipment (such as eye shields, hearing protection, gloves, steel toed boots, respirators). Read More→

In December 2013 we published a report, Approaches to Prevent Outboard Motors From Flipping Into Boats After Striking Floating or Submerged Objects in which we identified several ways to prevent outboard motors from breaking off and flipping into boats after striking submerged objects. One of those was was active trim control (see pages 33-34 of our report) by using a magnetic fluid in the trim (tilt) cylinder and using position feedback (how far is the rod extended) during a log strike to adjust how much resistance the cylinder is applying to the upward swinging of the outboard. While the impacts are not as severe, the same approach is used for shocks on several cars.

Magnetic fluids are sometimes called Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluids. Also sometimes spelled as magnetorheological fluids. They change viscosity based on the presence of a magnetic field and upon its intensity.

Active control brings the ability to respond faster than existing systems and limit pressure overshoot today’s relief valves. It also provides the opportunity to measure the magnitude of the collision as it is occurring and then select the best way to respond or possibly to select one of several preprogramed ways to respond. One program could allow the outboard to rise up over the object before maximum resistance is applied (called trailover).

MR fluids are also currently used in some high end, rough water vessel chairs to dampen vibrations (protect your back in very rough water) for the U.S. Navy.

In January 2015, Brunswick filed a patent on this active trim cylinder approach that includes some interesting comments.

Brunswick’s patent, U.S. Patent 9,290,252 was issued 22 March 2016.

Delph Magneride image we posted with our discussion of using MagnetoRheolopical fluids in trim systems in 2013.

Delph Magneride image PropellerSafety.com posted with our discussion of using MagnetoRheolopical fluids in trim systems in 2013.

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Ten people were onboard a 21 foot Ski Nautique on Lake Gage in Steuben County Indiana about 7:15pm Saturday July 15, 2017. Dominique Effinger a 20 year old female was operating the boat. The boat took a hard turn and all ten people on board were ejected.

The unmanned boat went into the Circle of Death at an estimated 30 mph with ten people in the water.

A quote from the Journal Gazette perhaps best describes the chaos.

Journal Gazette
16 July 2016
 

“Several seriously injured people were taken to shore by local citizens’ boats so EMS and fire units could tend to the injuries, the statement said. It said two people were flown to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne with injuries including a skull fracture and a partial lower-arm amputation. Others less seriously hurt were taken to Cameron Memorial Community Hospital in Angola.
 
Conservation Officer Jake Carlile launched a Department of Natural Resources patrol boat as county sheriff’s deputies urged residents to move their boats and clear the area, the statement said. It said the unmanned 21-foot Ski Nautique motorboat was coming closer to boats and docks with each circle.
 
Carlile threw a rope from the patrol boat to entangle the motorboat’s propeller, the statement said. It said the boat then struck a dock and changed direction, striking the back of the patrol boat and disabling the patrol boat’s motor.
 
The rope slowed the motorboat, the statement said, and Carlile used a nearby personal watercraft to jump onto the runaway boat while both were in motion. He then brought the motorboat to a stop.”

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U.S Coast Guard has released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) reenacting the June 1994 accident on Table Rock Lake in Missouri that maimed Phyllis Kopyto and claimed the lives of her husband Bob Kopytko and of their fishing guide, Paul Brundridge. Phyllis speaks over the reenactment video.


USCG Kopytko kill switch PSA

USCG Kopytko kill switch PSA



The video is very forceful.
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The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) “Get Connected” campaign, funded by a U.S. Coast Guard grant, encourages boat operators to connect the kill switch / engine stop switch.

The purpose of connecting the kill switch lanyard / engine stop switch or using a virtual lanyard is to cause the boat to stop if the operator is ejected. Unmanned outboard motor boats underway tend to circle in the Circle of Death, repeatedly striking striking those in the water with the propeller.

In some instances stern drive or outboard powered boats can just run on down the lake leaving those in the water with no chance of reboarding and no visual indicator to others of their presence in the water. They may drown or be run over by other vessels.

We found one of NSBC images particularly striking and will comment on it below.

Get Connected hand image

Get Connected hand image


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Hunter Bland and Conner Young of the University of Florida Bass Fishing team were ejected from their bass boat at speed during a Collegiate tournament in January 2017.

A steering system failure caused the boat to abruptly turn to the right. Hunter was operating the boat and had the kill switch lanyard attached. Both young men were wearing life jackets.

Today, July 10, 2017 the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) released a great kill switch Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring Hunter Bland.

Kill Switch PSA: NSBC & Hunter Bland


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Yu Chen

Yu Chen

Yu Chen, 43, an accomplished wakesurfer (Sail Surfer) was teaching lessons on Lake Mendota in Wisconsin about 6 pm Wednesday 31 May 2017. The University of Wisconsin maintains a Lifesaving Station on the lake. Their boat was returning from a rescue to Governors Island when Yu Chen was struck between the UW LifeSaving Station and Edgewater Hotel.

The accident is under investigation. Among the agencies involved are Dane County Sheriff’s Office, University Police, and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Yu Chen was struck by a University of Wisconsin Lifesaving Station Boat. He was thought to have been wearing a GPS watch on his left arm which was severed from his body during the accident.

While the accident is still under investigation, media reports indicate he was struck in the neck by the propeller and his left arm was severed by the propeller.

Three people were thought to have been onboard the rescue boat.

The people on the rescue boat tried to help Chen, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Read More→