Archive for Regulation

U.S. Coast Guard emblemThe U.S. Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) will be meeting April 21-23, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia for its 95th meeting (NBSAC95).

The Coast Guard recently published a request for public comments in the Federal Register to be submitted by April 14th for distribution to NBSAC Council members. We responded today with two public comments.

Public Comment #1 – we resent the same public comment we sent back in October 2014 about the industry ignoring the scenario of large outboard motors striking submerged objects, breaking off boats, and flipping into the boat with the propeller still under power and turning at a very high RPM.

Public Comment #2 – at NBSAC94 a request was put forth to look into the October 2007 dismissal of the proposed Houseboat propeller safety regulation USCG-2001-10163. Advance materials for NBSAC95 include the Federal Register entry for the rejection of 10163. Our 2nd public comment requests NBSAC (1) review three pages of our previous report on errors made in the rejection of 10163, (2) publicly respond to the points made on those three pages based on conditions at that time so the errors of the past will no longer misguide the conversation of potential future actions. Then we suggest some steps for NBSAC and the Coast Guard to consider in any current efforts to address houseboat propeller injuries.

Our second comment included a copy of our 2010 report analyzing USCG-2001-10163 and its rejection. Read More→

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Listman Trial - Rendering of Alternative Propeller Guard

Listman Trial – Rendering of Alternative Propeller Guard image courtesy of CVN

We previously covered Hawaii House Bill 2024 requiring mandatory use of propeller guards on all recreational boats within 500 meters of shore.

The bill was introduced and passed its first reading on 25 January 2016.

On 27 January 2016 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Ocean, Marine Resources, & Hawaiian Affairs (OMH)

The bill was heard by OMH on 12 February 2016.

OMH recommended the bill be passed with amendments on 17 February 2016, the same date testimony on the bill was heard before OMH in a Public Hearing.

Public testimony could be submitted online. Submissions were posted as a group on the Hawaii State Legislature page for the bill. The first page is the testimony of Suzanne D. Case, Chairperson of the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Suzanne D. Case: State of Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources
“While propeller guards may decrease the possibility of critical or fatal injuries in some instances, they can also interfere with the operation of the vessel that can hinder navigation, for instance, debris such as plastic bags can become entangled with the prop guard and cause cavitation. Propeller guards are also not manufactured for all vessels as they are typically affixed to outboard engines but may be impractical to install on sailboats and certain straight shaft vessels.

She goes on to say her Department thinks public outreach, training, and education would be more effective. She notes some of those programs that are already underway including mandatory vessel operator boater safety training and Boating Safety Week.

Prior to 17 February, the proposed bill HB2024 was to take effect upon its passing. It would obviously take some time for the industry to respond and prepare to meet those requirements. We are used to seeing the Coast Guard use dates like three years after passing, then the industry will try to move them back further.

However, in this instance the bill was amended as House Bill 2024 HD1 with an effective date of 24 December 2088. Read More→

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The recent death of Sri Shim by a boat propeller has energized calls for safer waters off Hawaii.

Luke Evslin, injured in a high profile propeller accident 5 years ago, is also speaking out for the need for propeller guards.

House Bill 2024 now calls for propeller guards / prop guards to be installed on all motorized recreational boats operating within 500 meters of shore.

A House Committee will hold a hearing on the bill Wednesday 17 February at 9am.

Hawaii proposes propeller guard bill. Hawaii News Now

Hawaii proposes propeller guard bill. Hawaii News Now image

Read More→

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New South Wales (NSW), an Australian state that includes Sydney, recently proposed an update to their Marine Safety Regulations. The update addresses many issues, including mandatory wear of kill switch lanyards on vessels of less than 4.8 meters (about 15.75 feet) equipped with a kill switch.

The new proposed safety regulations are introduced by their Maritime Management Centre at Marine Safety Regulation. The page includes links to the proposed regulation, a regulatory impact statement, and a feedback form. Read More→

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Following up on the Dinner Key July 4th, 2014 accident in South Florida (four fatalities and several critically injured), Trevor Bach of Miami New Times published a Riptide blog post on 31 July 2014 titled, “Dinner Key Tragedy: Advocates Say Florida Could Save Lives With One Simple Safety Law”

Kill Switch Lanyard

Lanyard photo courtesy of The U.S. Coast Guard

In the article Trevor Bach notes five states currently require mandatory wear of kill-switch lanyards (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois, Nevada), and notes “Florida, the most popular state for boating and also the deadliest, with 62 fatalities last year, is conspicuously absent from the list.”

He says boating safety advocates say the boating industry does not want kill-switch lanyard use to be mandatory, then quotes me as saying “They don’t want mandatory anything”. Read More→

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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its final rule 31 March 2014 requiring backup cameras on all new vehicles less than 10,000 pounds by May 2018. The rule includes trucks and busses.

Field of view must include the 10 foot by 20 foot zone directly behind the vehicle.

Many automobile manufacturers are already installing the cameras.

FMVSS-111 Rear Visibility Final Rule is anticipated to significantly reduce the number of children backed over.

2010 estimated costs were $132 to $142 per vehicle, or $43 to $45 for camera only installations (vehicle already had a display). Read More→

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Samantha "Sam" Smith of BBC

Samantha “Sam” Smith of BBC

“Inside Out South West” on BBC aired about a ten minute investigative report on boat kill cord safety in the UK on Monday evening September 30, 2013.

If you have not yet seen the video, details for viewing it through approximately Monday October 6th are on our announcement of the broadcast. If you are still unable to view the video, BBC did share about two minutes of the ten minute video at Call for Compulsory Speedboat Safety Cords. They also made that two minute clip available on YouTube, but it was later removed.

Most of the ten minute show focused on the issue of making the wearing of boat kill-cords mandatory and if the industry and regulatory groups were doing enough to make boaters safe.

Samantha “Sam” Smith, a nice, bubbly female reporter / presenter that can get serious when she needs to, leads viewers through BBC’s findings.

Others on the show or mentioned included:

  • Heddon Johnson – father of Tristan Johnson killed in a kill cord preventable accident in 2000
  • Paul Glatzel – RYA power boat trainer
  • Nicholas Milligan family – the family in the Padstow accident is discussed
  • James Hobard – powerboat expert that demonstrated wireless Coast Key
  • Harbor Patrol – Heddon Johnson goes for a ride with them

Read More→

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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→

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Since the mid 1990’s the United States Coast Guard has published several notices concerning proposed regulations involving propeller guards & other propeller safety devices, and requested public input on those proposals. While much of the focus has been on propeller guards, other propeller safety devices have also been discussed. Among them are swim ladder interlock switches, backup alarms, mirrors, swim gate switches, kill switches, virtual kill switches, starter delays (beeps for a few seconds before starts), and rear view cameras.

Propeller Solutions Propeller Guard

Propeller Solutions Propeller Guard

The announcements have been published in the Federal Register.

A few notices have only requested comments, however, most of them refer to a proposed rule. When notices of a proposed rule are first published, they are typically marked as a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM) or as an “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPRM).

The process appears to have been less defined prior to 1998. The Coast Guard was using its own set of docket numbers and reused one of them several times as a rental boat propeller safety project continued to evolve. USCG opened and closed public comment periods numerous times, renamed the proposal a few times, then finally renumbered the proposal under the new docket system in order to archive the records.

In this post we bring all those notices together and post them as a timeline. Read More→

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A case currently before U.S. District Court in Seattle may have bearing on the licensing of propeller guards and other propeller safety technologies.

In the past, some have said that swim ladder switches such at Keith Jackson / MariTech’s Prop Stopper could not be included in any USCG propeller safety regulation because they are a proprietary, patented design.

Boat Propeller Proximity to the Swim Ladder

Boat Propeller Proximity to the Swim Ladder

We have previously explained that when a company agrees to allow its patented products to be included in an industry standard, it must license others in the the industry so they too can meet the new industry standard, AND that license must be at a reasonable rate. Legal types refer to these reasonable patent license terms as RAND (Reasonable AND Non Discriminatory) or as FRAND (Fair, Reasonable AND Non Discriminatory).

The Federal Government retains the right to step in and reset those terms if the licensor tries to gouge the other participants.

We have also relatively recently written of the Australian Environmental Safety Propeller and its effort to sign a licensing agreement with a manufacturer. As part of that discussion we mentioned how that discussion might proceed. We noted that mechanical devices often license somewhere in the range of 4 to 7 percent of sales. Another method is to request something in the range of 25 percent of the profits.

In the case of the Australian Safety Propeller, the propeller guys would probably begin by asking for something in the range of 4 to 7 percent of the sales of a marine drive PLUS the Propeller (4 to 7 percent of a lot of money) while the manufacturer would probably be thinking of something in the range of 4 to 7 percent of the propeller only. After they talk it out quite a while, they would probably settle somewhere in the middle.

Yamaha recently released a propeller guard in Europe they claim meets all their expectations. If such a guard were to be accepted as an industry standard, it would face licensing issues similar to those faced by the swim ladder switch and the Safety Propeller.

Reference: Pivotal Patent Case Heads to Court: Microsoft, Motorola Mobility Face Off Over Paying for Technology That is Part of an Industry Standard. Wall Street Journal. November 12, 2012. Page. B4.

A very interesting case is coming to court in Seattle the week of November 12, 2012 that addresses both the points raised above:

  • What is a reasonable rate / royalty percentage?
  • Should that rate be paid on the value of the technology itself (like on the Safety Propeller) OR should that royalty be paid on the value of the device that uses the technology (marine drive plus propeller)?

Read More→

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