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U.S. Coast Guard emblemThe U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council met for its regularly scheduled NBSAC 95 meeting April 21-23, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia.

Minutes of that meeting were posted in October 2016.

We have spent considerable effort in recent years encouraging NBSAC to:

  1. Recognize outboard motors are breaking off and entering boats with their propellers still running after striking floating or submerged objects, and that this accident scenario is often associated with bass boats.
  2. Increase awareness level of this accident scenario

As we recently closely read the April 2016 NBSAC meeting minutes we noticed they did mention this accident scenario, but they described it in a manner we have never seen or heard before.
We find that quite odd, since several members of the committee and other industry representatives present were well associated with the problem.

NBSAC 95 minutes composite

NBSAC 95 minutes composite

The image above is a composite of pages 1,7, and 8 of the minutes. Read More→

U.S. Coast Guard emblemIn advance of the October 21-22, 2016 National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) 96th meeting, the U.S. Coast Guard requested public comments on items on the agenda. The announcement was published in the September 26th Federal Register and the public was given 5 days to respond.

One of the topics to be presented at the conference is a talk by Mr. Phil Cappel titled, “Recent Propeller Injuries & Discussion of Potential Mitigation Strategies”. We submitted a comment on this topic. Our comment lists three types of recent accidents and provides economical mitigation strategies for each of them that are not in wide use:

  • Pontoon boat “over the bow” propeller strikes – many are preventable by eliminating the bow forward of the fence OR by making it very uncomfortable to sit forward of the front fence and especially to sit on the bow with your legs dangling over the bow. One mitigation shown uses safety grating as flooring forward of the front fence. It is easy to walk on and very uncomfortable to sit on.
  • Circle of Death bass boat propeller strikes – preventable by the use of foot throttles (boat slows to an idle if ejected without a kill switch lanyard attached). Foot throttles are in wide use on bass boats, but they are not currently being marketed as a propeller safety device.
  • Large outboard motor strikes submerged object, outboard motor breaks off, and flips into the boat propeller strikes – preventable by the use of a tether

Our public comment letter provides additional details and links describing these accidents, provides lengthy lists of accidents of each type, and addition details on the mitigations mentioned above.


0 Categories : Regulations

USCG 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics cover

USCG 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics

U.S. Coast Guard recently released their annual 2015 recreational boating accident statistics report. Total counts for 2015 BARD reported accidents were 4,158 accidents, 2,613 injuries, and 626 fatalities.

USCG reported 158 propeller accidents, 150 propeller injuries, and 27 propeller fatalities.

We would like to thank USCG for all the efforts they put into this annual statistical report of boating accidents.

We would also like to thank USCG, law enforcement officials, lake patrols, first responders, nurses and physicians, those offering boating safety classes, boat safety equipment check points, safe boaters, state boating law administrators, life jacket loaner program participants, Operation Dry Water, and all others who work tirelessly to drive these annual totals down.

Plus thanks to all the state boating law administrators and all the officers in the field filling out the accident reports, and to the individuals that self reported their accidents.


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→

0 Categories : Regulations

This post is the second of a three part series on the new American Boat & Yacht Council consolidated warnings for recreational boats.

We announced the new labels in May 2015 in part 1, our post titled, ABYC Releases Consolidated Boat Warning Labels.

ABYC helm warning for outboard boat

ABYC helm warning for outboard boats

History of Development

Note – much of our story of the development of ABYC’s consolidated warnings rides upon work by others. Two sets of consultants plus Professional Boat Builder magazine each have published a history of a segment of their development. USCG’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council meeting minutes also provide a portion of the history. This posts identifies and pulls those previous documents together to provide a broader overview of the project. Read More→

0 Categories : History

Mark Barhanovich was killed 16 September 2012 when his 23 foot center console fishing boat struck a dredge pipe off Deer Island, Mississippi. The 225 horsepower Suzuki outboard motor broke off and flipped up into the boat, fatally striking him with its still rotating propeller.

Deer Island Barge Position

Position of the Deer Island, Mississippi barge associated with the dredging operation per USCG 2012 Week 37 Local Notice to Mariners dated September 12, 2012. Deer Island is the long thin island to the south west of the barge (red balloon).

Mr. Barhanovich’s family settled a civil suit against the dredging operation, C.F. Bean, LLC and other parties.

The United States Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Bean on Friday 16 October 2015 for not properly marking the dredge pipe.

Case Citation: United States of America v. C.F. Bean LLC. Criminal No: 1:15cr71HSO-RHW. United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi Southern Division.

Bean pleaded guilty in Federal Court on Tuesday 27 October 2015 to improperly marking its dredging operations near Deer Island. Read More→

0 Categories : Legal Shorts

USCG 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics

USCG 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics

U.S. Coast Guard released their annual recreational boating accident statistics report on Wednesday May 13th, 2015. Total counts for 2014 BARD reported accidents were 4,064 accidents, 2,678 injuries, and 610 fatalities.

USCG reported 153 propeller accidents, 148 propeller injuries, and 22 propeller fatalities.

We would like to thank USCG for all the efforts they put into this annual statistical report of boating accidents.

We would also like to thank USCG, law enforcement officials, lake patrols, first responders, nurses and physicians, those offering boating safety classes, boat safety equipment check points, safe boaters, state boating law administrators, life jacket loaner program participants, Operation Dry Water, and all others who work tirelessly to drive these annual totals down.


U.S. Coast Guard emblemThe U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) will be holding its 92nd meeting on November 6th-8th, 2014 in Arlington, Virgina.

Nonprofit Grant Comments

For the first time ever, they invited public comments about non-profit grant interest areas before the meeting. Each year the Coast Guard awards nonprofits a tidy some of money to promote boating safety and to run some studies, like the annual life jacket wear rate study. In 2013, the grants totaled over $5.5 million. Many boating safety organization live and die by these grants. Read More→

0 Categories : Regulations

Nicholas Milligan's Boat / RIB

Investigators at the 2013 Nicholas Milligan family accident in the U.K.

Manufacturers can be responsible for tracking post sale accidents worldwide such as this very high profile U.K. accident in which two were killed and two were critically injured. Boat builders, marine drive manufacturers, and other boating industry manufacturers have a duty to design, manufacture, and sell safe products. However, it does not end there. A post sale (post-sale) duty to warn of hazards, risks, accidents, incidents discovered after sale exists in some situations. Monitoring post sale risks is often called monitoring post sale performance by the legal community.

We note this post sale monitoring requirement can extend to aftermarket parts and accessory manufacturers as well.

The point of this post is that in order for a manufacture to warn customers of post sale of risks discovered after the sale, the manufacturer must monitor its products in the field, sometimes called post sale or post market surveillance to identify those risks. Read More→

16 June 2014 UPDATE – According to corrected USCG statistics propeller injuries were actually slightly down. Below we will explain how the error was identified, corrected, and why we kept this post

History of this Post

We created and posted this article on 23 May 2014 based on the then recently released U.S. Coast Guard annual Recreational Boating Statistics for 2013.

Events Leading to Discovering the Error

On June 3, 2014 we forwarded a link to the post to the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety to make sure they were aware of the spike in boat propeller injuries.

The next day, June 4, 2014 USCG responded, said they were concerned about the spike in propeller accidents and they have an ongoing project looking at trends in accidents of various types.

On June 11, 2014, a reporter asked me some questions about current annual boat propeller accident statistics. I read him the 2013 data we had recently posted on our Statistics page and told him I would send him a link to the same data as presented by the Coast Guard.

When I went to the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety web site and downloaded the 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics report and was looking for the page number to point him to the data, I noticed the data had changed. I quickly checked the copy we had downloaded previously to make sure I had not made an error in transcribing the propeller accident data, the data was definitely different.

I sent the reporter a link to the report and told him I was confused. I did not know which data set was correct, but that I would ask USCG and they would respond, but possibly not by his deadline.

That same day I sent USCG an email saying we noticed the data for the struck by boat and the data for the struck by propeller row had been swapped and asked about the changes in the data.

Monday 16 June 2014 USCG responded and said they had originally mistakenly swapped the two rows of data. The error had been corrected, and an updated version of the report was now available (the same one I “found” on 11 June.

I thanked USCG for explaining what happened and told them I totally understand how easy it would be to swap some data rows in the annual statistics report.

Why we left this post up

This error is emblematic of a much larger problem. We cannot see the data behind the annual recreational boat statistics report. Many states no longer make their data available to the Public version of BARD. We need access to that data for a multitude of reasons and will leave this post up to demonstrate this reason (we cannot confirm data in the annual report).

We posted a copy of Version 2 of USCG’s Table 17 immediately below (the corrected version). We labeled it as Version 2 in red at the top.

U.S. Coast Guard 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Table 17, version 2 (as captured 11 June 2014)

U.S. Coast Guard 2013 Recreational Boating Statistics Table 17, version 2 (as captured 11 June 2014)

You can see the rows for struck by boat and struck by propeller swapped data compared to the same table in our original post below.

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Below is our original post

NOTE – the calculations below are based on the WRONG data
(before USCG corrected the error)
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The annual 2013 U.S. Coast Guard Boating Statistics report released in May 2014 indicates a 65 percent increase in boat propeller injuries compared to 2012. Boat propeller accidents and fatalities also increased significantly.

2013 USCG recreational boat propeller accident data, as seen in the table below, reports 251 boat propeller accidents resulting in 309 injuries and 24 deaths. Read More→