PropellerSafety.com

Yamaha Possible Coverup of Propeller Guard Documents Exposed

Yamaha Prop Guard Statements

Yamaha Prop Guard Statements

In March 2012 Yamaha announced a new stainless steel propeller guard for outboards on flood rescue boats in the UK and made several statements about how great it was, how well it performed, and even how prop guards were necessary when people were in the water near the boat. About October we became aware of Yamaha’s new propeller guard. In mid October we began posting some materials about it and some of Yamaha’s own statements about their guard.

The boating industry has long defended itself in propeller injury court cases by claiming propeller guards don’t work. Among their objections, the industry claims guards create too much drag, reduce performance (top speed), effect the handling of the boat, are not durable enough, get bent into the propeller, and they create blunt trauma injuries when they strike people.

But Yamaha was making the exact opposite statements about their propeller guard. Yamaha said their guard worked great, minimized drag and performance reduction, improved handling, was strong and durable for use in shallow water, and guards were essential for operating rescue boats near people in the water.

Our mid October 2012 posts echoed several of Yamaha’s own comments.

By early November 2012, everything Yamaha ever said about the propeller guard AND all records of the guard’s existence vanished from their website. We made many attempts to contact Yamaha about why they pulled all of their materials about the propeller guard, but they will not respond. That leaves us to suspect Yamaha erased their statements to protect the boating industry’s long standing legal defense, “Guards don’t work”.

Among the many specific statements made and deleted by Yamaha about their propeller guard were: Read More →

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Research Projects for Senior Design Classes, Masters Thesis Projects, Industrial Design & Other Researchers

Most college students in engineering and design take one or more design project classes, often a Senior Capstone Design Projects Class, in which they work individually or as teams to develop solutions to problems. We are trying to tap this resource and encourage students to consider selecting design projects related to propeller safety. More student design projects would help grow the body of knowledge available to the industry and to boaters. In addition to engineering and design students, we also welcome those from all fields and encourage them to consider projects in this area for their capstone classes. If you or others are interested in a college design class project or capstone project in propeller safety, propeller injury avoidance devices, or related fields, please view the projects listed below and contact us for additional assistance.

Propeller Guard

Propeller Guard

A few Masters and Doctoral students have written thesis and dissertations in this field. We strongly encourage Masters and Doctoral students looking for thesis and dissertation topics to contact us and discuss some of the possibilities available in their specific field of interest, as well as those looking for topics for scientific and technical papers.

We list of several possible boating propeller safety research projects below and will be posting more over time. Read More →

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Sharrow Propeller wins Innovation Award

Sharrow Propeller image courtesy BoatTest

Sharrow Propeller

The new Sharrow Propeller won the Innovation Award for Propulsion Equipment & Parts at the 2020 Miami International Boat Show February 14, 2020.

7 Boating Writers International (BWI) members served as the Innovation Award judges committee.

NMMA reported Ed Sherman, one of the judges, said of the Sharrow MX1 propeller “This is a breakthrough prop design that promises lower vibration, increased efficiency and could truly change the industry.”

A Sharrow Propeller press release on Business Wire said they received the award “due to its revolutionary new design and the performance and fuel efficiency gains it is bringing to the market.”

The press release stated, “Receiving this award is such a huge honor,” said Greg Sharrow, founder and CEO of Sharrow Marine. “As we’ve gone through the R&D and testing process, we felt we had created something really revolutionary for the industry, but being recognized this way so early in the product’s life cycle is such a huge honor.”

The propeller is currently available in aluminum and stainless steel versions for most outboards and stern drives from 100-450 horsepower.

We previously covered the testing of the Sharrow Propeller by BoatTest.

While the Sharrow Propeller appears to be a revolutionary design with amazing potential, it has yet to be designed for manufacture at a competitive cost. With propellers costing a few to several thousand dollars it is definitely not a mainstream product at this time.

We congratulate Sharrow and commend them for bringing this product to market. We hope that Sharrow in conjunction with the boating industry and others can develop more economical ways of bringing as many of these advantages as possible to a broader audience.

We also invite Sharrow to visit with us if they are interested in discussing propeller safety related topics that might be applicable to their product.


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Brunswick wireless lanyard patent application

Attwood Marine Products universal (7 key) boat lanyard / kill cord

Attwood Marine Products conventional lanyard

Brunswick’s wireless lanyard patent application was published 30 January 2020 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Brunswick’s wireless lanyard is made possible by the combination CANbus systems now used by boats and marine drives in conjunction with data available from the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and today’s digital controls (like digital shift/throttles).

Brunswick’s patent application describes a wireless lanyard that operates automatically. It does not require being turned off or on. The system checks to see if the operator is within a certain range (like within so many feet) of the helm depending on conditions such as is the boat in gear or out of gear, how fast is the boat going, etc. The operator is allowed to range further when the boat is out of gear or moving slowly than when underway at speed. Read More →

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Propeller Safety Year in Review 2019

A brief review of the major propeller safety events in 2019 including safety meetings, accidents, legal cases, deaths of those involved in the movement, statistics, patents, articles published, public service announcements, anniversaries, regulations, and other related events.

A listing of some significant propeller safety events in 2019 follows:

January 2019 – Ryan’s Law filed in State of New York requiring propeller guards on boats used for instructing youth.

26 February 2019 Mercury Marine patents system to monitor marine drive log strikes.

27 February 2019 – we published our Why Outboards Break Off Bass Boats paper

2 March 2019 we published our invention based on a crowdsourced system to monitor recent historical log strike locations which feeds back to display impact locations to those on the water allowing them to choose to avoid risky areas or to take additional precautions in those areas.

11 May 2019 we reported on the Cioban-Leontiy v. Silverthorn house boat propeller case making its way through the court system.

May 2019 Mike Wilkins adult sponsor of the American Christian Academy high school bass fishing team tells the story on video of their team striking a submerged object while running the leash. This is a very compelling video.

10 June 2019 Kali’s Law signed by Governor of Texas requiring mandatory wear of kill switches on some vessels. The bill was named for Kali Gorzell.

Rex Chambers

Rex Chambers

17 June 2019 Rex Chambers died. Rex, a well known professional bass fisherman, was also known for promoting The Leash after an earlier accident in which an outboard motor entered his boat.

28 June 2019 70th anniversary of a 28 June 1949 New York Times report of a young 13 year old girl, Imogene Wittche, swimming in Lake Tahoe, loosing both her feet to a boat propeller, now in a hospital thinking both her feet are still attached and she will be up and going in a few weeks. Her father is grieving over how to tell her that her feet are gone.

1 August USCG National Boating Safety Advisory Committee was told that their charter had expired. A new charter is being routed for approval. There will be no October 2019 meeting and their best estimate of the next meeting will be in the Fall of 2020.

6 August 2019 Brunswick patents neural network system to detect people near vessels.

26 August 2019 USCG released their annual boat accident statistics later this year than normal. They reported 177 propeller accidents resulting in 177 injuries and 25 fatalities.

6 September 2019 Kevin Rivera-Cornejo was killed by rental houseboat propeller on Shasta Lake.

Sharrow Propeller image courtesy BoatTest

Sharrow Propeller

14 October 2019 Boat Test reviewed the Sharrow propeller, a new design that shows tremendous promise in terms of efficiency, fuel consumption, acceleration, and top speeds. The review generated considerable attention. Any impact of the new design on propeller safety remains to be seen.

25 November 2019 Carter Viss, 25 year old marine biologist, lost his arm to a boat propeller in Florida.


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Judge rejects Jones Act defense in Duck Boat Case

For decades the boating industry has been raising what we call the Jones Act Defense against plaintiffs on large lakes and waterways, especially those through which one could theoretically pass to another state.

Back in 1851 the U.S. Government adopted the “1851 Shipowners Limitation of Liability Act” to encourage shipping by limiting the potential liability of a merchant vessel to the value of the ship plus its contents. Thus if the merchant vessel was involved in some sort of collision, a large multi vessel fire, knock down a bridge resulting in multiple fatalities (like happened here in Oklahoma a few years back), strike a public walkway (like the Riverwalk in New Orleans several years ago), or other catastrophe on a navigable waterway its owners could only be sued for the value of the vessel plus its contents. Many states add qualifiers that the vessel must not have been operated in a negligent manner to receive such protection.

The 1851 Shipowners Limitation of Liability Act also protected ship owners in the event their vessel sunk or caused some other vessel to sink in an important shallow channel and required great expense to remove it so shipping could proceed.

The definition of navigable waterways is open to interpretation, but generally understood to be waterways carrying cargo/commerce/passengers from one state to another.

Back on July 9, 2018 a DUCK boat tour boat sunk in rough water and winds on Table Rock Lake near Branson Missouri claiming 17 lives.

DUCK boat being raised Branson Missouri image courtesy 4029TV

DUCK boat being raised Branson Missouri image courtesy 4029TV

Read More →

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Arm Chopped Off by boat propeller: Carter Viss

Thanksgiving (Thursday 28 November 2019) Carter Viss 25 year old marine biologist from Palm Beach, Florida was snorkeling with some friends with a dive flag off Palm Beach. A 2008, 36 foot Yellowfin high performance boat operated by 30 year-old Daniel Stanton was coming into the area about 200 feet off shore. Stanton saw the dive flag and throttled down the engines. When Viss was pulled from the water he had suffered multiple serious injuries and was short an arm. His right arm had been amputated by the boat propeller. According to toofab.com a lady on site described it as “a very catastrophic scene.”

Carter Viss accident  Daily Mail image

Carter Viss boat propeller accident
Daily Mail image

Later, Carter Viss’ arm was spotted in the water, the Coast Guard retrieved the arm but it was too late.

Doctors, nurses, surgeons, and others now focus on trying to keep infection out of his wounds.

Yellowfin 36

Yellowfin 36
image captured from client video link supplied to Yellowfin website

Some reports indicate there were children on the Yellowfin boat when Viss was struck near the Breakers Hotel. Viss was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center.

Several divers were said to have been in the water at the time of the accident.

As a marine biologist, Carter Viss worked for Loggerhead Marine Life Center (turtle rescue facility in Juno Beach) and Atlantic Blue Aquariums in Lake Park, Florida.

Viss at Aquarium

Carter Viss at the aquarium
image from Instagram

Accident Responders included: Palm Beach Fire Rescue, Palm Beach Police, United States Coast Guard, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

WPTV reported a fireman went out on a paddle board to recover the arm once it had been spotted. The arm was not reattached,

In addition to the amputation, Carter Viss was reported to have broken his left wrist, and received severe injuries to both legs.

viss spear fishing

Carter Viss spear fishing
image from Instagram

Words used by media outlets to describe the accident included: gruesome (New York Post) and grotesque (Headlinez Pro).

We wish Carter Viss, his family, and loved ones peace, comfort, and joy in the small things as they navigate the challenging roads ahead.

A big thanks to several media outlets for covering this accident including Daily Mail, TooFab, New York Post, WPTV, TheMediaHQ, NBC, Palm Beach Post, and more. We heavily borrowed from their coverage to create this post, and thanks to Instagram for the images.

After we posted this coverage, Daily Mail in the UK posted tremendous coverage of the accident including many photos taken at the accident scene including the one at the top of this post. A special thanks to the Daily Mail for their great coverage of this accident.

Updates

5 December 2019 Update

From Palm Beach Post article dated 4 December 2019 – the operator of “Tally Girl”, the boat that struck Carter Viss, Daniel Stanton was from a wealthy family. His father Daniel W. Stanton owned the boat. Carter’s dog, Iggy, was allowed into ICU to visit Carter and lick the fingers of the arm he still has. The boat was powered by 3 outboard engines. It is no longer clear if the operator saw the dive flag or not before striking Carter or not. The boat actually struck the dive flag. Christine Raininger was on paddle board nearby. She used a bunge cord as a tourniquet on what was left of Carter’s arm. She reported, “The dive flag was literally tied up in the propeller when he came in to shore.”


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Dennehey: Another Catamaran propeller accident

Shane Dennehy was on a college spring break trip organized by StudentCity in the Dominican Republic on March 2019 at Punta Canna.

Student City organized a “booze cruise” on a catamaran named “Escandaloso”

Shane Dennehy is now (November 2019) a junior at State University of New York in Binghamton, New York.

Shane and his parents have sued StudentCity for $25 million dollars following his 20 March 2019 propeller accident.

They allege the Escanaloso was not on the list of previously vetted and approved vessels and no StudentCity employees were onboard.

When the boat was close to shore Shane went down a slide from the second deck. He entered the water between the two engines. He grabbed the edge of one of the motors to steady himself moments before the captain started the engines.

He became entrapped on the propeller. They had to remove the boat propeller to free him.

Catamaran with slide

Note we have NO reason to believe this is the particular boat
it just an example of similar vessels in the area

In the image above and in similar images of other Punta Canna party catamarans, the pile of red things at the back of the vessels is life jackets.

The lawsuit alleges students and bystanders tended to him and got him to shore on a private boat, then carried him to a taxi which took him to a hospital.

The suit alleges many shortcomings in the level of care provided by StudentCity including negligence in several acts.

We have seen this played out several times before in propeller accidents in third world water tourism areas.

We have no specific knowledge of this specific accident beyond what we read in the press. However, we have seen similar claims from many families in the past including several involving catamarans. Several sail cat accidents are listed in our post titled, Casey Schulman Was Not the First: Catamaran Dive, Snorkel, & Party Boat Propeller Accidents.

From some online searching we suspect the catamaran in this accident was a powerboat. Several powered catamarans with upper deck slides operate party boats / booze cruises in Punta Canna.

Many more are listed on our page titled, Tourists Being Struck and Killed by Boat Propellers in Diving / Snorkeling Areas.

Most of the coverage of the Dennehy accident in the post above was gleaned from a 4 November 2019 story by Salem News titled, Peabody travel firm hit with $25M suit over spring break injury. We thank Salem News for their coverage of this accident.


What a Difference a Year Makes

StudentCity’s website currently announces they will no longer be providing spring break tours for 2020.

StudentCity website November 2019 after the March 2019 propeller accident

StudentCity website as of November 2019

While back in 2018 things were much racier. We limited the post below to tamer portions of their home page.

StudentCity website in 2018

StudentCity website in 2018


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Sharrow Propeller receives rave review from BoatTest

Sharrow Propeller is one of many propeller developments we have followed over the years. The loudest ones sometimes turn out to be all hype focused on luring investors into an unproven technology with some big names associated with it. A few have staying power. It sounds like Sharrow Propeller may be the latter.

Sharrow Propeller image courtesy BoatTest

Sharrow Propeller

BoatTest.com a trusted industry source for boat performance test data, published a reviewed the Sharrow propeller in BoatTest’s 14 October 2019 newsletter. As far as technology and performance goes the Sharrow propeller received a rave review.

BoatTest.com Review of Sharrow Propeller

BoatTest spent 7 days testing this propeller.

The specific Sharrow propeller tested was called the Sharrow Propeller MX-1 that had been 5-axis router cut from a relatively soft billet of aluminum alloy per BoatTest.

BoatTest tested the Sharrow propeller on a 3500 pound bowrider vs a 14-3/4 inch diameter 15 inch pitch three blade stainless steel propeller they say is an industry favorite. They also tested it against a premium 15 inch diameter 15 inch pitch three blade stainless steel propeller that could plane at lower RPM than the first propeller.

Test crews noted reduced vibration with the Sharrow and easier handling. They noted the boat seems more tightly connected to the water because it basically has six blades grabbing the water.

The Sharrow generally went faster than the other props, reduced slip, improved gas mileage, got on plane faster and at a lower RPM, and had a faster top speed. The test crew was used to some propellers performing better at slower speeds or at higher speeds, but labeled the Sharrows better performance on both ends as “a remarkable result.” The Sharrow also reduced noise and vibrations while improving handling in reverse. BoatTests’ list of 12 positive conclusions is indeed remarkable.

BoatTest noted that Sharrow was actually disadvantaged in the test by them using an aluminum propeller vs the stainless steel propellers they competed against.

BoatTest posted a 14-1/2 minute video of their review on YouTube

Sharrow says they intend to officially debut the propeller at the 2020 Miami Boat Show.

BoatTest went to great lengths to explain how fair and accurately they tried to record data during this review and the considerable efforts they took in doing so. The Sharrow’s results almost sound like a test report dated April Fools Day. But, banking on the proven history of BoatTest we suspect the results are true.

Sharrow is currently using 5-axis cutters to mill away everything that does not look like the propeller out of a large block of aluminum to make prototypes and suggests that may eventually be the mode of manufacture.

Sharrow Propeller production image courtesy BoatTest

BoatTests article shows them using casting patterns cut from 3D printed wax, but their 3D printing capabilities are not at the stage to scale to production volumes.

PropellerSafety comments

We are thrilled to see a new propeller design finally receive rave reviews from a trusted testing source.

We are excited, wish Sharrow Propeller the best, and congratulate them on the performance they have achieved.

While that is wonderful and exciting, we can pretty much guarantee it will not all be clear sailing ahead.

Major obstacles in addition to funding include determining how to manufacture the propeller as economically as possible while maintaining the quality needed. As per the image above, some are currently made by hogging them out of large blocks of aluminum, a very costly method.

In our previous writings about the recreational boat propeller market we have noted the challenges of developing tooling required for manufacturing a wide range of diameter and pitch propellers that are individually targeted for certain types of applications (different rakes, cupped, etc) with 3 or 4 blades. Plus do not forget the need to make them available in both aluminum and stainless steel. Most propeller manufacturers now use a hub with inserts that can be adjusted to the many combinations needed to attach to drives from different manufacturers, sizes, and model years.

Sharrow’s ribbon shaped blades almost look like mobius strips. Pouring aluminum or stainless steel in these shapes and totally avoiding voids and imperfections could be challenging.

Sharrow’s design makes one wonder if one of Mercury Marine’s various lost foam casting methods might work?

Another question is propeller repair. Aluminum propellers are known for their ability to be repaired relatively economically with tooling already in the hands of countless prop shops. Stainless steel props are thinner and tend to be more challenging to properly repair after a substantial impact with a log, rock, concrete boat ramp, etc.

Where will the Shallow fall on that continuum? The ribbon blades look like they might be easily damaged and hard to repair. Meaning propeller life may not be as long as normal aluminum propellers.

Does the Sharrow wind up loose ropes and lines like a normal propeller?

We note Sharrow has their eye on much larger vessels on up to Super Tankers as possible customers benefiting from reduced fuel consumption. If they could be wildly successful on larger vessels their cash flow could fund more investment in recreational vessel propeller development and manufacturing.

Wonder what Sharrow’s goals are? Did they enter this market hoping to be acquired? Do they really plan to develop a facility and all the technologies required to manufacture these propellers in production quantities for all sizes of vessels? Or do they plan on licensing the technology to players in the different propeller markets (recreational vessels, yachts, passenger vessels, larger vessels, huge vessels, military vessels, etc)?

How About Propeller Accidents

The Sharrow Propeller looks vastly different than typical propellers. We have no idea how it performs in terms of possibly showing people out of the area between the blades like the Australian Safety Propeller did OR what its entrapment performance might be, Is it more likely, less likely, or the same to entrap human limbs and appendages, clothing, and/or ropes than a normal propeller?

Is the stronger grip of Sharrow propeller on the water more likely to pull people behind the vessel into the propeller? More likely to pull in those who fell from skis, boards or inflatables when you go back around to pick them up?

Seems like it is time to start running over stuff. Propeller guard manufacturers have long been known for running over all kinds of stuff to test their guards: large squash, cabbage, water melons, dead goats, blown up dolls, wild boars, barrels with hide on them, and many other items. It would be interesting to see the Sharrow propeller runover some of these objects to see how both it and the object look after impact.

It might also be interesting to run the U.S. Coast Guard propeller guard test protocol with an open Sharrow Propeller in comparison to a traditional propeller.

Again we have no concept whether the Sharrow is better, worse, or the same in comparison to normal propellers from a propeller safety standpoint. We just suggest that its performance should be evaluated before it was widely accepted on recreational boats, especially on recreational boat applications known to be more frequently involved in propeller accidents.

Congratulations and Thanks

A big thanks to BoatTest.com for running this test and taking such care to make sure the evaluation was honest, fair, and accurate.

Plus Congratulations again to Sharrow Propeller for having such a tremendous design. We wish them the best in the marketplace.


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The Leash awarded 2nd U.S. Patent

The Leash was awarded U.S. Patent 10,435,128 “Outboard Motor Tether” on October 8, 2019. This new patent enhances their patent portfolio increasing their level of patent protection beyond their earlier patent, U.S. Patent 9,771,136.

The Leash, a tether to prevent outboard motors from breaking off and flipping into boats, continues to be a popular accessory on bass boats and especially on tournament bass boats.

The Leash on Chris Lane's boat during 2016 Bassmaster Classic photo is an edited version of Bassmaster's Bling Gallery image #24

The Leash on Chris Lane’s boat during 2016 Bassmaster Classic
photo is an edited version of Bassmaster’s Bling Gallery image #24

Read More →

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Kevin Rivera-Cornejo killed by rental houseboat propeller on Shasta Lake

Kevin Rivera-Cornejo, 23 of San Jose California, was on the swim deck of a rental houseboat at Corey Cove on Shasta Lake in California about 4:30pm Friday 6 September 2019.

His father, Hector Rivera, was at the controls beaching / mooring the houseboat. Onboard were family and friends.

Kevin either jumped in or fell into the water when the houseboat was being reversed.

houseboat marina on Shasta Lake in 2006

a houseboat marina on Shasta Lake back in 2006

Initial reports say Kevin screamed and his father stopped the boat. Kevin Rivera-Cornejo “sustained fatal propeller cuts to his lower extremities” per KRCR News. Read More →

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USCG releases Recreational Boating Statistics 2018

USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2018

USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2018

U.S. Coast Guard released their annual 2018 recreational boating accident statistics report on 26 August 2019.

Total counts for 2018 Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) reported accidents, injuries, and fatalities were down compared to 2017.

2018 USCG BARD reported accident statistics were 4145 accidents, 2,511 injuries, and 633 fatalities.

2017 USCG stats were 4,291 accidents, 2629 injuries, and 658 fatalities.

For 2018 USCG reported 177 propeller accidents, 177 injuries, and 25 fatalities.

2017 USCG stats were 172 propeller accidents, 162 propeller injuries, and 31 fatalities.

Thanks to all those at USCG whose efforts helped make this annual statistical report of boating accidents possible.

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, those spreading boating safety messages, 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.


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