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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Rex Chambers passed 15 June 2019

Rex Chambers

Rex Chambers

We are sorry to learn of the passing of Rex Chambers, well known professional bass fisherman. He spoke out about outboard motors breaking off and flipping into boats after his May 2014 accident on Lake Wheeler in Alabama. In that accident, his 250 horsepower Mercury outboard came in on him and Danny Pettus. Both men were seriously injured but survived. Rex shared his personal experiences in that accident in his his 19 May 2014 column in the Cullman Times titled, Outdoors: A Brush With Death on Lake Wheeler. His article raised awareness of the existence of these accidents.

Rex Chambers' boat with outboard motor broke off

Rex Chambers’ boat with outboard motor broke off

In more recent times, Rex Chambers took to promoting The Leash as a means to prevent these accidents.

We enjoyed following him and his career as one of the colorful, enthusiastic, great bass fishermen of today. One of Rex’s skills was the ability to write. His column and the blog for his fishing guide business were always interesting.

Reports indicate he died of a heart attack Saturday 15 June 2019 returning from the Alabama Bass Trail south division tournament on Lake Eufaula. Thanks to AON for covering his passing.

His daughter announced his passing on his Rex Chambers’ Bass Guide Service facebook page. She posted the photo below, the last photo she received.

Rex Chambers with large bass

Rex Chambers with large bass
Facebook image

We wish comfort upon his friends and family.

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Kali’s Law signed by Texas Governor: boat kill switch law

Kali Gorzell

Kali Gorzell

Greg Abbot, Governor of Texas, signed Kali’s Law on Monday June 10, 2019 per a Soundings Trade Only report dated 11 June 2019.

Named for Kali Gorzell, the law will require mandatory use of kill switch lanyards on certain vessels.

Kali’s Law will go into effect September 1st, 2019.

Kali's Law signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbot, 11 June 2019<br> image courtesy KSAT12 San Antonio

Kali’s Law signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbot, 11 June 2019
image courtesy KSAT12 San Antonio

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Kali’s Law: Misleading Fatality Statistics

Kali Gorzell

Kali Gorzell

Kali Gorzell was a beautiful, enthusiastic, young woman when she was stuck and killed by a boat propeller 20 July 2012. There was a tremendous outpouring of love from her classmates and her community near San Antonio Texas.

The boat operator was turning, the flats boat quickly “swapped ends” (spun 180 degrees), the operator was thrown from the helm, Kali was ejected and struck by the propeller. Family members suggested that if the boat operator had been wearing a kill switch lanyard, Kali may not have been struck and killed by the boat propeller.

Since then, her parents and family have promoted legislation, now referred to as Kali’s Law, requiring boat operators of certain recreational boats to attach kill switch lanyards when underway. The family’s early efforts failed, but at this moment (early June 2019), the bill has passed both houses and is on the Governor of Texas’ desk awaiting his signature.

We salute the family’s efforts and were touched by the passing of their daughter.

What is Wrong With the Statistics Being Used?

Current media coverage of the proposed rule (Kali’s Law) cites a 2009 U.S. Coast Guard study and reports that study as saying that if all boat operators were wearing kill switch lanyards, 89 percent of ALL boating fatalities would have been prevented.

Data in the Coast Guard study cited by the media actually points to about a 2.5 percent reduction in total U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) reported boating fatalities. We present those findings in detail below.

Mandatory Wear is an Emotional Issue

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

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

Family’s who have lost loved ones or had them maimed by propellers of unmanned boats in the Circle of Death want to prevent others from suffering similar injuries. They also want the establishment (Coast Guard, state legislatures, and the boating industry) to take action on the issue.

On the other hand, thousands of boaters cite their right to freedom on the water, similar to motorcycle riders objecting to wearing helmets.

As a result, mandatory wear has become a very emotionally charged issue.

Our Position on Kali’s Law

We have remained neutral on the issue of mandatory wear of kill switch lanyards, largely because the issue is so emotionally charged. Both sides have the right to be heard.

With plenty other issues on the table needing our attention, we have purposefully avoided this one (mandatory wear). We have elected to chug along encouraging the wearing of kill switch lanyards while letting others debate mandatory wear.

Our Mission & Boating Accident Statistics

One of our missions is to make sure statistical accident data put forward by the boating industry, the Coast Guard, or others is accurate. While we may not agree with the actual numbers presented, we at least try to make sure the data attributed to some resource, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, is in fact the data it is purported to be. Read More →

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The Leash: Bassmaster Tournament: ACA outboard flipped into boat accident

American Christian Academy (ACA) of Tuscaloosa Alabama’s bass fishing team was fishing the 2019 Bassmaster Southern High School Open on Lake Guntersville (Alabama).

Mercury outboard strikes submerged object

Mercury outboard with The Leash strikes submerged object

Mike Wilkins tells the story on video above of how 295 boats took off that morning. Mike, his son Hunter Williams, and another high school angler, Jackson Elder, ran out about 45 miles that morning. While coming back to a 3:30 pm weigh in at Guntersville State Park, the Mercury 250 horsepower Optimax Pro XS outboard motor struck a submerged object at about 60 miles per hour. He thinks they probably hit a stump. Mike says the outboard flipped up with the propeller being maybe one to two feet above the Power Poles. The team was running a tether. The Leash kept the outboard motor from breaking off all the way off and and flying into the boat on top of them with its propeller still running.

Hunter Wilkins and Jackson Elder of ACA High School Bass Fishing team

Hunter Wilkins and Jackson Elder of ACA High School Bass Fishing team

As Mike said, it sounded like the propeller was over the back of their heads. They quickly went from Cloud 9 after catching one last nice bass to him looking over to see if everybody was still alive after the collision in which the boat stopped abruptly and turned to the left.

The large Mercury outboard flipped up high and slammed its cowling into the rear deck.

Mike Wilkins talking about The Leash

Mike Wilkins talking about The Leash

Read More →

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Bass angler ejected: Table Rock

Skeet Reese, well known professional bass angler, shared a video on his Facebook page with some great coverage of a bass boat ejection that occurred right in front of him, and the ensuing rescue of the boat operator.

Skeet reports the accident happened shortly after takeoff of the MLF Bass Pro Tour Tournament on Table Rock Lake, Sunday 19 May 2019. Read More →

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Cioban-Leontiy v. Silverthorn – houseboat case: part 1

The Accident

About 12 people took a 4 night houseboat rental Lake Shasta (California) in the summer of 2015. The 56 foot 2001 Waterway Houseboat (Canadian manufacturer) Mirage was powered by a Volvo Penta stern drive.

Note – this is Part 1 of this post, Part 2 is our commentary on events on this page.

Silverthorn houseboat in Cioban case. photo from Defense Expert Captain Timmel's Rebuttal report

Silverthorn houseboat in Cioban case.
photo from Defense Expert Captain Timmel’s Rebuttal report

The houseboat was rented from Silverthorn Resort.

The very basics of the event on the afternoon of 30 May 2015 were:

  1. The rental houseboat was being operated from the upper deck
  2. A lady’s hat blew off
  3. Olga Cioban was on top the roof above the second desk and became aware the other lady’s hat blew off
  4. Olga Cioban went down the ladder to the lower deck and jumped in from the swim platform to retrieve the hat
  5. Meanwhile, apparently unaware someone had jumped in at the stern, the boat operator shifted the boat to reverse from the upper deck OR the boat was already moving slowly in reverse.
  6. Olga Cioban reported being pulled into the propeller
  7. Olga Cioban received severe cuts to her feet and legs
  8. Olga Cioban was taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Redding, California

Since the accident, Olga Cioban married the person operating the boat at that time, Mr. Leonity, and is now referred to in some court documents as Olga Cioban-Leontiy. Read More →

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Cioban v. Silverthorn: part 2: Our Comments

We previously covered the status of Cioban-Leontiy v. Silverthorn Resorts & Volvo Penta rental houseboat propeller injury case in PART 1.

As of 13 May 2019, negligence as described in part 2 of Plaintiff’s Second Amended Claim is the issue remaining in this case. Thus rental boat training, warnings, rental agreements, deficit safety features, rental checkout procedures, how many people went through the training session, and stressing the importance of maintaining a lookout are among the issues remaining to be argued by both sides.

This post covers our thoughts as we viewed the documents and status of the case on PACER along with some media reports of the accident. Our thoughts are mostly about how the history and documents surrounding previous rental houseboat propeller injury issues and cases relate to this case. Read More →

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Circle of Death Video: ReelJedi

YouTube fishing channel, ReelJedi, was filming on Lake Seminole (Georgia / Florida border) when a nearby boater running at speed in a Bass Tracker boat was ejected. The Bass Tracker powered by a Mercury Marine outboard motor went into the Circle of Death, then ReelJedi and his father rescued him.

ReelJedi speculates the boat hit a stump just below the surface causing the man to be ejected.

After the ejected man was safety on board and they escaped the dangerous area near the unmanned circling boat and called 911 for help. Authorities eventually said they were 30 to 40 minutes away. The boat continued to circle with a full tank of gas. The boat was gradually blowing toward a boat dock. If the boat were to strike the boat dock at speed, the boat would likely be severely damaged. They came up with a plan to throw a rope into the path of the propeller.

Eventually the Bass Tracker boat hung up near shore in shallow water, and the owner was able to board the boat and shut it off.

Read More →

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Ryan’s Law & Federal Preemption- part 1

Ryan’s Law, is a proposed law in the State of New York requiring propeller guards on vessels used to instruct children under the age of 18.

In October 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council met and basically said Ryan’s Law is preempted by federal regulations and will be struck down.

The phrase “Federal Preemption” sometimes spelled “Federal Pre-emption” is probably best known in the boating industry as defense used by the industry against propeller guard cases prior to the Sprietsma decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2002.

As we understand it, NBSAC is in error, federal preemption does not apply to Ryan’s Law.

This two part post will explain the history, background, and recent events surrounding this issue. Read More →

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Ryan’s Law & Federal Preemption- part 2

This post is a continuation of Part 1 of our post on federal preemption of Ryan’s Law, a law requiring propeller guards on vessels involved in instructing children under 18 years old.

click to view PDF document

NBSAC 100 Minutes
Ryan’s Law preemption excerpts

Our previous post cited several instances in the U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Council (NBSAC) 100th meeting (NBSAC100) minutes in which NBSAC said Ryan’s Law is not valid due federal preemption. Federal preemption was also further described in part 1.

In part 1 we reviewed the excepts from NBSAC100 minutes in the PDF document at right.

This post will refute NBSAC’s statements that Ryan’s Law is not valid due to federal preemption.

Please note I am not a lawyer AND not a government regulator. However, the document cited will be authoritative, and crystal clear in its statements on this issue. Read More →

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