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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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Holiday Inn in Ballston in Arlington Virginia

Holiday Inn in Ballston in Arlington Virginia

U.S. Coast Guard’s National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) held their 97th meeting in Arlington Virginia Thursday 23 March – Saturday 25 March 2017.

The meeting was held in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn in Ballston in Arlington.

The meeting room was setup with tables forming a horseshoe at the front of the room, with the open end of the horseshoe facing the public seating area. Each Council member had their own microphone. A microphone stand in front of the public area was used for public comment.

NBSAC97 room layout. See the horseshoe arrangement of tables at front (toward the projection screen) for the Council. Public sits in the back.

NBSAC97 room layout. See the horseshoe arrangement of tables at front (toward the projection screen) for the Council. Public sits in the back.


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U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) 87th meeting in Arlington Virginia March 23-25, 2017. Part 2 of our coverage.

Thursday Early Afternoon 25 March 2017.

Subcommittee Meetings

Much of the work of NBSAC occurs in the three subcommittees:

1. Boats & Associated Equipment Subcommittee
2. Prevention Through People Subcommittee
3. Strategic Planning Subcommittee

Each Subcommittee presented some topics Thursday afternoon.


Boats & Associated Equipment Subcommittee

Pete Chisholm of Mercury Marine chairs this subcommittee.


Visual Distress Signals

Marty Jackson of USCG presented on Visual Distress Signals.

Traditionally boaters carried flares for visual distress signals. Some LED lights are now bright enough to meet nighttime use requirements. The current lights do not work well in daylight.

The technical criteria they have been looking at does not include affordability or durability.

They are considering flashing them at 4 Hertz (4 times per second) or flashing them to sent “S-O-S” in Morse code.

There was considerable discussion about some LED products currently on the market claiming to be USCG approved.

Besides convenience, an LED light that COULD also work in daylight could eliminate the need for flares. It would also eliminate the need to track flare expiration dates and properly dispose of them.


Life Jackets

Jackie Yurkovich of USCG gave an update on the transition to new life jacket approval standards.

Basically they are trying to harmonize U.S. life jacket standards with Canada AND Canada’s standard is much closer to the international standard.

By bringing the standards together (harmonizing them), those building life jackets will no longer have to build special life jackets for each country.
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U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) 87th meeting in Arlington Virginia March 23-25, 2017. Part 3 of our coverage.

Thursday Late Afternoon 25 March 2017.
Boats & Associated Equipment Subcommittee continued

Recent Propeller Injuries & Discussion of Potential Mitigation Strategies

Brian Goodwin of ABYC at NBSAC97

Brian Goodwin of ABYC at NBSAC97

by Phil Cappel Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety and Brian Goodwin of ABYC (John Adey of ABYC was previously listed in error)
Brian Goodwin gave the presentation.

PropellerSafety.com note – this presentation was a followup presentation on the discussion at NBSAC96 about pontoon boat bow riding propeller injuries. Prior to NBSAC96 we sent the Coast Guard a link to our post about a cluster 6 pontoon boat bow riding accidents in 8 days in the summer of 2016. As a result of those accidents they began to look into the issue. In NBSAC96 they announced a study of pontoon boat accident data would be undertaken.

When we were here in the Fall we heard about a rash of accidents that were happening on pontoon boats and what was looked at was bow riding. As a result a Resolution 2016-96-04 was passed.

As a result, USCG reached out to ABYC and that project is what he will be talking about.

The resolution called for:
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U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) 87th meeting in Arlington Virginia March 23-25, 2017. Part 4 of our coverage.

Friday 25 March 2017.
Prevention Through People Subcommittee

Rich Jepsen at NBSAC97

Rich Jepsen at NBSAC97

Rich Jepson opened the Prevention Though People segment.

He expressed his thanks to Jeff Ludwig, Jeff Hoedt, and Captain Boross.

Streamlining On-Water Instructor Licensing
by Rich Jepson

He presented and there was an engaging conversation about on water boater safety training, sometimes called skills training. Several groups are beginning to or would like to offer on the water boating safety training for boat operators. Existing regulations consider that act carriage for hire, resulting in the person providing the training needing to have higher level commercial vessel operator licenses, a significant number of hours on the sea, a medical physical (somewhat like a pilot), and pass a drug test. These requirements can cost a few thousand dollars and take a lot of time.

Another possible route has been found. A Limited Operator (LOUPV) category might be used by those providing training.
LOUPV = Limited Operator Uninspected Passenger Vessel license.

The Limited Operator licenses must be established and worked out locally. Various local restrictions can be placed upon them such as daylight only, stay out of the sea lanes, stay close to shore, Spring and Summer only, or whatever the local officers deem appropriate.

Mr. Jepson proposes NBSAC work with USCG headquarters to create a guide to help those wishing to provide these services be able to navigate the challenges of obtaining a license to do so.

Captain Gifford asked about age requirements for LOUPV, you must be 18 of older. Several offering on water safety training are though to be under 18.

There was considerable discussion of current regulatory challenges resulting in the inability to create some new category or add a subset within an existing regulation to make what they wanted possible.
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U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) 87th meeting in Arlington Virginia March 23-25, 2017. Part 5 of our coverage.

Saturday 26 March 2017.

The last day is typically reserved for the three subcommittees (Boats and Boat Equipment, Prevention Through People, and Strategic Planning) presenting resolutions, the discussion and formalization of those resolutions, and voting on them.

With no resolutions this year, beyond those recognizing those retiring, it was mostly comments on the three topics, planning for the future, and some informational presentations.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Accident Statistics
by Pam Doty of USACE

Pam Doty of USACE presenting at NBSAC97

Pam Doty of USACE presenting at NBSAC97

ACE owns a number of lakes and record accidents at those facilities, not all of which occur on the water.

USACE might be able to move the needle in ways USCG has not been able to on life jacket wear.

Several years ago they required life jacket wear on a part of Mississippi. They previously counted lake traffic there and on surrounding lakes. Traffic did not decrease on mandatory wear lakes, it actually increased. Wear rate is still higher there years later. She hopes to do some counting there this year.

Wear rate went up to about 80 percent.

Officers just enforced the law (mandatory wear) when they encountered people. They gave out warnings and tickets. The word got out and coffee shop chat spread the word.
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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.


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Faith Kalei-Imaizumi

Faith Kalei-Imaizumi

Faith Kalei-Imaizumi was participating in the Pailolo Challenge canoe race, a 26 mile race downwind from Maui to Molokai on Saturday 17 September 2016. During the race, escort boats bring out fresh crew members in exchange for tired crew members. Faith was in an escort boat. Her hat fell into the water, she dove in retrieve it. While the accident is being investigated, some think the escort boat reversed to prevent striking another escort boat and she was struck by the propeller. Faith was severely struck in the thighs and groin. She was taken to shore at D.T. Flemming Beach Park in Kapalua where CPR was performed by first responders, life flighted to Maui Memorial Medical Center, then taken to Queens Hospital on Oahu. A GoFundMe page has been established to assist with expenses.

Pailolo Challenge Outrigger Canoe Race

Pailolo Challenge Outrigger Canoe Race

Faith’s accident comes on the heels of the stalling of a proposal to require propeller guards. The proposal was named House Bill 2024.

House Bill 2024 was put forth in the wake of the Sri Shim propeller fatality, in which his stepson, Trey Albrecht, was also injured by the propeller. Read More→

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Live Like Kali stampTexas flats boats also called bay boats have been found unsafe by a United States Coast Guard Contractor. Bay boats / flats boats are relatively flat bottomed for shallow water operation.

In July 2012, Kali Gorzel, a 16 year old girl loved by hundreds, fell from a bay boat off Port Aransas Texas when the operator lost control in a relatively slow speed turn and the boat spun, she fell overboard, and was fatally struck by the propeller.

In the wake of the Kali Gorzell accident, her parents began to hear of other similar accidents, bay boats spinning out of control.

Similar accidents included Michael Dominguez (a 6th grader from San Antonio, Texas) and the fatal accident of Janis Lindeman of Blanco, Texas.

Kali Gorzell’s parents found an interested partner in Cody Jones, Assistant Commander with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TXPWD). He was interested in part because a game warden had been tossed from a similar boat. Read More→

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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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