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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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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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Christopher D'Amico

Christopher D’Amico

“Christopher’s Law”, named for Christopher D’Amico from Mount Arlington, New Jersey was signed into New Jersey law on Tuesday 19 January 2016. Ten year old Christopher was fatally struck by a 20 foot rental pontoon boat on Lake Hopatcong 24 June 2015.

While details are a little sketchy, it looks like young Christopher probably fell from the bow of a rented pontoon boat, as have many children, and was struck in the head by the propeller.

Governor Chris Christie signed bill S-3233 into law. It was sponsored by Anthony Bucco, Gail Phoebus, and Nancy Munoz. The new law requires those renting pontoon boats to complete safety instruction training before taking out the boat. Business renting pontoon boats must now prominently post a large metallic propeller warning sign near the entrance to their rental area. 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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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→

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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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