Propeller Safety Year in Review 2020

A brief review of the major propeller safety events in 2020 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 2020 follows:

2020 has been a very unique year, the year of the COVID-19 virus. At first many thought boating might slow to a standstill, but as individuals found boating to be a safe escape with their family and many were working remotely, boating participation significantly increased. Sales of new power boats exploded. Stand up paddle boards, kayaks and canoes also continued to gain in popularity. Many lakes reported high boat traffic levels. We suspect this will lead to increased accident counts for 2020.

We spent much of this year working on two projects, our nine U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) training videos released in August and a paper that will likely be released in 2021.

We anticipate the Florida Sailing accident claiming the life of young Ethan Isaacs will be looked back upon as one of the turning points in the national demand for propeller guards on youth training vessels.

20 January 2020 – Mercury Marine announced their 1st Mate virtual lanyard based on Fell Marine technologies. At least two more Brunswick patent applications in this area were published in 2020, along with the award of U.S. Patent 10,730,600 Lanyard System and Method for a Marine Vessel.

30 January 2020 – Brunswick’s patent application for a wireless lanyard based on Fell Marine technologies was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

14 February 2020 – Sharrow Propeller won an innovation award at the Miami International Boat Show. It remains to be seen if this radically new propeller design will impact propeller safety one way or the other.

9 June 2020 – The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) released their annual boating statistics report. 171 propeller accidents resulting in 155 injuries and 35 fatalities were reported in the Coast Guard’s 2019 BARD database.

13 August 2020 – We released a series of 9 BARD training videos encouraging boat builders to Post Sale Monitor the safety of their vessels, respond to safety issues, and engage in continuous improvement of their boats.

17 August 2020 – the 67th anniversary of Boni Buehler’s propeller accident, likely the highest profile boat propeller accident in history. She passed away back in 2015.

November 2020 – We announced the discovery of two 1992 Japanese Patents by Suzuki in which they tried to address the problem of outboard motors breaking off when striking submerged objects.

7 November 2020 – We published a supplement to our list of ways to prevent outboard motors from breaking off and flipping into boats when striking submerged objects.

21 November 2020 – young Ethan Isaacs was killed while learning how to sail at a sailing facility in Florida. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, we suggest history will find this to be one of the more significant propeller accidents of 2020.

The National Boating Safety Advisory Council went virtual this year as did many organizations. They held three virtual meetings and now await being rechartered by the Government before further proceeding.

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