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 →

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 →

Reduce Peak Impact Force of Boat Propeller Guards

This Tech Brief explains a method that may reduce maximum impact force of some boat propeller guards striking people.

This method may also:

  1. Reduce injuries caused by striking some boat propeller guards at lower speeds.
  2. Allow some propeller guards to be operated at higher speeds while causing less severe injuries to people in the water.

Propeller Safety Tech Brief #1

Note this material is NOT professional advice.

It is meant to stimulate discussion & encourage further development
of this potential approach.

Brief Description of Method

This approach uses two-stage hydraulic tilt cylinders to reduce peak impact forces between boat propeller guards and people in the water.

Outboard motor trim and tilt graphic

Outboard motor trim and tilt graphic
Derived from a Yamaha graphic

An example of how an outboard motor trims, then can be tilted up for trailering.

Outboard motors with hydraulic tilt and trim (many outboards of forty horsepower or more) use a hydraulic cylinder to raise and lower the outboard.

The tilt up for trailering segment is also used when an outboard motor with power tilt & trim strikes a rock. The outboard motor strikes a large log, it tilts up while its energy is dissipated by relief valves in the tilt cylinder. Use of a two stage cylinder instead of a traditional tilt cylinder allows the outboard motor to flip up and over the object with minimal resistance. Then the two stage tilt cylinder begins to cushion the upward swing of the outboard. As a result there is a significantly softer impact with the log.

Objections to Propeller Guards Based on Blunt Trauma

Page 20 of the 1989 U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) propeller guard subcommittee report states, “Proponents assert that propeller guard technology and/or availability meets the foregoing criteria and that guards should be mandated. The subcommittee does not agree and offers the following comments:”

    … “Masks with wide mesh or spaced bars and ring guards may prevent cuts from body contact with a propeller but substitute the potential of blunt trauma injury, which becomes increasingly significant at speeds over 10 mph, leading to an ascending serious risk of fatality as speeds increase.”

The boating industry has long stated blunt trauma is a major reason for limiting boat propeller guards to a certain maximum speed such as 2, 5, 10, or 15 miles per hour.

1989 U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) Propeller Guard Subcommittee Report

Blunt trauma issues were not proven by the 1989 NBSAC report. However, it is apparent that being struck by a propeller guard at speed is bad. Even without a propeller guard, if a person strikes the the outboard motor and somehow avoids being struck by the propeller, they can still be seriously injured or killed at speed.

Underwater Head Impact Testing at SUNY in late 1990

Outboard Marine Corporation and Mercury Marine funded an investigation into a propeller guard striking heads underwater. They used:

  1. A specific propeller guard invented by Dick Snyder of Mercury Marine,
  2. a special water facility at State University of New York at Buffalo,
  3. and a crash dummy to conduct the underwater tests.

Several impacts were conducted in the manner seen in the image below in late 1990.

SUNY Propeller Guard Test Dummy

SUNY Propeller Guard Test Dummy

Conclusions of the resulting technical paper, “Injury Analysis of Impacts Between A Cage-Type Propeller Guard and a Submerged Head” coauthored by the lead researcher Michael W. Scott, include:

“The results of this study support the argument of the NBSAC report that blunt trauma injuries may become significant at speeds greater than 10 mph.”

Note the statement above is not very definitive due to the use of phrases like “support the argument” and “may become significant”.

Comparison of the 1989 NBSAC Report and the Head Impact Report Regarding Propeller Guard Top Speeds

The 1989 NBSAC report Biomechanical considerations section on pages 17 and 18 of their report stated:

“It was repeatedly stated that a skull impact of 10 mph or more in the water would generally be fatal.”

However, they cite no individuals or references as supporting the statement above.

The 1989 NBSAC report also states:

“Even with an idealized cushioning material, not currently known to exist, head or body cavity strikes at speeds over 10mph could likely be fatal.”

Again, no individual or reference is cited regarding the statement above.
In addition the use of “could likely” is very indecisive.

Need for a Solution

The NBSAC and Head Impact studies are basically saying fatalities become a major problem in propeller guard head impacts at speeds above 10 miles per hour.

Define the Problem

Mitigate propeller strike injuries due to peak impact forces, including those at speeds greater than 10 mph.

There are obviously other concerns about specific propeller guards on specific boats as speeds increase including: boat handling issues, drag, fuel consumption, and emissions.

This Tech Report only focuses on reducing peak impact forces.

The Existing Log Strike System – Typical One Stage Tilt Cylinder

Tilt cylinders have long been around to protect the outboard motor. They can prevent outboard motors from breaking off when striking obstacles such as rocks or floating logs.

Normal tilt cylinders typically have hydraulic relief valves (balls and springs) retained within the cylinder piston. The relief valves cushion the upward swing of the outboard motor when it strikes floating debris and the cylinder rod extends.

A typical single stage tilt cylinder is shown below.

Trim Cylinder Design for Log Strike

Trim Cylinder Design for Log Strike

History of Two Stage Tilt Cylinders

Sometimes one stage tilt cylinders restrict the upward swing of the outboard motor too much before it clears the object and the outboard motor breaks off.

Thus, two stage hydraulic cylinders were designed to solve this problem.

We have never seen their use on a production outboard motor, likely due to them costing a little more. Outboard motor manufacturers are very cost sensitive.

Two stage cylinders are designed to provide minimal resistance to the upward swing of the outboard motor until it clears the obstacle. Then they apply significant resistance to the upward swing of the outboard motor until it stops or reaches the top of its swing. The outboard motor then settles back down to its original trim position.

Historical Two Stage Hydraulic Tilt Cylinder Patents

Many outboard manufacturers and some third party suppliers previously developed and patented two-stage tilt cylinders for outboard motors including:

  1. Outboard Marine Corporation
  2. Yamaha/Sanshin
  3. Carl Kiekhaefer of Kiekhaefer Corporation which became Mercury, then Mercury Marine
  4. Charles Alexander of Kiekhaefer Corporation
  5. Volvo Penta
  6. Brunswick / Mercury Marine
  7. Parker-Hannifin
  8. Showa (well known Japanese manufacturer of tilt cylinders for outboard motors)

Some use a spring around the cylinder rod inside of the cylinder to time when a washer will begin to cover over some or all of the relief valve inlets. The spring method sometimes simultaneously creates a more tortuous path through some of the relief valves that increases the relief valve pressure as the cylinder rod extends. Another feature is some of the relief valves can have a higher pressure setting than others. The relief valves with a lower setting can be covered up by the washer only leaving the relief valves with the higher setting open to flow after the outboard clears the object.


  1. “Approaches to Prevent Outboard Motors From Flipping Into Boats After Striking Floating or Submerged Objects. 2018. Pages 28-38.
  2. “Approaches to Prevent Outboard Motors From Flipping Into Boats After Striking Floating or Submerged Objects. Supplement #1. 2020. Pages 5-7.

Mercury Marine Modern Two-Stage Hydraulic Tilt Cylinders

Mercury Marine showed a two-stage hydraulic tilt cylinder design in a 2017 presentation to the Western Dredge Association. Clips from pages 14 and 15 of that presentation are shown below.

Mercury Marine two-stage hydraulic cylinder assembly

Mercury Marine two-stage hydraulic cylinder assembly

Mercury Marine two-stage hydraulic cylinder components

Mercury Marine two-stage hydraulic cylinder components

Recent Brunswick Patent for Digitally Controlled Two-Stage Hydraulic Tilt Cylinder

Brunswick patented a two stage cylinder using magnetic fluid that allows it to dynamically respond to log strikes (and human strikes). An electric charge adjusts the viscosity of the tilt cylinder fluid exiting the rod end of the tilt cylinder allowing the fluid itself to act as a virtual relief valve. The system can act as a two stage hydraulic tilt cylinder by reducing the pressure in the rod end of the cylinder as the fluid escapes until it clears the object.

The magnetic fluid system then shifts to a higher virtual relief valve setting until the upward swing of the drive is halted. This system can be controlled by the Engine Control Unit (ECU) allowing it to make decisions based upon multiple variables. See the images below:

Operational chart for Brunswick two stage magnetic fluid hydraulic tilt cylinder

Operational chart for Brunswick two stage magnetic fluid hydraulic tilt cylinder

Below is a chart showing some of the variables Brunswick’s magnetic tilt cylinder can take into account as it maps out the best way to handle a specific impact.

Brunswick two stage magnetic fluid hydraulic tilt cylinder patent

Brunswick two stage magnetic fluid hydraulic tilt cylinder patent

Another Recent Brunswick Patent for a Digitally Controlled Two Stage Cylinder

Brunswick also recently patented a digitally controlled hydraulic tilt cylinder using normal hydraulic fluid. It includes feeding back the amount of extension of the cylinder rod (its position) which can also be used to dynamically calculate the position of the cylinder piston. This design also includes a hydraulic brake that can be used to prevent the cylinder rod from extending when the drive is operating in reverse. It also provides additional resistance to the upward swing of the outboard motor after it clears the object. See the image below.

Brunswick hydraulic tilt cylinder with position feedback

Brunswick hydraulic tilt cylinder with position feedback

This position sensing version of a hydraulic tilt cylinder also has an operational chart fairly similar to the chart for the two stage tilt cylinder using magnetic fluid.

Normal tilt cylinders must have their internal relief valve set high enough to prevent the drive from trimming out in reverse.
Digital tilt cylinders have many options to prevent the tilt cylinder from trimming out in reverse.

Sanshin / Yamaha Two Stage Cylinder Patent Drawing Shows Lowering of Peak Impact Force

A Japanese Sanshin / Yamaha patent for a two stage tilt cylinder provided the force vs. time graph below.

Sanshin (Yamaha) two stage outboard motor tilt cylinder patent drawing graph

Sanshin (Yamaha) two stage outboard motor tilt cylinder patent drawing graph

The graph above shows the peak impact force for a traditional outboard tilt cylinder is much greater (the solid line) than that of a two stage tilt cylinder (the dotted two humped curve).

The two stage cylinder quickly lets fluid out of the rod end of the cylinder when an object is struck, then begins to resist the upward swing of the outboard as soon as the object is cleared by the outboard.

The Solution to Reducing Propeller Guard Impact Forces

Use two stage cylinders in combination with propeller guards to reduce peak forces and accelerations to humans struck in the water while underway.

Humans may be lighter than logs, but they can still activate the log strike system when they are struck, especially when struck by smaller outboards at modest speeds.

Two stage cylinders provide minimum resistance to the outboard swinging upward until the outboard clears the human.

The new digital two stage tilt cylinders for outboard motors offer on most countless ways of making this system even better. For example you know when the system is underway in reverse. The system could run with an extremely low relief valve setting when they vessel is not underway in reverse. Larger outboards would need a higher relief valve setting to cover running in rough water or being airborne and re-entering the water.

What Type of Propeller Guards Might Benefit the Most From The Use of Two Stroke Cylinders

Dick Snyder Propeller Guard Patent Sketch

Dick Snyder Propeller Guard Patent Sketch

Some propeller guards wrap around the front on the lower leading edge of the outboard motor. Examples include:

  1. Cage type guards that actually wrap around the lower leading edge of the drive, such as Dick Snyder / Mercury Marine’s propeller guard as shown at right.
  2. Vane type propeller guards like those built by MidCoast Marine.
  3. More conventional looking cage type propeller guards like those built by Propeller Guard Technologies. Their drives are tied to the outboard motor. The outboard motor and the propeller guard are basically one piece.

Mike Scott’s data from the SUNY head impact studies can be seen in an earlier volume of his report. The data shows the drive partially swinging up via an accelerometer placed at the rear of the torpedo at higher impact speeds. The same effect can be seen with lower peak accelerations for off center strikes. Minimal upward swing is visible in the videos accompanying the SUNY head impact tests.

Scott’s testing results were more severe than would actually occur in the field for multiple reasons. Among them was they trimmed the outboard motor down against a trim limit peg and built up the rod end pressure to the relief drive pressure before every test run. They said they did it to represent propeller force. By pre-charging the rod end of the cylinder to the relief valve pressure there was no longer a brief cushion while that pressure built up when a person was struck. This increased the acceleration of the head when it was struck.

Additional Benefits

  1. The use of two stage tilt cylinders can reduce damage to propeller guards when grounding or striking rocks while underway.
  2. The use of two stage tilt cylinders can help prevent outboard motors from breaking off and flipping into boats at higher speeds.
  3. Improve the life of marine drives by reducing peak impact forces.
  4. The use of digitally controlled two stroke cylinders (like the two Brunswick digitally controlled hydraulic tilt cylinders shown earlier) brings almost endless possibilities and features, including running with the equivalent of pressure relief valves set at near zero.


This Tech Brief is very general.

It will take considerable effort to test this approach.

That testing might be significantly sped up if researchers had access to a dry land impact test stand like the one at Mercury Marine.

The method will likely prove to be most effective on smaller outboard motors.

Wrapping Things Up

We considered calling the use of two stroke cylinders to reduce peak force when a person is struck by a propeller guard an invention.

We did not because the boating industry developed this approach over 50 years ago to prevent the outboard motor from breaking off when it struck a log or rock.

To our knowledge, two stage hydraulic tilt cylinders never made it to production, but almost everybody developed one at one time of another.

Recent developments in this field by Brunswick may finally bring them into production.


We welcome your comments

Malibu Appeals $200 million verdict in Batchelder case

A quote from Malibu’s August 15, 2022 appeal in the Batchelder case is below:

“Defendant Malibu Boats, LLC herby appeals to the Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia from the Final Judgement entered on August 28, 2021 including all adverse ruling sustained therein and all subsequent adverse rulings including but not limited to ….”

The Superior Court of Rabun County Georgia reaffirmed the original August 2021 verdict on July 18, 2022 and informed Malibu they had 30 days to appeal, which Malibu did on August 15, 2022.

This legal case resulted from the July 17,2014 death of 7 year old Ryan Batchelder on Lake Burton in Georgia.

Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather & Littky-Rubin represented the Batchelder family. Their press release after the initial verdict was rendered discusses some of the earlier history of the Batchelder case.

A major element of the case was Malibu’s awareness of certain open bow ski boats taking water over the bow. We recently published an article showing how boat manufacturers can use several of the tools we have placed online to monitor the post sale safety of their products and take action when safety issues arise vs. waiting til they are sued.

Batchelder vs. Malibu: Monitoring Post Sale Safety

The $200 million dollar verdict in Batchelder vs. Malibu Boats was reaffirmed July 18, 2022. One reason for such a large verdict was Malibu’s lack of a Post Sale Safety Monitoring system in which they actively sought out accidents involving their boats and addressed Post Sale safety issues.

An order by the Judge denied the various points raised by Malibu against the original verdict.

One of those points was that Malibu was not allowed to bring up in trial that there were no previous similar accidents.

Prior to the trial the judge heard a long list of things from both sides that each side would like to keep out of the trial.
In this instance the judge ruled Malibu would not be able to bring up there were no previous similar accidents AND Plaintiffs would not be able to bring up previous Malibu accidents.

Some Sources of Boat Post Sale Accident / Incident Data

Polson Enterprises was involved in identifying previous water over the bow Malibu accidents in BARD (the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Accident Report Database), in the news media, in social media, in the Malibu Crew online forum, even back in the days of USENET and rec.sports.waterski, and otherwise available to Malibu.

While that information did not make it into the actual trial, the judge mentioned it in the order addressing issues raised by Malibu.

Open Bow Photo from Malibu-Axis Owners Facebook Page

Open Bow Photo from Malibu-Axis Owners Facebook Page

Note, our coverage of other elements of the Judges Order is at Batchelder vs Malibu: $200 million jury verdict stands.

The portion of the order pointing out Malibu’s lack of Post Sale Monitoring of Product Safety is contained within pages 71-73 of the link provided by Clark, Fountain, LaVista, Prather & Littky-Rubin, the legal firm representing the family along with Drew Ashby at the Ashby Firm, now known as ATL.

This post begins with quotes from the judges order. It ends with tools that can help boat manufacturers monitor the safety of their boats in the field. Post Sale Monitoring allows boat builders to build safer boats and document their efforts. Read More →

Batchelder vs Malibu: $200 million jury verdict stands

This case arose from a 2014 propeller strike in Georgia in which water came over the bow of a 2000 Malibu Response LX rental ski boat when it crossed its own wake. Seven year old Ryan Batchelder was washed out of or jumped from the bow and was fatally struck by the boat’s propeller. More details on the history of this case are near the end of this post.

In August 2021, the jury found Malibu guilty, awarding a total of $200 million.

Among issues in the case was Malibu’s failure to warn boat owners after Malibu knew of the hazard (2000 Malibu Response LX taking water over the bow).

Malibu Moved for New Verdict or New Trial

In September 2021, Malibu moved for a new verdict or a new trial. Issues raised by Malibu at this time included their view that Malibu LLC was not a continuation of Malibu West, they thought the punitive award was excessive, Malibu owed no duty to Ryan Batchelder, Malibu was not allowed to bring up there were no similar accidents, and more.

Both sides have been asserting their respective positions to the court since September 2021.

On Monday July 18, 2022, the court ruled on the motions and issues raised by Malibu.

The court stated, “These matters came to a hearing on May 26, 2022. After considering the parties’ written submissions, the arguments of the parties, the Court record, and all other matters proper, Malibu LLC’s action is hereby DENIED.” Read More →

July 4th weekend 2022 boat propeller accidents

We noticed a significant increase in media reported boat propeller accidents over the weekend of July 4, 2022 compared to previous July 4th weekends.

We briefly list the boat propeller accidents for the 6 day period beginning Saturday July 2, 2022 below.

The list of of dozen boat propeller strike accidents includes 6 fatalities, two high profile accidents, and at least four pontoon boat related propeller strikes.

  • FLORIDA – PONTOON 2 July accident – 8 July 2022 KTLO of Mountain Home Arkansas “9-year-old Jonesboro girl injured in boating accident on Norfork Lake” reports a Nine year-old girl was struck by pontoon boat propeller on Norfork Lake in Arkansas on 2 July 2022. The young girl had just approached the boarding ladder when the pontoon boat operator put the boat in reverse to go pickup a group of people that had jumped off a bluff. The girl was life flighted to Springfield Missouri.
  • FLORIDA 2 July – 8 July JAX (Jacksonville Florida CBS47) “Local Man Loses Leg in Boating Crash” reports via video Logan Farquar (spelling uncertain) lost his leg under the Vilano bridge Saturday 2 July 2022 when a ski boat crashed into a small fishing boat Saturday night near St Augustine Florida. He lost his leg to a boat propeller while trying to save his fiancee.

  • Julia Budzinski accident

  • FATALITY VIRGINIA – HIGH PROFILE ACCIDENT 2 July accident – 3 July WRIC (Virginia) “Teen killed in boating accident on James River” reports a 17 year old girl killed by boat propeller on James River in Virginia on Saturday July 2, 2022. Two youth were floating on a tube pulled by a boat. They fell, the boat turned around to get them, that act created a wave that changed the trajectory of the boat. A 17 year old girl was ran over by the boat and fatally struck by the propeller. She was declared dead in a nearby hospital. The girl was later identified as Julia Budzinski, daughter of Mark Budzinski, a Toronto Blue Jay’s coach. This accident received a great deal of publicity.
Julie Budzinski moment of silence at baseball game. Boston Herald photo.

Julie Budzinski moment of silence at a Toronto Blue Jays baseball game

Boston Herald photo

  • FATALITY OKLAHOMA 2 July accident – 3 July KOCO (Oklahoma) “Two drowning deaths on Oklahoma lakes mar holiday weekend” reports Braxton Byrd, 23 of Norman Oklahoma, was wake surfing on Lake Eufuala (Oklahoma) a mile south of Porum Landing Boat Ramp about 6pm Saturday July 2, 2022. He fell, the boat operator went past him, then backed up to him. Braxton Byrd was fatally struck by the propeller. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
  • FATALITY TENNESSEE – PONTOON 2 July accident – 5 July 2022 Tennessean (Tennessee) “10-year-old girl dies in boating accident on Tennessee River during Fourth of July weekend” reports a ten year old girl was riding a tube pulled by a pontoon boat on the Tennessee River on Saturday 2 July. She and the tube contacted the outboard motor in Decatur County. Her injuries were fatal. While the news does not specifically mention a propeller strike, it sounds like that is what happened.
  • MASSACHUSETTS 3 July accident – 3 July (Massachusetts) “New details: Boating accident leaves one person with serious injuries “New details: Boating accident leaves one person with serious injuries” reports a 31 year old male received life threatening injuries to his leg from an outboard propeller near Barnstable / Cape Cod Massachusetts Sunday shortly after 5pm July 3rd, 2022. The boat experienced engine trouble after the accident, it was met by a boat from the Barnstable Harbormaster’s Office which delivered the man to an ambulance, which took him to a life flight helicopter. Life Flight flew the injured man to a Rhode Island Hospital Trauma Center.
  • ARIZONA 3 July accident – 4 July 2022 Havasu News (Arizona) “Teen suffers major injury after boating accident on Parker strip” reports Colorado River Station Marine Enforcement Unit responded to Roadrunner floating bar on Parker Strip on July 3rd. A 17 year old victim was struck in the lower extremities by a boat propeller as the boat was backing off shore. He was life flighted to a trauma center in Phoenix. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

  • Justin Sutherland accident

  • MINNESOTA HIGH PROFILE ACCIDENT 3 July accident – 5 July 2022 Mpls St Paul (Minneapolis Minnesota) “Family of Justin Sutherland Launches GoFundMe After Boat Accident” reports Justin Sutherland, a well known tv chef in Minnesota, was boating July 3rd. His hat blew off, he reached for it, the boat hit a wave, and he was ejected. Sutherland was struck in the head and arm by the boat propeller. “His arm is broken … His jaw is severely broken, … he sustained many lacerations.” This accident has and continues to receive a great deal of press as Sutherland is a nationally known chef.
Justin Sutherland gourmet chef, cropped from Warner Media image

Justin Sutherland gourmet chef

cropped from Warner Media image

  • FLORIDA 4 July accident – 4 July WFLA News8 (Florida) 4 July 2022 “Man struck by boat propeller near Egmont Key” reports a 46 year old man was struck by boat propeller July 4, 2022 near Egmont Key (Florida). Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) responded to the 2pm accident. St. Petersburg Fire Rescue transported the victim to a medical facility.
  • FATALITY LOUISIANA – PONTOON D 4 July accident – 4 July 2022 WAFB (Louisiana) “Teen girl killed by boat propeller after going overboard; driver charged” reports Madison Bradley 17, of Slidel Lousisana, was killed by a pontoon boat propeller on July 4, 2022 when she fell from the bow (bowriding). The boat hit the wake of a passing boat, she and another person fell overboard. They were on the Blind River in Livingston Parish. Six people were on the pontoon boat.
  • MICHIGAN 4 July accident – 5 July 2022 Michigan Live “3 hospitalized after boat crash, propeller slicing in Bay County on July 4 weekend” reports a woman, 32 of Saginaw Michigan, was trying to push a boat off shore. The propeller was not under power at that time. She suffered a large laceration to her leg when she fell from the boat while trying to push it off shore.
  • FATALITY TENNESSEE – PONTOON 6 July 2022 Chattanoogan (Tennessee) “Jordan Matthews, 34, Killed In Boating Accident On Chickamauga Lake” reports Jordan Matthews, age 34 of Hamilton County TN, was bowriding an older pontoon boat on Chickamauga Lake about 1pm July 6th. He fell over the bow, was ran over by the boat, received several lacerations, and was recovered unconscious. He was taken to Rhea Medical Center after receiving CPR and was declared dead at the medical facility.
  • FATALITY MISSOURI 7 July accident – 12 July 2022 Branson TriLake News “Fatal Accident on Table Rock Lake” reports a 15 year old girl and a 16 year old boy were struck by a pontoon boat while swimming in Table Rock Lake on Thursday 7 July. They were swimming at Breezy Point when they were struck by a 2022 Regency pontoon which stuck a rock bluff shortly after striking them. The teenage girl was from O’Fallon Missouri. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Missouri Highway Patrol has labeled the accident as “Persons struck by a propeller/propulsion unit/water jet.
  • STILL FOLLOWING REPORTS – 7 July – multiple reports are coming in of a bass boat running over a pontoon boat on Lake Sam Rayburn in Texas on July 7. One dead, multiple injuries. No mention of propeller strikes but they typically occur when one boat goes over another.

You can compare of list of 2022 July 4th propeller strikes to our list of 2021 propeller strikes for the same period.

USCG releases Recreational Boating Statistics 2021

The U.S. Coast Guard released their annual 2021 recreational boating accident statistics report on 16 June 2022.

Total number of accidents, injuries, and deaths were down significantly in 2021.

2021 USCG NARD reported accident statistics were 4,439 accidents, 2,641 injuries, and 658 deaths.

2020 USCG BARD reported accident statistics were 5,265 accidents, 3,191 injuries, and 767 deaths

2019 USCG BARD reported accident statistics were 4,168 accidents 2,559 injuries, and 613 deaths.

USCG previously attributed the sharp increase in accidents, injuries, and fatalities in 2020 to a significant increase in boating during the pandemic.

USCG supplied no corresponding interpretation of the sharp decrease in accidents, injuries, and fatalities in 2021.

Similarly, propeller accidents, injuries, and deaths were considerably down in 2021.

2021 USCG BARD reported 188 propeller accidents, 191 injuries, and 24 deaths.

2020 USCG BARD reported 247 propeller accidents, 241 injuries, and 39 deaths.

2019 USCG BARD reported 171 propeller accidents, 155 injuries, and 35 fatalities.

Propeller accidents were considerably down in 2021 (down from 247 in 2020 to 191 in 2021).
Propeller injuries were considerable down from 241 in 2020 to 191 in 2021.
Propeller fatalities were considerably down from 39 in 2020 to 24 in 2021. Read More →

Tangmo killed by boat propeller in Thailand

Tangmo image courtesy Wiki-Drama

image courtesty Wiki-Drama

A beautiful young actress known as Tangmo (Nida Patcharaweeraphong, age 37) fell from a speedboat into the Chao Phaya River in Bangkok Thailand. Tangmo was on a restaurant trip with friends on Thursday February 24, 2022. Tangmo had been seated at the rear of the boat and fell in about 10:40pm. Early reports said 30 divers searched the area for her body.

The Tangmo Accident

Her body was recovered about 1 pm Saturday and found to have a large 30 centimeter long cut on her right thigh. An autopsy found she had drowned because there was mud (sand) in her lungs. The autopsy possibly caused by the boat propeller may have cut into a major artery. The cut could have limited Tangmo’s ability to help herself. Examiners could not determine if the leg cut was before or after her death.

A forensic expert said sand was found in Tangmo’s lungs indicating she was still breathing when she fell into the river. They said that due to movement of the Chao Phraya River, sand particles become suspended in the water. As a result, people do not have to hit the bottom of the river to have sand in their lungs.

Police removed the boat propeller for examination. On Wednesday they re-attached the propeller for a re-enactment of the accident. But the propeller fell off the boat as soon as it was started. Police lost the propeller of the speedboat about 6pm Tuesday March 2nd during a re-enactment of her death.

Mercury Verado outboard less propeller<br>image courtesy Bangkok Post

Mercury Verado outboard less propeller. Image courtesy Bangkok Post

As seen above, the outboard motor was a Mercury Marine Verado outboard. News reports indicate the boat was a Cobalt. Read More →

Yamaha Patent Application: Propeller Status Indicator Lights

Back in April 2014, Brunswick was issued U.S. Patent 8,803,711 for what eventually became Mercury’s Moving Propeller Alert device. It uses several LED lights to display a rotating pattern when the propeller is turning and the boat is stationary or barely underway. Mercury has on online brochure.

Now, in 2022, Yamaha’s U.S. Patent for a related device was printed by the US Patent and Trademark office as US Patent Application 2022/0106028 published April 7, 2022.

Yamaha cites the Brunswick patent as prior art and claims two improvements:

1. They provide a means to place to device directly on the back of the outboard motor.
2. They can provide additional information about the status of the outboard via the lights. Read More →

Ethan’s Story: Importance of engine cut-off switches

Ethan Issacs’ family created a great video about their wonderful son, Ethan, who is no longer with us. Ethan lost his life because a youth sailing coach failed to attach their boat engine kill switch lanyard.

In the video, the local Sarasota Florida police department recounts that day. (See our initial coverage of the accident.)

His family dropped Ethan and his brother off at the sailing school that Saturday morning, just like any other weekend.

We encourage everybody to wear their kill switch lanyard or virtual lanyard.

A big thanks to all who assisted with this video:

  • Mindy, Ethan’s mother
  • Greg, Ethan’s father
  • Tanner, Ethan’s brother
  • Linda, Ethan’s grandmother
  • Van, Ethan’s grandfather
  • Krish & Aadi two of Ethan’s classmates from Pine View School for the Gifted
  • Officers Ron Dixon and Michael Skinner of the Sarasota Police Marine Patrol
  • All those on the other side of the lens that made this video possible.

Special thanks to Officers Dixon and Skinner for their assistance to Ethan that day, and for being willing to relive those moments for this video.

It is very timely releasing this video now with National Boating Safety week and the Memorial Day Holiday are almost upon us.

Please forward a link to this page or directly to the YouTube video to your boating friends.

Be Safe Out There!

Read More →

Prevent Unauthorized Operation of Rental Boats Invention

Our invention eliminates / stops / prevents unauthorized individuals from operating rental boats during the rental period, sometimes called nonauthorized operation

The disclosure below of our invention to Prevent Non-Authorized Operation of Rental Boats was posted on February 8, 2022. We will make no changes to the text below the line following this paragraph except to correct misspellings, punctuation, and to update html/computer codes and links. Any updates to the invention itself will be posted below the invention disclosure.

This invention disclosure was posted February 8, 2022.


Boat rental operations typically require one or more individuals to check in at the facility, designate what kind of boat they want and how long they want it (reservations are sometimes made earlier), sign rental documents, pay for the rental, agree to pay for fuel used when they return, receive some instruction in how to operate the boat and its systems, receive safety instructions, sign disclaimers, and verify the condition of the propeller before they take off.

Marinas and rental facilities typically require those who will be operating the boat to sign up as operators, provide their drivers license, meet certain requirements such as be sober, don’t drink or do drugs while operating the boat, meet rental requirements of that state, and receive some onsite instruction and/or previously watch a video.

Non-authorized Users Operate Rental Boats

During the rental period, non-authorized operators often operate the boat. While authorized or non-authorized operators may be at the helm during an accident, we have seen several rental boat propeller accident cases in which a non-authorized operator was at the helm. They may:

  1. Have previously planned to be an operator but did not complete the pre arrival training, the on site training, or meet specific requirements to be an authorized operator.
  2. Just decide to drive a while because they want to, or to give someone a break.
  3. Arrived in the middle or end of a multi day rental.
  4. See what they perceive to be a dangerous situation developing and immediately take action by operating the boat
  5. Be young children or mentally challenged individuals that just happen to have access to the keys or some other means to start the boat.
  6. Be individuals that were not part of your party that somehow wound up on your vessel.
  7. Not know they are non-authorized operators. They think it is fine for anybody to operate the boat and no one instructed them differently.
  8. Consider themselves to be the most capable driver at the moment due to alcohol consumption by authorized operators
  9. Be Law Enforcement professionals, Lake Rangers, Lake Patrol, County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department rescue personnel, other first responders, good samaritans, marina staff, or others with legitimate needs to operate the rental vessel.

The Problem to be Solved

Prevent unauthorized operators from operating rental vessels. Read More →