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 →

Malibu moves for new verdict / new trial in Batchelder

Malibu Boats filed for a Judgement Not Withstanding the Verdict (JNOV) on September 7, 2021 in the Batchelder vs. Malibu case regarding the $200 million verdict with about $140 million being against them.

Ryan Batchelder clipped from NBC Channel 4 image

Ryan Batchelder
clipped from NBC Channel 4 image

Malibu says,

To the extent that the verdict and judgment impose successor liability on Malibu Boats for the actions of Malibu Boats West, Inc.—which is contrary to law and fact—Malibu Boats also moves for entry of JNOV or in the alternative for a new trial with respect to the verdict and judgment entered against Malibu Boats West, Inc.

Read More →

Boat Accident Trials: Harsh Forum Comments on Verdicts

Boni Buehler as a stewardess

Boni Buehler, high profile boat propeller accident trial
resulting from a 1953 boat accident

Some thoughts for those who tend to offer snap judgements about what happened in boating accidents along with what should have happened in jury trials.

When we read about boating cases/trials in online boating forums, we naturally want to weigh in on what we think happened in the accident. In addition, we also want to weigh in on the findings of the court / Jury.

Themes typically brought up in an online boating forum discussion of a Boat Accident case / trial often include:

  • The McDonalds coffee case.
  • Remington model 700 rifle trigger cases & the Remington Sandy Hook case.
  • My car tires do not have guards on them.
  • Lawyers are blood suckers looking for deep pockets.
  • The boat operator is a drunken, high on drugs, irresponsible, idiot.
  • The boat operator is 100 percent at fault.
  • I can’t understand how the Jury could assign that high of a percentage of fault to the boat builder.
  • The boat operator should have (insert commenter’s proposed actions).
  • It is sad the person is deceased, but they should have (insert commenter’s proposed actions).
  • The jury was packed with bleeding heart city folks that know nothing about boating.
  • Nobody takes responsibility for their actions anymore.
  • You can sue anybody for anything.
  • Jury was full of morons.
  • We already have too many warning labels, and now they want more
  • Are they going to put a warning on (fill in the blank with something ridiculous) now?
  • This case is an example of why boats and everything else have become so expensive.
  • This award will be struck down on appeal.

The common theme is many comments are harsh negative comments about the boat operator, the injured or deceased person, the lawyers, and the jury.

Read More →

Malibu Boats loses 200 million dollar jury trial

Parties in the Batcheler vs. Malibu Boats Legal Case / Trial in Georgia.

  • Stephan Paul Batchelder & Margaret Mary Batchelder (parents of Ryan Batchelder, deceased).
  • Dennis Ficarra (operator of the boat and Ryan’s great uncle).
  • Malibu Boats West.
  • Malibu Boats LLC.

The Trial Jury verdict / award 28 August 2021

Ryan Batchelder

Ryan Batchelder

  • $5 million for life of Ryan Batchelder.
  • $75 million for pain and suffering of Ryan Batchelder.

This total of $80 million was divided between Dennis Ficarra being 75 percent at fault, Malibu Boats West 10 percent at fault, and Malibu Boats LLC 15 percent at fault.

In addition to these findings, the jury found for punitive damages.

  • Malibu Boats West for punitive damages in the amount of $40 million dollars.
  • Malibu Boats LLC for punitive damages in the amount of $80 million dollars.

Making the award / verdict total of $200 million dollars. posted a copy of the actual Batchelder vs. Malibu Jury verdict form.

Read More →

USCG releases Recreational Boating Statistics 2020

USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2020

USCG Recreational Boating Statistics 2020

U.S. Coast Guard released their annual 2019 recreational boating accident statistics report on 30 June 2020.

Total number of accidents, injuries, and deaths were up significantly in 2020.

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.

The email USCG sent out announcing the new statistics included the statement below about the significant increase in accidents, injuries, and deaths.

“The Coast Guard is still analyzing data, but believes that the primary driving factor for the significant increase in deaths was a significant increase in boating activity. There is evidence that boating activity rose significantly during the pandemic, from reports of increased boat sales, insurance policies taken out, insurance claims, and calls for towing assistance.”

Continued reading of USCG’s announcement states not only was boating activity up, but the number of deaths per 100,000 registered vessels was up 25 percent over 2019 as well.

At previous U.S. Coast Guard National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) meetings we have heard an increasing portion of accidents in previous years is due to the increasing popularity of non-powered vessels (kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, etc).

Similarly, propeller accidents, injuries, and deaths were considerably up in 2020.

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 noticeably up in 2020 (up from 171 in 2019 to 247 in 2020) Read More →

Hank Cherry, Mercury, & Bass Cat win 2021 Bassmaster Classic

Congratulations to Hank Cherry for winning the Bassmaster Classic Sunday 13 June 2021.

The Classic was delayed this year due to the virus.

Hank is actually a repeat back to back winner as he won in 2020.

The tournament was on Lake Ray Roberts with the Weigh In in Fort Worth.

John Cherry wins 2021 Bassmaster Classic

John Cherry wins 2021 Bassmaster Classic – Bassmaster image

The Classic Confetti photo at Day 3 Weigh In on Sunday

John Cherry & photographer on Day 3 2021 Bassmaster Classic - Bassmaster photo

John Cherry & photographer on Day 3 2021 Bassmaster Classic – Bassmaster photo

A nice photo a Hank Cherry driving his Bass Cat powered by a 250 horsepower Mercury Pro X/S Outboard.

Trip Weldon (left) & Dave Mercer Bassmaster image

Trip Weldon (left) & Dave Mercer Bassmaster image

A huge thanks to these two men for making the Bassmaster Classic weigh ins so interesting and enjoyable the last several years.

Mercury posted a nice image of several of their outboards in the 2021 Bassmaster Classic on their Facebook page.

Mercury Marine Facebook Image - 11 June 2021 Bassmaster Classic

Mercury Marine Facebook Image – 11 June 2021 Bassmaster Classic

Bassmaster Classic 2021 Mercury Marine Supporting Their Anglers - Mercury Marine FaceBook image 13 June 2021

Bassmaster Classic 2021 Mercury Marine Supporting Their Anglers – Mercury Marine FaceBook image 13 June 2021

Mercury Marine encouraging their anglers the final day of the 2021 Bassmaster Classic.

Feasel propeller case heard by Utah Supreme Court

On June 30, 2012 Mr Feasel and Mr Martinez were fishing. They were in a Tracker bass boat powered by a Mercury Marine outboard motor on a Utah reservoir. The boat swerved and both men were ejected. The unmanned boat circled in the Circle of Death. Mr. Feasel, the passenger, was repeatedly struck the propeller.

Feasel Case Before UT Supreme Court

Feasel Case Before Utah Supreme Court 12 May 2021

While additional issues were raised in the legal case arising from this accident, this post purely focuses on warnings.
Read More →

Kill Switch regulation Coast Guard News Release

Example of a Circle of Death warning

Example of a Circle of Death warning

Kill Switch Regulation Details announced by U.S. Coast Guard today, 10 March 2021.

USCG News Release

News Release
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
Contact: Headquarters Public Affairs
Headquarters online newsroom

U.S. Coast Guard Announces New Law Requiring Use of Engine Cut-off Switches

WASHINGTON – Operators of recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length will be required to use an engine cut-off switch (ECOS) and associated ECOS link (ECOSL) as of April 1, 2021, as the U.S. Coast Guard implements a law passed by Congress.

The ECOS and ECOSL prevent runaway vessels and the threats they pose. The ECOSL attaches the vessel operator to a switch that shuts off the engine if the operator is displaced from the helm. The ECOSL is usually a lanyard-style cord that attaches to an ECOS either in close proximity to the helm or on the outboard motor itself if the vessel is operated by a tiller. When enough tension is applied, the ECOSL disengages from the ECOS and the motor is automatically shut down. Wireless ECOS have recently been developed and are also approved for use. These devices use an electronic “fob” that is carried by the operator and senses when it is submerged in water, activating the ECOS and turning the engine off. Wireless devices are available on the aftermarket and are beginning to become available as manufacturer-installed options.

Each year the Coast Guard receives reports of recreational vessel operators who fall or are suddenly and unexpectedly thrown out of their boat. These events have led to injuries and deaths. During these incidents the boat continues to operate with no one in control of the vessel, leaving the operator stranded in the water as the boat continues on course, or the boat begins to circle the person in the water eventually striking them, often with the propeller. These dangerous runaway vessel situations put the ejected operator, other users of the waterway, and marine law enforcement officers and other first responders in serious danger.

Section 503 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 required manufacturers of covered recreational boats (less than 26 feet in length, with an engine capable of 115 lbs. of static thrust) to equip the vessel with an ECOS installed as of December 2019. Owners of recreational vessels produced after December 2019 are required to maintain the ECOS on their
vessel in a serviceable condition. It is recommended that recreational vessel owners regularly check their existing ECOS system to ensure it works, following manufacturer’s instructions.

Section 8316 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 requires individuals operating covered recreational vessels (less than 26 feet in length, with an engine capable of 115 lbs. of static thrust; 3 HP or more) to use ECOS “links.” Using the ECOSL is required only when the primary helm is not within an enclosed cabin, and when the boat is operating on plane or above displacement speed. Common situations where ECOSL use would not be required include docking/trailering, trolling and operating in no-wake zones.

The Coast Guard believes that the overwhelming majority of recreational vessels produced for decades have had an ECOS installed, so this new use requirement simply obligates recreational vessel operators to use critical safety equipment already present on their boat.

Seven states currently have ECOS use laws for traditional recreational vessels, and 44 states have ECOS use laws for personal watercraft (PWC).

Boaters are encouraged to check the U.S. Coast Guard website for additional information on this new use requirement and other safety regulations and recommendations:


Read More →

Analyzing Boat Acceleration & Boat Coast Down Data

This paper develops a new mathematical model for how boats accelerate during a high speed test run. The process divides a top speed run into two segments, namely a displacement segment and a planing segment. The equation only requires three coefficients for each segment. Each coefficient is independent of the others. Additionally, each coefficient has a meaningful value tied to an attribute of the data. A version of the same model applies to boat coast down data. Previously, some have used polynomials with meaningless coefficients to curve fit coast down data.

This work has been a monumental project on our side. I worked on it off and on for over thirty years.

We hope this report brings new insights to the math and physics behind how recreational boats accelerate and coast down (decelerate). Applications include comparing performance of one boat to another or to itself with modifications. The model identifies differences in performance and the magnitude of those difference. It can also be used to show when those differences occur during a top speed run.

Only a small fraction of the entire report is discussed in this post. We encourage you to read the entire report which is available below.

About This Document Itself

Note: Coast Down Testing is sometimes spelled as Coastdown Testing or as Coast-Down Testing.

This work recently inspired us to digress and take on a spin off boating safety project. Hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.

The document itself is 142 pages in length and about 5 megabytes in size. It contains over 50 images, many of which portray data from actual test run data.

The full paper is best viewed on a large desktop computer monitor.

boat acceleration report cover

Read More →

FLIR receives Virtual Propeller Guard Patent

FLIR logo

FLIR logo

FLIR was awarded U.S. Patent 10,931,934 for Watercraft Thermal Monitoring System and Methods on 23 February 2021.

This patent teaches the use of one or more imaging modules on the vessel scanning one of more areas around the vessel using thermal or non thermal imaging to detect people, debris, or docks in the water near the vessel. Once the object is detected, the operator can be alerted to its presence including its heading, distance, what it is, and could even be shown an image of it.

The control system can take that input (sees person, debris, or dock near the vessel) and automatically steer the vessel, accelerate or decelerate, or stop the propeller depending upon the object and situation.

FLIR describes the system as having an imaging component and a control component. The imaging component is referred to as monitoring modules. They specifically note one or more monitoring modules may be placed at the stern (one place to monitor people near the propeller). Each module may include thermal imaging, non-thermal imaging methods or both thermal and non-thermal imaging capability.

The system may include perimeter detection, meaning it can recognize when someone goes overboard similar to systems on some cruise ships.

The system can take control of the vessel when swimmers or a man overboard situation has been detected, as well as assist in various modes of operation such as docking or tactical debris avoidance.

FLIR US Patent for Virtual Propeller Guard

FLIR US Patent for Virtual Propeller Guard

Read More →

Fell Marine wins Sea Tow National Boating Industry Safety Award

National Boating Industry Safety Awards 2020 emblem

National Boating Industry Safety Awards 2020 emblem

Fell Marine, manufacturer of the MOB+ wireless lanyard kill switch, received the National Boating Industry Safety Award sponsored by Sea Tow Foundation in the Top Gear & Equipment Manufacturer category for 2020.

PropellerSafety would like to thank Sea Tow for sponsoring these awards and especially for recognizing the impact a for profit firm, such as Fell Marine, could have on overall boating safety. For profit firms can not only impact boating safety by launching innovative products, but also by their efforts to spread broader boating safety messages than just, “buy our products”.

The Executive Director of Sea Tow Foundation, Gail Kulp, said:

Fell Marine logo

Fell Marine logo

“FELL Marine knows its core demographic and provides outstanding demonstrations on their website to educate customers on how to install and use a wireless man-overboard device.

They provided a diverse selection of many high-quality advertising materials to review and outline future business opportunities to increase the adoption of their product and further promote boating safety.”

Read More →