The danger of propeller strikes

Spinning propellers are extremely dangerous and propeller strikes can cause serious damage and even death. Read on to find out more about propeller strikes and how they can be prevented.

Did you know?

  • A typical three-blade propeller running at 3 200 rpm can inflict 160 impacts in one second?
  • A typical recreational propeller can travel from head to toe on an average person in less than one-tenth of a second?
  • Most propeller accidents CAN be prevented!

What you can do to prevent propeller strikes

  • Wear your engine cut-off switch lanyard and your life jacket at all times. If the lanyard is removed from the switch, the engine will shut off.
  • Assign a passenger to keep watch around the propeller area of your boat when people are in the water.
  • Consider purchasing propeller safety devices for your boat.

Propeller strike safety tips

  1. Before starting your engine, walk to the stern and look in the water to make certain there is no one near your propeller. Those that are near the propeller may not be visible from the helm.
  2. Never allow passengers to board or exit your boat from the water when engine is running. Even while idling and in neutral, your propeller may continue to spin.
  3. Educate passengers about the location and danger of the propeller. Call attention to and discuss any propeller waning labels around your boat.
  4. Be especially alert when operating in congested areas and never enter swimming zones.
  5. Take extra precautions near boats that are towing skiers or tubers.
  6. Never allow passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs or other locations where they might fall overboard.
  7. Children should be watched carefully while onboard.
  8. Establish clear rules for swim platform use, boarding ladders, and seating (if possible, passengers should remain seated at all times).


If someone falls overboard

  1. STOP!
  2. Slowly turn the boat around, and keep the person in sight as you approach.
  3. Assign a passenger to continuously monitor the person in the water.
  4. Turn your engine off FIRST and then bring the person to safety.

NEVER reverse your boat to pick someone up out of the water. If necessary, go around again.


Safety devices

There is no “one-size fits all” solution to eliminate the risk of propeller injuries. Boaters must carefully review all options and determine which devices make the most sense for their particular boating experience. The most effective preventive measure is to remain alert. Boaters who are aware are those who responsibly manage propeller injury risks. A variety of safety devices are available to help prevent propeller strikes:

  • Wireless cut off switches
  • Propeller guards
  • Ringed propellers
  • Propulsion alternatives (jet drive)
  • Interlocks
  • Sensors
  • Anti-feedback steering

This post first appeared on

DIY – Installing a boat canopy

A boat canopy is a great way of creating shade, while also offering the versatility to fold it back to catch some rays, trailer home or store your boat. While boat canopies can be mounted in a variety of ways, the simplest tops are anchored at the gunwales and utilise adjustable web straps forward and aft to keep the canvas taut and the structure secure. The most affordable models have aluminum bows with reinforced nylon fittings, while more expensive versions feature stainless-steel bows and fittings, offering greater durability in salt water. In either case, make sure the top has at least three bows for proper support.

Getting started

  1. Skill level: 2/5
  2. Time to complete: Under 2 hours

You will need:

  • 6-foot-long boat canopy
  • Eye straps (4) with fasteners
  • Polysulfide sealant
  • T-square (to square the deck hinges)
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line (to snap a line between the two deck hinges)
  • Power drill and bits
  • Countersink bit
  • Screwdriver set
  • Box-wrench set
  • Cleanup rags (to wipe off excess sealant)

1. Select the size

The width of the top is determined by the measurement between the points where the two deck hinges will attach, but the length and height can be varied to suit your needs. For example, if you want to stand underneath, make sure the height, when combined with the distance below the mounting point, offers sufficient headroom. Off-the-shelf tops generally range from four to eight feet in length, with six-foot-long tops ranking as the most popular on runabouts. Choose a canvas colour that coordinates with the boat’s colors.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

2. Position the top

Ask a buddy to hold the fully extended top in place as you decide where the deck hinges should be installed, knowing that these will mark the longitudinal midpoint of the top. It’s important that the deck hinges are exactly opposite and parallel to each other, lest the top would bind when folded. Side-mount deck hinges are available for mounting on vertical surfaces such as cabin bulwarks, if gunwale mounting won’t work. Make sure the folded top will stow with minimal interference in the cockpit.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

3. Mount the deck hinges

Place pieces of masking tape on the mounting surfaces and use the deck hinges to mark the mounting holes for each. Before drilling the mounting holes, be sure the underside is clear of items such as hoses and wires. After drilling, chamfer the holes with a countersink to eliminate gel-coat cracking, and then remove the masking tape, bed the surface with a marine polysulfide sealant and screw each deck hinge into place (use nuts and bolts where possible), cleaning up the excess sealant with a rag dampened with solvent.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

4. Install the top and eye straps

Bolt the bases of the main bow to the deck hinges and erect the top, extending the fore and aft web straps in line with the legs of the bows to form an M-shape on each side. This will tell you where to mount the eye straps. Mark, drill, chamfer, bed and mount each pair (fore and aft) with self-tapping screws at the same position on each side of the boat. The eye straps work best when mounted horizontally. Attach the snap-hooks to the eye straps and use the buckles to evenly tighten the top.

Install boat canopy - Silver Lake Marine

Quick Tip: Pin Pal: If stowing the top is a problem, mount a second pair of deck hinges and use quick-release “grenade” pins. This way, the top can be moved aft to where it folds out of the way.

Adjustable Aft Stays: Instead of straps, some boat canopies use telescoping aft stays, attached to the boat with deck hinges, to secure the main bow. Forward web straps keep things taut. A big advantage of this system is that you can fold back and store the top in an elevated position, so as not to interfere with seating or deck space. With this system, it’s best to secure the canvas in a zippered boot when not in use.

This post first appeared on

South Africa and France team up to patrol the Southern Ocean

South Africa and France are ready to sign an inter-governmental agreement for cooperative patrols in the southern Indian Ocean, against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in each country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The EEZ is the area extending 200 nautical miles (370 km) out from the coast. Within the EEZ, a coastal state has sovereign rights in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) over the living and non-living resources of the sea and the seabed. South Africa’s EEZ includes both that next to the African mainland and that around the Prince Edward Islands, totalling 1 535 538 square kilometres.

Of the monitoring and surveillance fleet operated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Directorate: Fisheries Protection Vessels (FPV), only the Sarah Baartman is capable of patrolling to the more remote off-shore parts of South Africa’s EEZ and around the Prince Edward Islands and Marion Islands in the Southern Ocean. The other three patrol vessels (Lillian Ngoyi, Ruth First and Victoria Mxenge) were built to only patrol up to the 200 nautical mile limit.

Due to various tender, operational and technical reasons, the DAFF vessels have not spent enough time at sea in recent years to effectively patrol South Africa’s EEZ, never mind the remote Prince Edward and Marion Islands.

The Department of Environmental Affairs polar research vessel SA Agulhas II visits Marion Island for relief voyages once per annum, but only calls in at Prince Edward Island once every four years, under very strict environmental regulations. No fishery or EEZ patrols are conducted during these voyages.

However, French naval vessels, based in Port-des-Galets, Reunion Island, regularly patrol the French EEZ in the southern Indian Ocean, north of the Antarctic in the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). These patrol vessels also frequently visit Cape Town during these patrols for resupply, rest and routine maintenance.

With South Africa and France sharing neighbouring EEZs in the Southern Ocean (Marion, Prince Edward and Crozet have contiguous maritime EEZ borders), the two countries share a common interest in protecting the valuable fisheries resources within it.

The proposed agreement, which has been finalised but is awaiting signature during a high-level ministerial visit to Europe later this year, will be similar to the Australia-France Cooperative Enforcement Agreement that was signed in 2011. That agreement allows joint Australian and French patrols to enforce each other’s fishing laws in their respective EEZs and territorial seas in the Southern Ocean.

The cooperative enforcement allows for the exchange of personnel necessary to apply and enforce each country’s laws. For French vessels to enforce South African fisheries laws in South African waters, a South African officer must be aboard and vice versa when South African vessels are in French waters. Measures include the boarding, inspection, hot pursuit, apprehension, seizure and investigation of fishing vessels that are believed to have breached fisheries laws.

When the French Navy offshore patrol vessel Albatros (P681) visited in Cape Town in June this year, having completed her final Indian Ocean patrol, French officials aboard the vessel told defenceWeb that the new agreement was aimed at sharing the burden of the maritime surveillance in these distant areas.

“The sovereignty on our EEZ cannot be enforced by each nation in isolation, and only the sharing of the devoted maritime (resources) is the solution to be more present in these outside territories and fight against illegal activities,” they said.

Commander Riaz Akhoune, Officer Commanding of Albatros, explained that there are only a few instances of illegal fishing around the islands of Kerguelen, Crozet and Amsterdam in the past year, whist there were many fishing boats outside of the EEZ.

“During the Toothfish Wars at the beginning of this century, Albatros couldn’t arrive in Kerguelen without finding a ship fishing illegally,” he continued.

Amplifying the importance of having a continuous patrol presence in the region, Akhoune says it was only through the good cooperation between the Navy and civilian maritime agencies and the justice department which imposed large fines that stopped the large scale illegal fishing.

“It has proved to be effective, in that there is no longer any sign of IUU fishing in the EEZs.”

Since the original French/Australian agreement was implemented, no illegal fishing vessel has been found in the respective EEZs. Scientists have also concluded that the fish population inside the respective EEZ was increasing.

This post originally appeared on Defence Web‘s site.