Propeller safety and awareness can prevent prop strike injuries. We all know the danger our propellers pose to people in the water, but it bears repeating. With the amount of torque generated, props can cause devastating damage to anyone in their path.
Use caution around swim platforms
Anytime you boat in a marina, you need to consider the possibility that divers could be in the water cleaning boat hulls. Always walk to the stern and check before starting your engines. Make sure passengers are away from the swim platform as many prop strike injuries occur when someone falls off a swim platform. Make sure your crew and passengers know not to get near the swim platform when the engines are running. Although intuitive to us, this may not be obvious to our guests.
Use caution while towing
If you are picking up a skier, swimmer or overboard crew member, always kill the engine before anyone tries to board. Never, ever back down to pick up someone. Approach bow-first, go alongside and cut the engine as the person nears the stern. Wait until the engine is off to send someone onto the swim platform to assist a person in the water—and then only if assistance is absolutely necessary.
Although it seems like common sense not to back down on people, it’s surprising how often boaters do it. When you are at the helm, just imagine yourself in the water. I have been that person in the water. A dive boat backed down on me in Cozumel a few years ago, and as I pushed against the swim platform, the prop looked awfully big just a foot away from my fins. I may have used some harsh language at the time.
Be prepared to treat injuries
Boaters should make sure the onboard first-aid kit is equipped properly. Granted, a box of bandages may not do much good for a prop strike injury, but on our boat, we carry a well-stocked first-aid kit that includes supplies for dealing with traumatic injuries. You never know what you might stumble onto out on the water or on the dock. –Scott Morris
Prepare for any crisis
Learn how to handle any emergency while underway by taking our Emergencies Onboard seminar.