homepage logo

Safe at Sea: MOB and propeller strike

By Staff | Aug 13, 2019

(Editor’s note: Information in this column was taken from the text for the America’s Boating Course, which is offered by the local America’s Boating Club chapter.)

Tragically, this year’s boating season has resulted in several fatalities; in fact, our waters may be approaching the highest fatality rate in years. A couple of these deaths have been the result of MOBs – Man Over Board – involving propeller strikes.

Therefore, this week’s Safe at Sea column will focus on both information regarding propeller strikes and safety tips in the event your vessel is faced with a MOB situation.

Did you realize: A typical recreational propeller can travel from head-to-toe on an average person in less that one-tenth of a second. Fortunately, most propeller accidents can be prevented. The following are some steps that can help to save lives:

– Wear your engine cut-off switch lanyard and your life jacket at all times.

– Assign a passenger to keep watch around the propeller area of your boat when people are in the water.

– Consider purchasing/installing a propeller safe device for your boat. They range propeller guards to wireless cut-off switches.


Again, a few of these steps are simple; perhaps they are so simple boaters forget them altogether.

– Even prior to starting the engine, assign a passenger to keep watch of the area around the propeller. This is especially critical in any area with people in the water, like leaving a crowded beach area.

– Never allow passengers to board or exit the boat from the water when the engines are on – even idling (props may continue to spin).

– Be especially alert when operating in congested areas and never enter swimming zones.

– Never permit passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seatbacks, or any other location where they may fall overboard.

– Children should be watched carefully while onboard.

– Establish clear rules for swim platform use, boarding ladders and even seating. For example, passengers need to remain seated at all times.


– Stop!

– Then slowly turn the boat around, keeping the person in sight as you approach.

– Assign one person to continuously monitor the person in the water.

– Turn your engine off first and then bring the person to safety.

– Never reverse your boat to pick someone up out of the water. Circle around again.

Pat Schmidt is a member of America’s Boating Club of Sanibel-Captiva. For more about the chapter and the courses it offers, visit www.sancapboating.club or contact education@sanibelcaptivasps.org or 239-985-9472.