New Law Requires Skippers To Use Engine Cutoff Device

tsharac

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Federal safety rule, which goes into effect April 1, 2021, applies to boats less than 26 feet operating at plane or above displacement speed.

Exceptions to the ECOS requirement include if the main helm of the vessel is in an enclosed cabin or the vessel is not operating on plane or at displacement speed. Low-speed activities such as trolling or docking do not require use of an ECOS. The vessel operator is also exempt if the boat's motor produces less than 115 pounds of static thrust — or about the size of a 3-hp engine.

The new rule applies to all navigable waterways. Current federal law preempts states from enacting or enforcing a law on a subject that is different from a federal law on the same subject. States also cannot enforce federal law. The National Safe Boating Council notes that the U.S. Coast Guard expects to reach out to the seven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Texas) that currently have some form of ECOS requirement to determine enforcement. In the 43 states without ECOS rules, it's expected that a new ECOS law violation would be adjudicated in federal court. While boat operators who fail to follow the new requirement could face a $100 civil penalty for the first offense, BoatUS expects the Coast Guard's initial focus will be education.

 

Kenneth

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According the the FAQ in that link it only applies to boats made in 2020 or later.
 

tsharac

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According the the FAQ in that link it only applies to boats made in 2020 or later.
Q6. What boats need to have an Engine Cut-Off Switch installed?
A6. Boats less than 26 feet in length that generate more than 115lbs of static thrust (~ 2-3hp) and were built beginning in January 2020. If the boats’ primary helm is inside an enclosed cabin it is not required to have an Engine Cut-Off Switch.


Q3. Who needs to use an Engine Cut-off Switch Link ECOSL?
A3. All operators of recreational boats less than 26’ in length that have an Engine Cut-Off Device installed

I interpret Q6 as applying to boat manufacturers, the key word is "installed". While Q3 applies to boat operators, basically if a boat/engine already has an engine cut off switch, you must use it if your boat is less than 26', doesn't have an enclosed helm, and you're cruising above displacement speed.


Q23. I bought my 22-foot boat many years ago and it did not have an engine cut-off device installed by the manufacturer, so last year I added a new wireless engine cut-off devices. Am I required to use it?
A23. Yes. If an engine cut-off switch is present, it must be used.

Q23 is a bit rambling, but the answer is clear. If the engine cut off switch exists, it must be used.

This is the difference between the rule applying to most boaters versus applying to the handful of boaters that bought a new boat in 2020 and beyond.

Maybe I'm interpreting this wrong.
 

leaky

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I wonder what actual problem this is based on - ie how often does somebody really fall out of a running boat?

True story - the CG had me tied up to one of their RIB's in the Merrimack for a safety check. We were drifting stern with the current. Guy at the helm was facing forward with his hands on the wheel, someone more experienced was showing another rookie how to use some electronic device they had for safety checks.

I said "Hey we are going to drift into that can you know" - guy at the helm's first instinct was to run back to the transom to get ready to push off the can, he killed the engine due to one of those stupid devices and then couldn't figure out how to restart his engine. In a panic he fumbled with the putting the clip back in, eventually he did get it working before we hit the can; senior guy was shaking his head in frustration. We wouldn't have actually hit the can, I was still running and just had to step up to the helm, but they seem to cause more problems than they prevent in my eyes.

The better ones are the ones that are a separate switch - at least those you can obviously flip back up if you accidentially set them off. The ones on the key switch aren't complicated or anything but take an extra bit of thought if you are freaked out to re-install.
 

leaky

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In 2019, 299 people fell overboard and 189 of those 299 died. I should look deeper into this report, but I don't see how often the skipper falls overboard while cruising above displacement speeds.


View attachment 106953

Above headway speed definitely is the key thing there, at headway speed in my little center console I might leave the helm for a moment to kick something over or adjust something, but I'm taking that risk because I am in the harbor in broad daylight at 5 knots with people and floating objects all over the place. I fall out, look stupid, and get rescued - I live. In the dark, no not going to do that, certainly not outside the busy harbor.

Now in a little center console, going too fast, doing something stupid - the same reason jetskis have those (and people tend to use them on a jetski), you could smash a wave the wrong way and manage to get yourself ejected, I guess. But never once I have ever thought I was going to fly out of the boat when at the helm - only thing being tethered to it does is make it so you can't step away - maybe that's the point.

Really dislike laws based on theoretical situations that almost never occur - this does seem like another one of those.
 

Keelboater

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I once pulled a guy out of the drink that had been ejected clear out of his boat and the boat kept going without him. It actually took all three of us on board to get him over the rail because he was ready to go down for good. He cried like a baby when he realized he wasn't going to die. Yet I have a feeling he didn't learn much that day because he got lucky instead.
 

Diesel Jerry

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andy65

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So the captain falls overboard, engine quits and frightened passenger can’t start the boat to go retrieve the captain. Captain has the thigamajig. Boat drifts into rocks. Captain drowns because no one can start the boat or figure out how.
 

CMK

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So the captain falls overboard, engine quits and frightened passenger can’t start the boat to go retrieve the captain. Captain has the thigamajig. Boat drifts into rocks. Captain drowns because no one can start the boat or figure out how.
Yup. That's definitely a possibility. Even without the rocks -- cold water and a bit of wind pushing the boat further away could be enough for a bad situation to develop. So if they were going to make rules, they really should have included guidance that that people attach a spare key for the cutoff switch nearby.
 

mmac1913

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tsharac

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IDK, I know a lot of nitwits bought boats during the COVID shutdown.

Covid shutdowns started March 2020 so the report was before then. We'll see how the 2020 and 2021 numbers look with the increase in new boat owners and uptick in boating.
 

Gurryman

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I have a Raymarine LifeTag that's wired to a relay that opens the run circuit and shuts the boat down if I go overboard. I boat solo 75% of the time, and I might have a chance of getting back to the boat if stops. Without the Lifetag the boat, if on autopilot might be found 300 miles away.
The subject of government mandates is not for the wise boater, but the morons that think a checkbook buys you knowledge and experience. Same reason there are warning labels on lawn mowers. Still plenty loose limbs every year. Gov mandates can't fix stupid!
 

tsharac

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For electronic key fob engine cutoffs, what's available?
  • ACR OLAS Guardian
  • Fell Marine MOB+
  • Raymarine LifeTag
  • COASTKEY
  • Autotether Marine
Others?

Anyone else have experience with using and/or installing these?
 

CMK

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An advantage of these electronic devices is that they avoid the problem andy65 pointed out above -- the cut-off key in the water with the skipper making it difficult for the passengers to restart the engine. As I understand it, the electronic devices allow the engine to be restarted immediately without any further steps.
 

WoundUpMarine

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