A friend of mine who completed military service with me way back in the ’80s was involved in an unfortunate propeller strike while skiing at the Clanwilliam Dam in the Cape. Another boat on the dam, commandeered by an unsighted driver, rode directly over him in the water, slicing his foot and leg open to such an extent that he had to have his leg amputated
and now wears an artificial limb. This is a prime example of just how dangerous a spinning propeller can be in the wrong hands and what devastating damage it can do.
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A three blade prop running at 3 000 rpm can inflict 150 strikes in one second! Taking this high impact rate into account, it is clear that when any body part comes into contact with a spinning propeller, considerable damage will be caused.
Always worth remembering, most accidents can be avoided. To prevent accidents it is important for the driver of the boat to utilise an engine cut-off switch attached to a lanyard at all times, should he need to kill the motor quickly.
The boat, particularly if it is a tow boat for skiing or wakeboarding, should have a spotter at all times. Without a spotter, the driver of the boat is often not in a good position to see skiers or wakeboarders in the water.
One of the best alternatives to prevent propeller strikes is to fit a propeller guard. This guard essentially encases the propeller and reduces the possibilities of propeller strike.