Monday, September 25, 2017
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Kill switch reminder

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A man who’s boat was left going round in circles in Tauranga Harbour while he struggled to a nearby sandbank is a clear reminder of the need to use the stop lanyard.

Bill, aged 83, was boating alone in a small Fyran aluminium dinghy, the aptly-named, “Free Willy” last Friday.

Click the image above to watch the video

Bill’s boat – Free Willy - was left going round and round in circles.

His 8hp outboard was at near full revs, when he apparently reached for something in the boat and lost balance, and was thrown from the boat.

He managed to swim to a nearby sandbank, fortunately with only minor injuries. He somehow avoided being struck by his unmanned, circling boat.

The empty Free Willy circling at speed in the harbour, was seen by a resident on the hill at Omokoroa who called 111.

Police despatched the Tauranga Coastguard’s vessels TECT Rescue and Sealegs Rescue.

TECT located the man in the water near his speeding dinghy.

He was taken aboard and returned to Omokoroa, while the crew of Sealegs tackled the problem of a high speed runaway Free Willy, with a couple of hours of fuel in the tank.

Fortunately conditions were flat calm and the runaway’s outboard jammed in a turn, otherwise the path of Free Willy may have been too unpredictable to approach.

After studying the regular movement of the vessel, the Sealegs team manoeuvred closer until a crewman managed to hook the fuel line and lanyard, or “kill cord”, as Free Willy sped past.

The vessel came to a halt a few revolutions later; its fuel supply cut off and the kill cord also eventually dislodged as it was dragging the boat hook through the water behind it.

A crewman restarted Free Willy and delivered it back, unscathed, to a cold and shaken owner at Omokoroa boat ramp.

The kill cord, or ‘engine safety cut-out switch’ is a device used to stop the engine in the event of the helmsperson being thrown out of their seat.

It’s a length of cord or plastic wire connected to a kill switch on the engine or dashboard of the boat.

One end of the kill cord has a plastic collar to hold the switch open, the other has a clip, which can be attached directly to the helmsperson’s lifejacket, or made into a loop which is then passed around their wrist or thigh.

If the helmsperson is thrown from their seat by a sudden manoeuvre, such as hitting the back of a wave or a sudden loss of grip at the stern, the kill cord is pulled from the engine or dash, cutting the engine and preventing further injury from the spinning propeller.

But like a seatbelt in a car, it only works when it’s attached.


Comments on SunLive

Eighty Three Years Old?

Posted on 12-05-2016 13:57 | By big ted

This dude needs to read a new boating safety manual. He is too old to be in a boat by himself, let alone a tinny. At least take a mate for safety’s sake.
Water skier

Posted on 12-05-2016 11:41 | By FunandGames

Several years ago I witnessed a water skier behind a pilotless boat. The boat driver several hundred yards behind in the water. If memory serves me right the end of the lake resolved the issue for the water skier, while the driver had a long swim.
 
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