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View Full Version : Electricity in Marina Water - a tragic story


bobx1
11-24-2009, 02:29 PM
A friend of mine sent this link and thought I would post. It is a story of a child being electrocuted while swimming in a fresh water marina. It is a long article but found this statistic from the article incredible:

“Some time after Lucas’s death, two Multnomah County River Deputies and I conducted a random sampling of 50 boats in three freshwater marinas in the Portland area. We found 13 boats leaking potentially lethal electrical current into the water. A ratio of 26 percent of faulty boat wiring leads one to wonder if the number of reported electrical deaths in freshwater is only the tip of the iceberg. If you have any doubts about your boat, it should be inspected by an ABYC-certified technician. Do not depend on an electrician with experience only on land. Let’s boat safely and save lives.”

Here is the link to the full article:

http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/kritz.asp

flipper
11-24-2009, 02:42 PM
Never herd of this before. Thanks for the info

helton333
11-24-2009, 04:05 PM
I have felt some mild shock swimming in the rear of a houseboat where the generator is - but it is mild - never heard anything about this. 12 V could never do this. We're talking about a dock power issue???

east tx skier
11-24-2009, 04:18 PM
I have heard of boats stored in a marina near here undergoing a good deal of corrosion as a result of this sort of thing. Sad story.

Jim@BAWS
11-24-2009, 04:29 PM
After reading that article all I did was tear up. How preventable, how tragic. That little boy
was born the same year as my son. Unfortunalty I know how the father feels. Very Very sad

Jim@BAWS

FrankSchwab
11-24-2009, 04:36 PM
I have felt some mild shock swimming in the rear of a houseboat where the generator is - but it is mild - never heard anything about this. 12 V could never do this. We're talking about a dock power issue???

Sounds like 120V coming from the dock was the source of the issue in this case.

I don't know if an onboard generator could cause this problem; the 120V from it would be isolated from earth ground, so there's no particular reason for current to flow outside the boat. I suppose if neutral was exposed to water in one location on the boat, and the hot was exposed in a different location, you might have a current path/voltage gradient that could cause this problem.

/frank

ahhudgins
11-25-2009, 12:48 AM
First off, I'm truely sorry for their lose and I can't imagine how they must feel. Secondly, what Frankswab said is correct about the AC current flowing outside the boat. I won't go into all of the technical issues, but a LOT of the "tests" in this story make no sense. I've been an electronics technician for 25 years and I repair the "Electro Fishers" for the Game Departments. The Electro Fishers are used to shock up fish by placing one probe about 8 feet away from the hull of the boat and when a fish swims directly BETWEEN the probe and hull, he completes the current path. Even if the hot side of 120V AC was directly shorted to the 12V ground, the neutral (or ground) of the 120V AC would have to be placed in the water also, and within a reasonable distance. A person would then have to swim directly between those two points. If the child was within a few feet of the boat in question, AND the water was very shallow, it is possible that the current could flow from the boat, through the child, to the lake bottom (earth ground). He just said that the boat in question "..was in the area at that time.." 6 ft, 20 ft, 100 ft? What ever the cause, GFIs should ALWAYS be placed on outside outlets and around water, they DO save lives.

FrankSchwab
11-25-2009, 02:27 AM
Helton333, if you are feeling "a mild shock" swimming in the water around your generator, you need to get it resolved before you go swimming again. You are playing with fire, dude.

/frank