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Engine kill switches on narrowboats?


Jacsprat
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As a newbie single-hander using rivers and canals, I've had paranoid fantasies of tumbling off the back of my boat and watching it disappear into the horizon with my dog watching gleefully from the rear. Not to mention being minced by the prop if I get caught up. Has anyone fitted a corded engine kill switch? Is it even possible? I've done a search here on the topic, but zilch comes up.

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26 minutes ago, Jacsprat said:

As a newbie single-hander using rivers and canals, I've had paranoid fantasies of tumbling off the back of my boat and watching it disappear into the horizon with my dog watching gleefully from the rear. Not to mention being minced by the prop if I get caught up. Has anyone fitted a corded engine kill switch? Is it even possible? I've done a search here on the topic, but zilch comes up.

Anything of course is possible (just about!)

 

It would certainly be possible to adapt a kill switch as often fitted to lumpy water boats, often 'speed boats' and ribs. Most though rely on 'killing the power' to the ignition circuit which of course a diesel doesn't have. If your boat is petrol powered, say a GRP cruiser, much easier to do.

 

I think it's over kill (no pun intended) on a NB though.

 

 

 

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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17 minutes ago, Jacsprat said:

As a newbie single-hander using rivers and canals, I've had paranoid fantasies of tumbling off the back of my boat and watching it disappear into the horizon with my dog watching gleefully from the rear. Not to mention being minced by the prop if I get caught up. Has anyone fitted a corded engine kill switch? Is it even possible? I've done a search here on the topic, but zilch comes up.

It would be possible, on engines with a fuel solenoid powered to run, fairly easily. Few and far between now.

On engines with a powered to stop solenoid, like all Beta engines, a bit more involved.

On boats with a mechanical stop cable, involved.

 

But is it really needed? The chances of getting chopped by the blade is minimal unless you are reversing or for some reason thrashing in a lock.

Could you train the dog to stop or to steer? Or would the dog be even more gleeful if it could cruise alone?

 

TD'  

 

 

 

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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5 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

It would be possible, on engines with a fuel solenoid powered to run, fairly easily. Few and far between now.

On engines with a powered to stop solenoid, like all Beta engines, a bit more involved.

On boats with a mechanical stop cable, involved.

 

But is it really needed? The chances of getting chopped by the blade is minimal unless you are reversing or for some reason thrashing in a lock.

Could you train the dog to stop or to steer? Or would the dog be even more gleeful if it could cruise alone?

 

TD'  

 

 

 

She would indeed be gleeful until it came time to have her dinner...

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12 minutes ago, Jacsprat said:

She would indeed be gleeful until it came time to have her dinner...

Ah, can't manage a can opener then.

Our GSD, a monster, was quite adept at opening cans, he just bit the top off.

 

I have not fallen off the back of a canal boat, yet. But for some reason I feel more secure on a small trad deck than on a big open cruiser stern.

Best of all is to sit on the roof with a longish tiller, doing the Pontcysyllte aqueduct with your back to the drop!

 

TD'

 

 

 

Edited by Tracy D'arth
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32 minutes ago, Jacsprat said:

As a newbie single-hander using rivers and canals, I've had paranoid fantasies of tumbling off the back of my boat and watching it disappear into the horizon with my dog watching gleefully from the rear. Not to mention being minced by the prop if I get caught up. Has anyone fitted a corded engine kill switch? Is it even possible? I've done a search here on the topic, but zilch comes up.

I was having exactly the same thoughts for the same reasons (minus the dog - even he wouldn't save me). As @Tracy D'arth said you would likely need to use something with with a positive switch to parallel the regular engine stop switch.  I wondered if something like this might work.

 

https://www.asap-supplies.com/chromed-brass-ignition-cut-off-switch-744324

 

I know it is a very unlikely occurrence to fall off, but on the other hand, if you browse through the threads, plenty of folks are pointing out the relative 'frequency' of freak accidents that end in disaster.

 

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1 minute ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Best of all is to sit on the roof with a longish tiller, doing the pontcysyllte aqueduct with your back to the drop!

Or stand on the towpath side and hop off if things get too hairy! ?

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If you are boating single handed I guarentee you will forget to disconnect the kill switch when getting off to do locks and forget to reconnect when getting on. It will be a massive pain in the bum and after the first day it will never be used again.

People falling off and dying does happen, but is very rare. Usually as has been mentioned, getting drawn in to a reversing prop in a lock.

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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23 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

It would be possible, on engines with a fuel solenoid powered to run, fairly easily. Few and far between now.

On engines with a powered to stop solenoid, like all Beta engines, a bit more involved.

On boats with a mechanical stop cable, involved.

 

But is it really needed? The chances of getting chopped by the blade is minimal unless you are reversing or for some reason thrashing in a lock.

Could you train the dog to stop or to steer? Or would the dog be even more gleeful if it could cruise alone?

 

TD'  

 

 

 

As I'm on the Avon at the moment, my worry is more that the boat continues without me than I am worried about getting the chop from the prop. That said, If a person tries to haul themselves back onto the boat, probably best the prop isn't spinning!

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1 minute ago, Tracy D'arth said:

Ah, can't manage a can opener then.

Our GSD, a monster, was quite adept at opening cans, he just bit the top off.

 

I have not fallen off the back of a canal boat, yet. But for some reason I feel more secure on a small trad deck than on a big open cruiser stern.

Best of all is to sit on the roof with a longish tiller, doing the Pontcysyllte aqueduct with your back to the drop!

 

TD'

 

 

 

 

Yes I prefer trad and semi-trad sterns to cruisers from a safety aspect.

 

If you accidentally step too far back you fall in the cut feet first. I once saw someone move back on a cruiser stern, have there legs knocked from under them and be tipped into the cut. Fortunately the boat was moored at the time and I suspect alcohol may have been involved.

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9 minutes ago, Standedge said:

I was having exactly the same thoughts for the same reasons (minus the dog - even he wouldn't save me). As @Tracy D'arth said you would likely need to use something with with a positive switch to parallel the regular engine stop switch.  I wondered if something like this might work.

 

https://www.asap-supplies.com/chromed-brass-ignition-cut-off-switch-744324

 

I know it is a very unlikely occurrence to fall off, but on the other hand, if you browse through the threads, plenty of folks are pointing out the relative 'frequency' of freak accidents that end in disaster.

 

In theory that would work but the other thing I can think of is the length of the lanyard. Quite often you actually want to move about the boat/gunwales (particularly as a single hander) or get off the thing. The engine would stop each time unless you unclipped it (rendering it useless). Yes you could easily lengthen the lanyard but then you are into setting up a whole new hazard of it catching on something as you move about, or even worse tripping and falling of the boat!

Edited by The Happy Nomad
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3 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

If you are boating single handed I guarentee you will forget to disconnect the kill switch when getting off to do locks and forget to reconnect when getting on. It will be a massive pain in the bum and after the first day it will never be used again.

People falling off and dying does happen, but is very rare. Usually as has been mentioned, getting drawn in to a reversing prop in a lock.

Yup - not worried about dying really, just the boat taking off without me. A wrist strap and cord for the kill switch is very easy to remove and put back on. In any case, I'm sure I wouldn't use it all the time - just on rivers perhaps.

 

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1 minute ago, The Happy Nomad said:

In theory that would work but the other thing I can think of is the length of the lanyard. Quite often you actually want to move about the boat/gunwales or get off the thing. The engine would stop each time unless you unclipped it (rendering it useless). Yes you could easily lengthen the lanyard but then you are into setting up a whole new hazard of it catching on something as you move about, or even worse tripping and falling of the boat!

This indeed is a good point. I had only thought about situations when you are standing steering.

 

Although @Jacsprat's point about only using it when required is also a way of using it..

Edited by Standedge
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2 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

In theory that would work but the other thing I can think of is the length of the lanyard. Quite often you actually want to move about the boat/gunwales or get off the thing. The engine would stop each time unless you unclipped it (rendering it useless). Yes you could easily lengthen the lanyard but then you are into setting up a whole new hazard of it catching on something as you move about, or even worse tripping and falling of the boat!

I used kill switches plenty on quads, jet skis and small boats - attached to a lanyard and wrist strap, it's very phaff-free to simply slide it off your wrist leaving the engine running and you free to move about without it. 

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6 minutes ago, The Happy Nomad said:

In theory that would work but the other thing I can think of is the length of the lanyard. Quite often you actually want to move about the boat/gunwales (particularly as a single hander) or get off the thing. The engine would stop each time unless you unclipped it (rendering it useless). Yes you could easily lengthen the lanyard but then you are into setting up a whole new hazard of it catching on something as you move about, or even worse tripping and falling of the boat!

There speaks a man who has probably never used one.

 

They are 'curly cords and extend to about 6 feet - pretty much long enough to go wandering about on the back of a NB

Just un-hook as you step off.

 

This (£3) one is just over 5 feet extended.

 

s-l1600.jpg

 

Edited by Alan de Enfield
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On a river, it will carry on till it gets caught in trees, runs aground on the bank, or on a weir barrier. Your immediate problem is getting to the bank without drowning and wearing a lifejacket is a much better idea. Getting to wherever the boat has got to is a problem for later. You are worrying about a miniscule risk and the solution introduces new hazards. A boat where the engine is stopped on a river is still out of control. Your chances of being able to board a narrowboat in the water is small when wearing wet clothes, even with the boarding steps that modern shells have.

Jen

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Just now, Alan de Enfield said:

There speaks a man who has probably never used one.

You are of course completely wrong.

 

But as I've said in my previous post the OP should just go for it.

1 minute ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

On a river, it will carry on till it gets caught in trees, runs aground on the bank, or on a weir barrier. Your immediate problem is getting to the bank without drowning and wearing a lifejacket is a much better idea. Getting to wherever the boat has got to is a problem for later. You are worrying about a miniscule risk and the solution introduces new hazards. A boat where the engine is stopped on a river is still out of control. Your chances of being able to board a narrowboat in the water is small when wearing wet clothes, even with the boarding steps that modern shells have.

Jen

Spot on advice.

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Possible? Yes. Practical? No.

You need to get on and off the boat at locks etc. If you just leave the kill switch key in place without the lanyard attached to your wrist you might as well not bother. There are a few MAIB accident reports where boaters have been criticised for doing just this, and people have died as a result.

If you fall off the back of a narrow boat, let it carry on. You may well be able to stand up and wade to the bank, but if it is too deep it is a pretty short swim, even on rivers (and if you are not confident of your swimming ability, wear a life jacket on deeper waters). The boat will come into the bank on its own at some point. Then you have time to consider how you are going to reboard. 

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Kill switch lanyards are used on boats where the risk of falling, or getting thrown off is high. Speed boats and jetskis. They are fast machines and an out of control one is a major hazard to you and others. They are also mostly in open water, where you want to be able to swim to the now stopped boat, rather than to shore. They are also easy to board from the water and the chances are you will be wearing a wetsuit as well as a life jacket. None of these are the case with a narrowboat on a river, with the exception of life jackets and possibly a wetsuit, if that is your kink! ?

Edited by Jen-in-Wellies
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