Convenient, affordable and possibly a life-saver.
It’s a captain’s worst nightmare, falling overboard and watching helplessly as the boat continues under power. Even if you haven’t seen it yourself, we’ve all at least heard stories of boats slowly circling or running dead ahead at high speed, but with no operator at the helm.
You can make sure this never happens to you by wearing your engine kill switch lanyard. Be sure to test this device every few trips to confirm it is working.
If you’re the forgetful sort, or you need to move about the boat, as when trolling, there are solutions in the wireless electronics realm.
Several companies manufacture small, unobtrusive sensors that when worn, will allow the captain and passengers to freely move about the vessel. Should one of you fall overboard, a shipboard
alarm sounds and shuts down your engine. I found two companies producing a variety of devices that will get the job done.
Autotether’s basic wireless lanyard system is battery operated and easy to install. An operator and up to three passengers can be monitored simultaneously.
The host unit mounts on a flat surface near your OEM kill switch using preinstalled locking strips. Once mounted you simply replace the OEM kill switch clip with the Autotether host clip. Six AAA batteries power the host unit. Each personal sensor is powered by 3 AAA batteries.
If the operator’s sensor is separated from the host by more than about 100 feet or submerged in water, an alarm will sound and the engine will be shut down. Should a passenger sensor activate, only the alarm will sound while keeping the engine running to allow the helmsman to maneuver back for a pickup.
Both operator and passenger sensors have a manual alarm and shutdown activation pushbutton. Autotether also makes a wireless lanyard system host unit that can be powered by your vessel electrical system. With one personal operator sensor the Autotether wireless lanyard system sells for $299. Extra sensors are $69 each. The unit carries a 1-year warranty.
Cast Advantage for Sport and Tournament
The CAST wireless lanyard system from Maritech Industries uses a host unit that interfaces directly with your boat’s ignition wiring to shut down the engine should the system alarm activate.
Color coded wiring on the unit makes installation relatively simple. CAST personal sensors cause an alarm and engine shut down when submerged in the water. Should you wish to restart the engine to perform a passenger pickup you would activate the rescue mode. This allows an engine restart while continuing the aural alarm. CAST with one sensor sells for $149. Additional sensors cast $45 each. The CAST system is designed solely for single outboard applications.
For other applications check out the Virtual Lifeline wireless lanyard system from Maritech. Various models of this system cover every application from single outboard to quads to inboard powered vessels. Prices range from $249 to $719.
Anglers fishing alone should consider one of these systems appropriate for your boat. This is especially important for small boat operators running flats or bay boats. According to CG statistics the vast majority of overboard accidents occur on boats smaller than 20 feet. FS