WakeWorld (http://www.wakeworld.com/forum/index.php)
-   Boats, Accessories & Tow Vehicles (http://www.wakeworld.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=3183)
-   -   Caution Swimming Around Un Known Docks or Boats (http://www.wakeworld.com/forum/showthread.php?t=794295)

ktrent 07-05-2012 12:20 PM

Caution Swimming Around Un Known Docks or Boats
I usually don't make post like this but I think everyone should be aware of electric shock, even after being around lakes my entire life this is the 1st I have heard of a case like this even though I am sure its happened way too many times. On Cherokee Lake, in TN a 10 year old boy has lost his life way way way too early from electric shock from swimming near house boats at a marina, another boy is on life support from the shock, and a few more rescuers where hospitalized from the shock. This sad story really hit home for me as a father of 2 girls that swim with their friends at our dock all the time. I have heard the shock came from a nearby house boat but am not for sure about this. It has reminded me to keep a close check on our GFI plugs and breakers at and around our dock, and at best I hope it stays in the back of everyones heads to caution swimming around marinas or unknown docks or boats. I can't imagine being in the children's family and having to go through the heart aches and loss.

I don't want this post to become a big debate on this topic, rather just to be a reminder of the unseen dangers our lakes have. Please let all or your boating and lake friends know the dangers that are present. After some research on the topic I have found this to be much worse in fresh water over salt water so that means it effects us the lake and river boaters the most.

Thanks for your time and please keep the families and people involved in your prayers and may God give peace to the parents of the lost child.

baitkiller 07-05-2012 12:27 PM

Thank you for the reminder. It actually happens quite often.
House boats get wired like houses, not boats.
Sad. Very sad.

srock 07-05-2012 1:10 PM

Heartbreaking. I know of a similar story with a boat lift switch and a wet hand. I swim, as does my small son, around shore power and generator powered craft. I cannot fathom the loss of a child.

It worth discussing; how can you "be careful"? Is there some sort of warning? Can you just stick your feet in for a tingle to test the water? Do you have to touch the craft or does a large body of water dissipate the charge? I would think shore power itself could be an issue as well.

ktrent 07-05-2012 1:16 PM

i have been shocked by a faulty lift switch, not bad but enough for a good scare. i know it made me make a trip to lowes and get a new GFI plug for the dock and lift.

ridemarktwain 07-05-2012 1:50 PM


Two kids died this week at the Lake of the Ozarks from electrocution. Its horrible to hear these stories. Thanks for the reminder.

CarFanatic5 07-05-2012 2:00 PM

ya, what is the way to check these things?

psudy 07-05-2012 2:29 PM

When I was a kid, my brother and I were swimming off the back of a house boat when my dad plugged it into shore power(in slip). as we approached the ladder we both lost movement and I was able to get out a short scream. Luckly he was still right there and unplugged it. I always thought it was just a funny story until I read the lake of the Ozark story this morning and realized how lucky we were.

srock 07-05-2012 2:37 PM

Another awful reminder.

GFI's are one thing but who knows about the wiring leading up to that point on most docks. I know my dock system is properly protected but it sounds like there could be a demand for some sort of simple current tester/warning device. I see places where there are multiple docks and boats with large shore power systems but I cannot help to think most end users think maintenance is some other guys issue. Especially on leased docks.

ridemarktwain 07-05-2012 2:40 PM

I was discussing this with the other engineers in our office, and we couldn't think of an easy way to check. If you own a dock all power should be protected with a GFCI device (at panel or at the receptacle). A GFCI device will trip if there is an inbalance in the amount of current leaving on the "hot" wire and returning on the "nuetral" wire. An inbalace it means a portion of the electrical current is finding a differnet path back to the electrical service, if this path is through the water there is potential for electrical shock.

pprior 07-05-2012 3:12 PM

Never even thought of this before. Wow how sad. I would think something would short out if there was a live water in the water....

corbin86 07-05-2012 4:23 PM

This is no joke guys my unkle had his life cut way short at the age or 25 when some one had live power going into the lake near buy. a dog jumped in the water and as he saw the dog drounding from electicution he dove into save the dog not knowing the lake was full of electricity and lost his life also. make you really think twice about mixing electricity and water. happy boating this weekend guys

ktrent 07-05-2012 7:49 PM


Originally Posted by ridemarktwain (Post 1765071)
I was discussing this with the other engineers in our office, and we couldn't think of an easy way to check. If you own a dock all power should be protected with a GFCI device (at panel or at the receptacle). A GFCI device will trip if there is an inbalance in the amount of current leaving on the "hot" wire and returning on the "nuetral" wire. An inbalace it means a portion of the electrical current is finding a differnet path back to the electrical service, if this path is through the water there is potential for electrical shock.

I have a GFCI at the location where my dock gets power from land and also on the dock at the power plug for lift and accessories. I am thinking of adding a GFCI breaker to the circuit as well just for added protection after hearing the news. If someone could think of something to monitor the water around commercial docks that would be awesome.

I think that the reason the water doesn't kick a standard breaker is due to no grounding source. I read in salt water this is not as bad of a issue.

Raf1985 07-05-2012 9:14 PM

How far does electricity travel in the water? Say if I dump an extension at the dock, will it go more than 100 feet?

brett564 07-06-2012 1:55 AM

I've heard of this for a while but besides resisting swimming off the backs of houseboats in docks, is there any other common denominator? Is that just the rule to live by? In all of WW there has to be some kind of expert in this?

Dave, do you have any expert contacts?

srock 07-06-2012 6:38 AM

I often see GFI's on the dock but in reality there should be some protection back at the panel on shore. I had 220 run to my dock panel to prevent voltage drop and a 50 amp plug with no protection. All the marina pedestals are basically the same. Throw in a boat with a ground problem I see the opportunity for a problem.

Seems like it would be easy to create a device that has a couple probes into the water and a horn if it detects current.

chris4x4gill2 07-06-2012 6:53 AM

Several years ago, we rented a house on the lake. I jumped off the dock, and then went to climb the ladder to get out. when I touched the metal dock ladder, I got a nasty shock.

We found the breaker in the house and cut power to the dock for the rest of the time there (it was a standard breaker, no GFI's that I could find.

Now that we have our own place, my dock power splits off from the main house at a breaker box. The line to the dock is on a GFI breaker. Once it enters the dock, there is a second breaker box with three GFI breakers (Lights, Outlets, Boat Lift). Hopefully I have all of my bases covered becasue we have several small children that swim from the dock all fo the time.

stickdood 07-06-2012 7:46 AM

As an Electrical Contractor in FL you wont believe how many stories I hear about these things. Very, Very sad. I know of a story where a sub division was built and a man made lake was dug in the middle. Not knowing that the power company installed their feeder wires right where they dug the lake. Well over time the wire became weak and voltage started to leak out into the lake. 3 kids ranging from 12-17 jumped off their dock like they have always done for years. The first 2 were electrocuted and killed instantly. The 3rd saw that something was wrong and went to go get help. There was no boat lift, no light, and no receptacle on the dock. No electricity on the dock at all. The power company fixed the problem right away. But so scary of something that happened that's probably a 1 : 5,000,000,000,000 chance. Please everyone be careful when swimming around docks, marina's, and house boat's. Electricity is something that is very serious and should always be treated with respect. And Please is you own a dock, please get a licensed Electrical Contractor out to do any electrical work. Please do not try to do it yourself.

pprior 07-06-2012 11:16 AM

So Joe, can you explain the couple questions above: 1) why does a circuit not break when current going into the water - it's an infinite load, right? 2) how far will electricity travel in the water? I appreciate your expertise and your advice.

wake77 07-07-2012 8:09 AM

^Use the inverse square law to answer your second question. Underwater at 2 feet, you will only have 1/4 of the voltage. At 3, it will only be 1/9, and so on and so forth. So you can see that electricity dissipates rather quickly across large bodies of water. But it is not possible to say at 10 ft from a source you will be killed and 15 ft you will be safe. That hinges on the size of the source and your proximity.

But it is the difference in voltages that causes you bodily harm, not the voltage itself. If you have a larger voltage gradient, the more effects you will feel from the voltage.

srock 07-07-2012 9:20 AM

Why is this happening with house boats at docks. I get the aluminum ladder.

duramat 07-07-2012 12:16 PM

Grab one of these and check your outlets to see/test outlets on GFI's. Id seriously consider changing all convenience outlets on the houseboat for GFI's or anywhere near the water.


Id also consider changing any other circuits for GFI breakers anywhere near/.close to water (lights, light poles)

Joe is right! Get licensed electricin who knows what the hell they are doing and not tackle this yourself. The guy who reads the Time Life How to books then tackles installing it are the ones who scare me. They know enough....enough to get someone hurt cause they think its fine and works. Ive cursed many times fixing the problems of amatures that could have burnt stuff/killed people

Shawn 07-07-2012 5:29 PM

My neighbor in Discovery Bay rebuilt and rewired his dock on his own a few years ago and something shorted out when he plugged in the shore power cable to his offshore fishing boat. Nealy electrocuted his kid when he jumped in the water by the boat. I was amazed nothing tripped a breaker. Sounds way too common of a problem.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 3:21 AM.