# 06 Kill cords … think about them!

Tony Le ElliottArticles

Automatic Craft Immobiliser,
that is what Kill-Cords are, as far as powered craft are concerned.

The correct fitting of the Kill-Cord is very important, especially in fast planing boats. These craft have the nasty recurring habit of running in anti-clockwise circles when at full speed round and round, passing the spot where helmsman go overboard.

I was witness to such a tragic and horrific accident back in the early seventies on a London reservoir when a father and son were thrown overboard from a RIB. The now illegal steering captive ball and socket linkage had parted company. The predictable full left lock is achieved by the propeller torque. Anyone who has not yet discovered how much easier it is to turn to the left rather than to the right when powered by a single outboard, should. Just take your hands off the wheel for a few seconds and most craft will try to turn to the left. If this happens then the sacrificial trim tab should be adjusted to the left a bit. Yes to the left! The tab does not steer, rather it receives more thrust from the prop to push it to the right.

As you may have guessed, unless you did not hear, this leads us all to consider the very sad accident that marred the last three days at a recent Southampton Boat Show. It was fatal and undoubtedly it was an accident that should never have happened. I believe that it occurred for four reasons. A novice driver not wearing the all-important Kill-Cord was, of course, the ultimate situation that was just asking for trouble.

It is also highly likely that on this occasion, the driver and passengers were not holding on tight enough as the throttle may have been thrown wide open. Then there is the question of whether the craft was set up correctly and suitable to take the power of the outboard. There is no doubt that smaller RIBs built with a sit-astride have a very high centre of gravity, needing more astute handling from the driver and awareness from the passengers. The now obligatory use of the Kill-Cord should come as naturally as it is for us all to wear seat belts in cars.

Slipping the Kill-Cord loop around one’s wrist or leg is just not good enough since other accidents this year have shown that the cord can slip off. It must be clipped onto the life jacket in such a way as not to foul the arms as they steer and control the craft. The ignition and spare keys, floating fobs and the like are not to be attached to this important cord which must have a free and uninterrupted pull at its button.

Views and comments on this can be directed to me at [email protected]