USCG Announces New Engine Cut-off Switch Law

Publish date:

As of April 1, 2021, operators of recreational vessels less than 26 feet in length will be required to use the engine cut-off switch link under certain circumstances, as the U.S. Coast Guard implements a 2018 federal law.

Each year, people are injured or killed when operators fall or get ejected from their boats. The boats will either continue on course until they run out of fuel, or may eventually strike an operator in what is called the “circle of death.” “A circle of death” is caused by the rotation of the propeller, which can send the boat into an ever-tightening turn, eventually running over the operator or other occupants who may have been ejected from the vessel.

An engine cut-off link, which can be a lanyard or a fob, connects the vessel operator to a switch that shuts the engine off if the operator is displaced from the helm. Physical lanyards are designed to disengage from the engine cut-off switch and shut the motor down when the operator falls from the vessel. Wireless links use an electronic fob that is carried by the operator and activates the cut-off switch remotely when it is submerged in water.

The 2018 law requires that manufacturers of new recreational boats of less than 26 feet LOA with an engine capable of at least 3 horsepower be equipped with an engine cut-off switch. This feature has been in place on many vessels for decades, but as of 2019 it is a federal requirement. Since the wireless technology has become available, some manufacturers have also begun to install wireless engine cut-off switch links as optional or standard equipment.

Since the overwhelming majority of recreational vessels already have an engine cut-off switch, compliance has been the biggest problem. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2021 now obligates recreational vessel operators of vessels under 26-feet LOA to use the engine cut-off link under certain circumstances.

According to the new requirement, “the engine cut-off links must be used when the primary helm is not within an enclosed cabin, and when the boat is operating on plane or above displacement speed.” Some situations where the engine cut-off link will not be required include docking, trailering, trolling and operating in no-wake zones.

Seven states already have engine cut-off switch laws for traditional recreational vessels, and 44 states already have engine cut-off switch laws for personal watercraft (PWC).

For more detailed information, go to the USCG website.



Wireless Kill Switch

Autotether’s marine wireless system is built to instantly cut the outboard engine when the operator falls overboard or is separated from the boat by more than 150 feet.

Screen Shot 2021-03-18 at 3.07.35 PM

Nordhavn Announces Two New Models

The N625 and N71 will update the builder’s line with two sleeker, more modern models that will also have more standard features


NTSB: Operator and USCG at Fault for 2018 Duck Boat Deaths

The Board said the operator ignored weather warnings and the Coast Guard failed to implement safety recommendations after an eerily similar tragedy in 1999.


Texas governor signs kill-switch law

The bill is called “Kali’s Law,” after 16-year-old Kali Gorzell died in a 2012 boating accident in Port Aransas, Texas.


Unconscious Man Rescued from Runaway Boat

First responders managed to intercept the circling boat and disable its engine.


Too Close for Comfort

NASA cites the dangers created when recreational boaters approached the SpaceX capsule after splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

Screen Shot 2021-03-30 at 9.59.59 AM

Onne’s New Goose: A New Breaker Panel

For the electronics on his Grand Banks 32, Onne gets a little help from his friends


Onne’s New Goose: Putting Wires Through the Deck

Onne van der Wal finds a cool little product to put wires through the deck of his Grand Banks 32 without causing leaks