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Old 08-18-2017, 01:20 PM   #1
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Electric Shock Drowning Prevention and ELCIs Explained

I recently posted an article on the subject of electric shock drowning. It's short and I believe a worthwhile read for all boat owners.

"In 2012 three cases of electrocution or electric shock drowning (more on that below) occurred over the Independence Day holiday. Tragically, they resulted in the deaths of four children, siblings Brayden and Alexandra Anderson 8 and 13 respectively, Noah Winstead, 10, and Nathan Lynam 11, and one adult, 26-year-old Jennifer Lankford. All of the events occurred on lakes, one in Tennessee and the two in Missouri. More recently, on April 20, 2017 three more cases occurred, in which 15-year old Carmen Johnson, 34-year-old Shelly Darling and 41-year-old Elizabeth Whipple were all killed while swimming in Alabama’s Lake Tuscaloosa. In June of this year..."

To read the remainder of this article visit Electric Shock Drowning and ELCIs Explained | Steve D'Antonio Marine Consulting
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Old 08-18-2017, 01:44 PM   #2
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Very interesting! Thanks for posting.

While we're discussing water safety, this book left a serious impression on me:

Suddenly Overboard: True Stories of Sailors in Fatal Trouble, by Tom Lachhass
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Old 08-18-2017, 01:48 PM   #3
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Fascinating article Steve.
Better "safe than sorry", I've always avoided going into the water at any dock without understanding why. Now I have an inkling of understanding...
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Old 08-18-2017, 02:14 PM   #4
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Huh. Interesting read for sure. I'll look into those ELCIs.

I know a lot of people clean their own boats. I'd be interested to hear of who here has "felt electricity coursing through their dental fillings". I've cleaned 20 or so boats, including our own, and swam around a LOT of docks and can't say I've encountered this phenomena. I guess im's usually in salt or brackish water...

I would think salt water would have more deaths than fresh. Anyone have any guesses as to why? theres a more direct path to ground?
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Old 08-18-2017, 02:25 PM   #5
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Great read Steve. Thanks you for posting it Mate.


Cheers.


H.
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Old 08-18-2017, 03:08 PM   #6
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Huh. Interesting read for sure. I'll look into those ELCIs.

I know a lot of people clean their own boats. I'd be interested to hear of who here has "felt electricity coursing through their dental fillings". I've cleaned 20 or so boats, including our own, and swam around a LOT of docks and can't say I've encountered this phenomena. I guess im's usually in salt or brackish water...

I would think salt water would have more deaths than fresh. Anyone have any guesses as to why? theres a more direct path to ground?
Exactly correct inbrespect to path to ground. Salt water is more conductive than the human body, therefore electricity goes straight to ground in the water.

In fresh water, the body is nore conductive than the water so the electricity takes the easier path through the body.

Not perfect, but it hapoens and thats the VERY basic explanation.
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Old 08-18-2017, 04:14 PM   #7
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So what about the case of the elci getting wired in after the galvanic isolator?

Does it still detect shore ground faults? Or does it need to?
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Old 08-18-2017, 05:10 PM   #8
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I think only the hot(s) and neutral get wired to the ELCI.

It trips if the difference in current going back out of the boat versus what is coming in is more than 30 miliamps...

The grounds shouldn't matter if I under stand it correctly. If you are bleeding energy into a ground before or after the isolator, it will trip either way.
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:10 PM   #9
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LOL, I guess I should have taken the time to look at how I wired mine. Yeesh.
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Old 08-18-2017, 07:11 PM   #10
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Exactly correct inbrespect to path to ground. Salt water is more conductive than the human body, therefore electricity goes straight to ground in the water.

In fresh water, the body is nore conductive than the water so the electricity takes the easier path through the body.

Not perfect, but it hapoens and thats the VERY basic explanation.
Maybe a very basic explanation, but also very correct.
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Old 08-18-2017, 07:13 PM   #11
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Maybe a very basic explanation, but also very correct.
Yes
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Old 08-18-2017, 09:56 PM   #12
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I bought my boat in the PNW, at Edmonds. One day the marina called me and said that they had received a complaint from a guy further down the dock about rapidly depleting zinc anodes, so they tested power to all the boats on the dock. Mine was the problem.

So I engaged a local service provider, and he quickly established that it was a serious problem. With a bunch of electrical stuff operating I managed to draw 30A from the shore power pedestal. The active wire showed 30 A but he measured only 15 A on the neutral! There was 15 A returning via the water! Fortunately no incidents, at least while I owned the boat but the PO had kept the boat on Lake Union for a time. Perhaps the problem only arose late in his period of ownership when he added a second generator, and he had only been in saltwater since that time.

The issue was very difficult to solve. There was a jumper from neutral to earth on the Krauss & Naimar 'shorepower-gen1-gen2-off' switch that was only visible using a small mirror on an extendable stalk. I surmise that whoever installed the second genny, and the new Kraus & Naimar switch, basically did not know what they were doing!

I had the Port Townsend Shipwright's CoOp refit my boat, and part of that was adding in 230 VAC 50Hz inverter and circuits. They were the one's who solved the issue I described above as well. As part of the electrical work I purchased the Australia and New Zealand Standard applicable to boats and marinas. It specified ELCI in the shore supply. I also have an isolation transformer. Boat electrics should always be done right, by qualified and experienced professionals.
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Old 08-18-2017, 11:25 PM   #13
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We just had our docks tested by a master Electrician who is also a member of our club. We found 4 areas that were suspect where current was detected near our aluminum safety ladders and turned off the 4 nearest boats at each until we isolated the problem vessels. The floating shock alert sensor is easy to use and only $150 at home depot. A must have for any Club or Marina especially in fresh water.

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Old 08-19-2017, 04:47 AM   #14
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Steve,
Could the ELCI be installed on the dock pedestal, and would that work adequately?
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:52 AM   #15
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Docks are supposed to have them too.

But like most newer building codes..... it depends on where you sre when the upgrade must take place.
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:32 AM   #16
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The floating shock alert sensor is easy to use and only $150 at home depot. A must have for any Club or Marina especially in fresh water.


Wow ... what a great, small tool that is easy to carry with you for testing! Added to my list for when kids are wanting to swim!
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:13 AM   #17
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WOW!!! Where in the world is industry going with buzz words.

GFI-------ground fault interrupt.............which most everybody understands

ELCI------equipment leakage current interrupter

RCD------residual current device

RCBO----residual current breaker with overload protection



CRAZY!!!! All variations of a GFI. Wait awhile, somebody is sure to respond with something such as: "no sir, you don't understand. The benefits provided by the C$%B apply only to ....." Again---crazy
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:25 AM   #18
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I'm not so sure it is so crazy.
Very few people understand ac power systems yet we all use it.
There was even a joke made about wiring in this thread (tongue in cheek???).
The reality is that this is no joking matter and people die from electrocution regularly.
I've seen things in ac boat wiring that made my hair stand on end!
No, I am ok with the safety devices on our boat.
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Old 08-19-2017, 12:25 PM   #19
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Virtually all electric shock drownings occur in freshwater. It is essentially unheard of in saltwater.

That said, I believe I speak for all hull cleaners when I say we appreciate your concern and attention to your onboard and shorepower electrical systems.
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:58 PM   #20
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Docks are supposed to have them too.

But like most newer building codes..... it depends on where you sre when the upgrade must take place.
Yes, and the way many boats are getting cleaned up is that docks have them and the boat can't connect. You see this more and more in South Florida.
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