Port Credit Marine Survey
& Yacht Delivery
From Ontario, Canada

Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors

American Boat & Yacht Council


Hot Docks and electric shock drowning

In 1999, 8 year old Lucas Ritz was electrocuted while swimming in a fresh water marina. The coroner wrote it off as a drowning. Lucas' father didn't believe it and performed his own investigation. Kevin spent years educating himself and subsequent studies by Kevin and Captain (ret'd) David Rifkin USN found more than 200 reported "drowning" fatalities in fresh water marinas that were actually electrocutions.

This phenomenon is now known as "electric shock drowning" and is still ignored by most marinas. Essentially what happened was that a DC conductor melted against an AC conductor and fed AC current down the shaft into the water. I implore you to take the time to watch this video by Kevin Ritz who explains how faulty boat wiring caused his sons death. Captain David Rifkin a consultant to USCG, BoatUS® and ABYC® has much more information on this and other marine electrical issues on his website.

AC current can get into the water through faulty onboard wiring as in the Ritz example, faulty shorepower supply or simply because one of Darwins rejects unplugs his boat and leaves a live cord lying on the dock. All photos in the three columns below were taken on the docks around my own boat. at Port Credit Yacht Club. I've posted only a few of the over 50 photos I took within just a few minutes. Proof that common sense is anything but. common.

In my surveys I write more recommendations on electrical issues than any other area. When I point out an unsafe battery installation or explain why electrical equipment in a gasoline engine compartment must be ignition protected, most people seem to understand, they rarely actually fix it but I've done what I can. For some strange reason otherwise seemingly intelligent people do not grasp the importance of simple things like polarity indicators , G.F.C.I.'s or proper AC ground systems.

For more information on boats electrical AC and DC systems including battery installations and how to inspect them, I recommend you take a look at Marine Survey 101

Please do not take this stuff lightly.

Do not let your children walk by live power cords with bare feet.

Do not wash your boat near live
power cords

Do not let your children dangle their feet in the water near live cords.

Wallace Gouk
Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors AMS ret'd
ABYC® Standards Certified ret'd
ABYC® Certified Marine Corrosion ret'd
ABYC® Certified Marine Electrical ret'd
Transport Canada Licensed Master ret'd
Transport Canada Tonnage Measurer
BoatUS® Approved Marine Surveyor

A Marine Surveyor for Ontario from Mississauga, Toronto, Hamilton to Oshawa, Whitby, Newcastle, Pickering, Trenton, Kingston, Gananoque and beyond