Ok summer is almost over, but better late than never. BoatU.S. mentioned the dangers of stray electrical current in freshwater marinas in one of their newsletters this year (which I have finally got around to reading). Tragically, many children and some adults have died from Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) in freshwater marinas.
Well I admit I have swum – as a child and as a young adult – in freshwater at boat docks. But that was, well, many years ago on Lake Winnipeg. Back then there was no electricity at the public / government docks. (I’m not sure about the marinas, but I don’t recall it being a problem at Gimli Harbor.) ESD was not an issue then. Today however, all private marinas have electrical hookups for boats, and I think most of the larger public ones do as well. In order to make marinas safe, both the marina and EVERY boat in that marina would have to adopt certain safety standards. I’m not sure if this will ever happen! So to avoid any danger – don’t swim in marinas!
ESD is not generally a problem in ocean marinas, but there is a concern with marinas that have brackish water (a mix of salt and freshwater). Saltwater is more conductive than the human body and stray electricity does not cause the same affect in a saltwater marina. I’ve spotted adults swimming here in Blaine Marina and they were fine. However I still wouldn’t recommend swimming in a saltwater marina. While clean marinas are now the goal there are still pollutants that find their way into the water. Also there are boats coming and going, and their operators are not necessarily looking out for people in the water. More likely their gaze will be upwards, looking for other boats on the move.
Here is an article from Seaworthy, a BoatU.S. damage-avoidance publication. They recommend: when in doubt, stay out!
“Electric Shock Drowning – A Little Understood Hazard at Freshwater Boat Docks” http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/eline/shock0812.asp
So what to do if you want to go for a swim? Anchor out or go to the beach!