19' Boat Blows Up in a Driveway - 10/22/2008
An unidentified man in Everett, WA was severely injured recently while working on his 19’ sportboat. The boat was on a trailer in his driveway when fuel vapors exploded. “Fuel vapors ignited when the man tried to start the engine,” said Gary Bontrager, a fire investigator with the Snohomish County Fire Marshal's Office. Crews rushed the man to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett, and he was later taken to the Seattle trauma center.
Just to prove that powerboaters aren’t the only careless people blowing themselves
up on dry land - a man working on his sailboat at the Northside Marina in Dennis,
MA in May was severely burned from an explosion in his boat. Indications are that
an electrical spark ignited gasoline vapors in the cockpit of his dry-docked sailboat
It is reported that Name had earlier removed the vessel’s gasoline tank. He then went back into the cockpit. At that time, another man working nearby heard what he described as a “thump." At first he thought that the burned man had dropped something off his boat but then he heard screaming. He ran to the vessel and saw Name attempting to climb across to another boat in order to get the ground.
The witness grabbed his own ladder and used it to help him climb down. Name was able to walk the approximately 100 yards to the marina office area. An off-duty Yarmouth firefighter, Lt. Ken Huck, was in the area and helped attend to Name who was rushed into a cold shower. He was alert at the time and unaware of the severity of his injuries.
Capt. Steve says…
On every boat with an enclosed engine compartment there’s a little switch that should be your best friend. It’s labeled “Blower.” (There’s probably even a litigation-induced placard right on your dash stating that you should run your blower for at least four minutes before starting.) That’s it! Just flip a switch and wait four minutes.
Gasoline creates vapors. It can’t help it, that’s just what it does. It would be nice if those vapors just wafted out into the ether on their way to what’s left of the ozone layer, but alas, they’re heavier than air and thus settle nicely at the bottom of your bilge area, nestled around the engine with all its electrical attachments, just waiting for you to add a spark.
The Boss Says…
The Four-Minute Wait
Speaking as the guy who might be behind you at the fuel dock, if you don’t have four minutes to run your blower, how will you find the months required to lie in a hospital bed getting burned skin scraped from your face and neck?
Taking your boat off the trailer? Start the blower while you’re getting ready for the launch. Then you’re not waiting at the bottom of the ramp and having people yell at you to get going.
Fueling? Leave the blower going the whole time. Simple. Now you don’t have to wait four minutes, and you can be doing something more productive while it’s running.
In case you missed last year, here is BoatTEST.com’s primer on what to do after fueling your boat…
We’ve all seen people in a hurry when starting their boat, even after fueling. We
would like to hear from our readers who have observations and stories to tell…comments