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Boaters

Running Engines Shock Warning Following Tragedy.

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This was Issued following the recent tragedy at Wroxham.it is something most of us have done at some time I imagine.To have it happen on a June day is of concern  .should there be stronger rules regarding this practice.Very sad that this was  the cause of this terrible event.

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/broads_carbon_monoxide_deaths_tragedy_triggers_urgent_warning_from_investigators_1_4649367

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Not so long ago I was on my boat in the marina where I moor with the back door open and the roof in the centre cockpit area fully open. I was with a friend and we were standing in the open area drinking coffee when a boat on the next main pontoon along, about 100ft away started their engines and were getting ready to leave the marina. The wind must have been blowing their exhaust fumes straight towards my boat because within a minute or so, my carbon monoxide alarm in the saloon within about 5 ft of the open back door was going crazy.

Good to know my alarm worked, and makes you think how if the roof had been up and only the back door open, and I had been at a mooring with a boat directly behind me running it's engines. The problem is that a lot of the modern boats are now fitted with generators designed to be run at moorings to power the electric oven, kettle etc. These generators still produce carbon monoxide.

 

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I think their really must be some sort of risk assessment made into this practice. This surely is a wake-up call. You might with a breeze on you bow be just fine but you have just killed the family moored at your stern.

Apart from it being anti-social as well.

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Just heard on the BBC aspokesman from Barnes. Brinkcraft saying they have Carbon Monoxide detectors on all their boats and it was said maybe that should be required for all boats to obtain  the safety certificate.?

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I recently watched a boat making fast at the OB Yacht Station, nothing unreasonable in that but the skipper kept its motors running whilst fenders were adjusted, springs etc rigged, indeed the engines ran for some considerable time after the boat first made fast. I commented to Paul the Harbour Master about it, he replied that it was increasingly becoming common practice indeed half an hour was not unusual.

I was stood next to the Admiral when the boat next door to his prepared to leave, the same procedure and time scale in reverse, the Admiral's windows open, his boat quickly saturated in exhaust fumes. If three minutes is all it takes then that is alarming, no pun intended. Had the Admiral been having an afternoon siesta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John, do you have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted? I haven't, perhaps I should.

We all take it for granted when we start our cars that the thing will go, why the half hour run up or run down in a boat? Strikes me that we all need to review our practices in regard to engine use in confined spaces. 

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Yes, I do, Peter and it would wake you up several boats away!

I run the engine for a few minutes after tying up to let its internal temperature stabilise before shutting down. In propellered aeroplanes this is always done to prevent thermal shock. Also the engine oil temperature must be above a certain minimum (say 50 degs C) before take-off. An engine failure in an aeroplane on take-off is inherently more dangerous than in a car...... as would a boat engine failure in a crowded marina with a strong wind blowing.... you don't have brakes!

 

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With the old drive system on my boat, the exhaust came out at the stern and as a centre cockpit boat that wan't a problem. With the new system the exhaust from the generator is from the side of the boat 2 feet from the awning, and it will be run to do the cooking.

I feel a quick order of a CO detector is needed,  in order to sit on HO2.

 

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I have two! Being centre cockpit with a raised wheelhouse area there is one in both the forward an aft in the cabins. Engine fumes etc can travel in either direction after all.

 

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Without wishing to belittle this situation for a moment, the circumstances do seem extreme in this case.

The report says they were running a 5.7 litre PETROL engine at 3000RPM. It is well known that petrol produces a much higher level of CO than diesel.

The other shock, stated clearly in the report, is that the boat's accommodation had no ventilation.

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Ventilation would seem to be a two edged sword in that it also lets exhaust fumes blow in.

John, thank you for your explanation. Perhaps I best stay away from marinas!

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As Roy says it should be mandatory on the BSC. I fear we will see more tragedies caused by CO than other issues. Maybe it will just appear there are more CO tragedies as there are less fires etc which the BSC has prevented, but it is common sense. And yes we have one on board as well.

With diesel we might all be chocking before the fumes overcame us, but I will stick to trusting the detector. 

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One thing I will say having been overcome by CO as a child due to a faulty boiler, you will not know it is coming until it is too late.

The symptoms they talk about at the end of the video can affect you in seconds by which time it is too late.

I was lucky to have survived - Don't be a victim please.

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We've been woken by our CO alarm before at home.

Everyone should have one and another next to the berth... Even If I was hiring I'd take one.. best investment ever.. 

Please if you've not got one order it today and check yours works (I just tested ours here).

And for goodness sake.. BSC sort it out..

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While I appreciate this is not just a debate about ‘what if’ this were to happen, since there has been a tragic loss of life – made even more sad that the couple concerned were not doing something reckless like having a BBQ in their aft deck, running a generator etc – they simply were running their boats engine – I do think this is being a little bit blown out of proportion.

While it may come as a surprise to some that running an engine creates more than just a noise nuisance, the risk of coming to harm through CO poisoning from running ones engine – especially on a small, single engine Broads Boat (verses much large twine engine installation) is small. 

We know this is the case because if it were not, there would be many such reports of people coming to harm from with their own boat, or another close to them through CO from the exhaust of the engine – not generator or other appliance causing Carbon Monoxide.

I am sure the M.I.B Report will not result in a sudden change of rules - be it on the Broads with regard to running engines, the canals or indeed within private Marinas around the country. However, what it should do is raise awareness of the absolute importance of having CO Alarms fitted on a boat.

Many such alarms incorporate a smoke alarm, but I think a CO Alarm is more vital than a smoke alarm so if you only have a smoke alarm get a duel system or a CO alarm to compliment the smoke alarm.  Be very aware of where best to situate the alarm and consider having two to give better coverage.  I feel there is more risk of fumes you cannot see, taste or smell than that of a fire with smoke that you can. 

Barnes Brinkcraft indeed have such alarms on their boats, perhaps it will cause other yards to have the same fitted too in light of this interim finding of the M.I.B report that has been released to the press, but it does have to be mitigated against cost and risk and people tampering with the alarms, taking them as a nice ‘freebie’ for home or otherwise damaging them. 

I doubt there would be some kind of statutory provision in the BSS where all boats would need to have one fitted, and even if such were to happen it would not take effect for a year or two so in the meantime it is up to the wider boating community to take our own steps to keep us safe – and if you are talking to someone about their boat why not raise the question “do you have a CO alarm?” and if they ask what is that, or say no remind them of the risks of not having one for a few pounds.

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Some good points here.We have had gas alarms fitted and always near floor level.Where is the optimum position for a detector to be fitted  ? Near bunk /seating  around face level ? Gas engineer  fitted ours about five feet up in the boiler cupboard,,some distance from the living and sleeping areas,should we have additional ones ?

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Our alarm was fitted on the wall about eight feet from our Combi boiler.

cheersIain

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33 minutes ago, LondonRascal said:

While it may come as a surprise to some that running an engine creates more than just a noise nuisance, the risk of coming to harm through CO poisoning from running ones engine – especially on a small, single engine Broads Boat (verses much large twine engine installation) is small. 

Very good post Robin.

I notice the EDP quotes the MAIB as saying that this is the third incident of this nature that they have had in around three years. That means not just on the Broads but all inland waterways in the British Isles and including, presumably, UK territorial waters. 

I can tell you one thing though. Anywhere in the Med, or anywhere on the Intracoastal Waterways of the USA, it is totally forbidden to run main engines or generators when moored in a marina. You are supposed to plug into shore power instead.

But we don't have that on the Broads, do we? I think we should.

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CO poisoning or Carbooxyhemoglobin (COHb) saturation starts above 10%.

So I think the argument of Petrol Vs Oil Vs Single Engine Vs Twin is really a bit silly. You want as close to zero entering as possible and that means turning off.

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Once a coach stops to alight passengers in Paris, say near the Military Academy the driver MUST turn the engine off or be clobbered with a huge penalty fine!

cheersIain

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3 hours ago, Boaters said:

Some good points here.We have had gas alarms fitted and always near floor level.Where is the optimum position for a detector to be fitted  ? Near bunk /seating  around face level ? Gas engineer  fitted ours about five feet up in the boiler cupboard,,some distance from the living and sleeping areas,should we have additional ones ?

Carbon monoxide is fractionally lighter than air. During daytime when people are moving about and doors/windows are open the movement of air will probably stop the CO from settling around the ceiling. While sleeping any CO leak will rise to the ceiling so CO detectors are probably best situated about a couple of feet above bunk height.

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6 hours ago, Vaughan said:

Without wishing to belittle this situation for a moment, the circumstances do seem extreme in this case.

The report says they were running a 5.7 litre PETROL engine at 3000RPM. It is well known that petrol produces a much higher level of CO than diesel.

The other shock, stated clearly in the report, is that the boat's accommodation had no ventilation.

That's a lot of revs even for a petrol engine, why so high I wonder?

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Maybe the batteries were low, alot of those American sports cruisers like SeaRay, Bayliner etc. are very power hungry sporting fridge, freezer, microwave, electric cookers. As suggested here on their home waters they would be plugged in.

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