Thanks to fellow Woody Boater Gene Porter, we are now aware of a major safety device that could save your life one day. The following story will appear in the upcoming Rudder, normally we would not publish a story that will appear in another publication, but this is all about awareness and getting the word out.
“Save a boat, maybe save a life” By Gene Porter
Early in the 2013 boating season at least one vintage boat was lost due to a fuel leak and the resulting explosion and fire. The dominant reaction online and elsewhere was “Lift and Sniff” – clearly good advice, but not always sufficient. What if the fuel only leaks after the engine has been started?
Five years after installation of a fuel vapor detector in the bilge of my vintage 23’ Lyman Sleeper, and never having sounded before except when testing, the alarm sounded right after I had sniffed the engine compartment and then started the engine at the start of a Lyman cruise on “Golden Pond”/Squam Lake NH .
A fuel leak had developed from a filter fitting, no doubt due to the extensive vibrations recently imposed by Interstate 95. Sniffing prior to starting wasn’t enough because the filter fitting was downstream of the fuel pump and therefore not pressurized until after the engine started.
This alarm probably saved my boat and maybe my life and those of friends on the adjacent dock. Although now priced just above $100 – about twice what I paid years ago – such detectors seem to me to be an extremely worthwhile investment in safety. I’m surprised they aren’t mandatory but recommend that all owners of gasoline fueled boats –particularly old inboards – and all restoration shops, immediately install such a detector in each boat under their purview.
Past President ACBS
Thankfully now all Gene has to worry about is the water levels on his lake.