We All Felt The Keuka Lake Explosion.

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ABC News 13 WHAM Photo

A special message to the Coronado Couple. We are all with you. You have an entire community behind you, beside you and there for you as you move forward. We all send deep love, care, and support in anything you may need. WE ALL FELT THIS WITH YOU!

It’s very clear from many emails and comments that the explosion on Keuka lake has effected many in our community. We all in some way felt the explosion. This will change our way of boating. It has too. It’s always sad that this sort of thing has to happen to wake us all up.But its human nature, And sadly human nature to forget.

ABC News 13 WHAM Photo

I am personally changing the way I go boating. Fuel Sensors, Blowers, and generally update all my boats so they are safe.

And I know it’s part of human nature to comment about woulda shoulda… WE ARE ALL GUILTY in some small ways of this. We ALL felt this, because of that. This wasn’t some idiot in a jet ski plowing into a boat, or a drunk ass whole mowing over someone. This was on all of us.

ABC News 13 WHAM Photo

A NEW WAY  – We here at Woody Boater propose this.

In an effort to start effecting change, which we seem to always be doing here, ZERO points should be deducted for ANY safety equipment. I know many shows and judges get this. But Saturdays sadness is a harsh reminder that our lives, are not worth points.

In fact – Points should be deducted for not being safe!

Being creative with your safety measures, actually helps even more. Our passion is both art and science, certainly we can figure this out.

Over the next month as we explore the safety systems on our boats, we will share and discuss clever ways to make our Safety part of the fun, part of the art. And of course please share. Send ideas to me to publish. After all, this is fun, and its far more fun to be out there, than in the hospital.

Here is the report from ABC News 13 WHAM that talks about the accident with the footage.

40 replies
  1. Brian
    Brian says:

    Kudos to Woody Boater for the call to action on points and judging. I might suggest that a point or two be added for certain safety elements. Looking forward to the series of articles to follow.

  2. Brian
    Brian says:

    Kudos to Woody Boater for the call to action on points. I might suggest a point or two be added for safety elements. Looking forward to the series of articles to follow.

  3. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    There is definitely a difficult discussion to be had between legal because it’s grandfathered vs new in 2019 standards, and also between minimally legal and best practices/newest technologies.

    ACBS and show sponsors can definitely help by requiring safety updates to old boats, but how far should they go? Blowers for sure, but how about new fuel systems from tank to carb? Modern materials, fuel pumps, anti-siphon and shutoff valves? How old is too old for rigid fuel lines? How often do they need to be replaced, and will judges or safety inspectors be able to tell?

    We don’t know the official cause yet, and we may never, but the time between startup and explosion suggests a fuel leak to me. Something a blower probably wouldn’t have prevented, and lift and sniff may not have either. It has me thinking about vapor sensors as well. Indicator light vs buzzer? Will I see a light fast enough? Will I hear a buzzer over the engine at speed? One thing fore sure, I can do better. We all probably can.

    • Carol Kistner
      Carol Kistner says:

      My husband and I cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of love and compassion that we are receiving. Burn-pain is quite extreme, I have found, so please move forward with your innovations, stay safe and have fun.

      Carol Kistner

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Prayers and best wishes to all involved.

    One thing that comes to mind as I read many comments about updating to rubber fuel lines. When and if you make that switch make sure your fuel tank is grounded. In many of the older boats the copper fuel line was the grounding system for the fuel tank, so when you install rubber lines another form of grounding needs to be installed. Lack of grounding could also account for the delayed explosion.

  5. Sunday Funday
    Sunday Funday says:

    Troy brings up a great point in that sometimes the “fix” can cause other issues. While we are all people of action and want to fix things NOW, maybe the best course of action is to slow down.
    This is the time to pray for the injured couple and any other affected people.
    After some time to heal, we can investigate the true cause and take a methodical approach to fixing the issue. Note: this does not give us permission to forget about the fixes until next time.

  6. Bilge Rat
    Bilge Rat says:

    Just installed this on the Lyman over the winter. It is tastefully installed at the helm along with other gauges. For the on-going restoration of the U22, I’ll install in some convenient location below the gauges that won’t be so obvious to someone other than the skipper. The audible is quite loud on this and you can even remote an audible too.

  7. Dave Ball
    Dave Ball says:

    We install a #8 green bonding wire to all wooden boats that
    come to our shop as Troy mentioned. The addition of any inline
    after market fuel filter also does away with the original grounding sys. touch the fuel fill with your hand before inserting the fuel hose to prevent a spark!

  8. Jack Schneiberg
    Jack Schneiberg says:

    When I was about 12 and lived on Brown’s Lake in Wisconsin, the neighbors invited me to go fishing with them on their 1949 Century Resorter. I don’t like fishing – so I declined and sat on the bank to listen to the boat start up and take off. A passion I still have. And – I watched as they ground away on the starter with no results – EXCEPT – BOOM. They both escaped unharmed but the boat burned to the waterline in just minutes. Tell me why a lot of fire extinguishers I see in our classics are mounted on the back of the front seat. When the engine compartment goes up in flames – that is the last place you are going to want to stick your arm…………..

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      The argument I heard for this, and the reason I do it, is because an extinguisher mounted on the floor of cockpit (by the feet of a passenger) is out of reach of anyone in the back, or on the dock next to the boat, or of the driver if there are passengers sitting in the front seat. You should be able to reach an extinguisher without getting up or moving substantially.

  9. Fred
    Fred says:

    Just a thought or two. Ethanol fuel eating old pre ethanol rubber hoses, upgrade to modern
    fuel injection type hosess. It’s easy to overlook, because hey, I’ve never had a problem. Also I plan on replacing those dryer vent fresh air hoses that go into my bilge that have deteriorated over time from engine heat. I also run my blower while refueling, and have my hatch open. Then do the look and sniff before starting, all while the blower is running. Ok, honestly, I just started doing this the start of this boating season. Why? maybe because I now have a PV Captains license and I am responsible for people’s safety on the PV vessel, and my personal boat. Its made me look around and see the folks I’m responsible for during that boat ride. It’s almost taken the fun out of boating. This accident convinces me to continue my new actions, it only takes a few minutes, but the benefits will last a lifetime.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Ethanol, and simply time, may degrade old rubber fuel lines. Ethanol will also allow galvanic corrosion to eat away at metallic components from the inside. From the tank to the carb, how many different dissimilar metals are in your fuel system? Tank, pickup tube, anti-siphon, check valve, shutoff valve, filters, pump, carb body and all sorts of components. Yes Do you know which ones are at most risk for corrosion? Should we have a calendar life limit on these items? Replace every 10 years? 5? 20?

    • Jimmy
      Jimmy says:

      Fuel injection type hose is not coast guard approved. Anytime you use rubber hose in a boat you must only use coast guard approved hoses. Fuel injection hose has a much thinner wall than coast guard approved hoses that must meet a minimum burn time.

    • KW
      KW says:

      Having spent many summer pumping gas at marinas you should never run blower while pumping gas close boat up tight blower off after you are done pumping open boat up and run blower. you can suck gas fumes in while pumping

  10. Syd
    Syd says:

    At the Finger Lakes show at Skaneatles we place fire extingushiers out on the docks and present an award for safety. As for points, all the shows that I have been involved with, I do not know of any that take points off for safety equipment.

  11. Bob Gallagher
    Bob Gallagher says:

    We are all brothers and sisters in the boating community. Thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery!!! “Get back up Maverick!”

    • Mark in da U P
      Mark in da U P says:

      My thoughts and prayers are with the couple that were injured. Went boating today, definitely thought of them when I flipped my blower switch. We are definitely all behind you and with you. Whatever safety equipment needs to be and should be installed to keep no matter what age boat safe

  12. Jimmy
    Jimmy says:

    Wake up call to all those using those non marine plastic automotive filters that crack and leak and automotive alternators without flame arrestors. Let’s not forget that almost all the distributors on these wooden boats have no flame arrestors that is what most likely sparked the explosion. For a leak big enough to cause an explosion shortly after leaving the dock it had to have been already leaking and a lift and sniff most likely would’ve caught the leak. Safety equipment only goes so far even modern boats with all the required safety equipment and flame arrestors on anything that can create a spark still explode and catch fire from fumes happens at least once a year on our lake.

  13. David Gray McMillan
    David Gray McMillan says:

    What a wake up call to ensuring, and verifying each and every time our family leaves the dock, that our blower is operating. It’s kind of a noisy thing, but after this ‘who cares about a noisy blower’? Thanks to WB for putting this front & center and for hosting an opportunity for us to share our empathy and ideas! The safety points deduction is an excellent way to apply what we’ve seen.

  14. Sean
    Sean says:

    It sounds like the responsible thing to do but, it’s a big CAN-O-WORMS. Safety. Sure, new fuel lines, what about wiring and connectors? Fuel pumps or, what about EFI vs Carbs? Do we change our power for safety’s sake? Breaking down in some situations can be more than annoying; it CAN be dangerous! ACBS Toronto just celebrated 100 year old boats at our July show (No mechanical incidents, thank goodness) and we have to ask, is it even safe to operate these boats? Maybe 100 point show boats must now be trailer queen museum like pieces and are no longer practical to have in the water around people. I have a classic (1972) that comes with a blower and flame arrestors. But, I still used steel braided fuel & oil lines, modern wiring, overfill valves and a plethora of other upgrades to make my boat safe, reliable and use-able every day. Don’t even send an “originality” Judge my way….. I’ll take the workmanship and cleanliness Judge anytime.

  15. Gary W Van Tassel
    Gary W Van Tassel says:

    I have intentionally waited to post to let more info flow. First, like everyone, my thoughts are with the injured. Get well and get back out there. All your friends are pulling for you and miss you.

    I did a short talk, way too short as it now turns out, at the Tidewater Chapter meet in Va. over the winter on this very subject. I suggested this talk because as a relatively new member of ACBS, but life long boater and a NA/ME, I was and am very concerned about what I was seeing when I walked around shows. You all know what I am talking about. Judging be dammed, ACBS PLEASE take the lead and get your act together.

    If you think you are grandfathered, think again. YOU ARE NOT!!! See 33 CFR Subchapter S. Some things like level floatation are grandfathered. You don’t have fill your boats with foam. Critical safety issues are not.

    Let me add this thought (I suspect this will cause a lot of comments/rebuttals) – If you are doing a significant restoration/rebuilding I submit to you that you could now be considered the boat builder. Failure to follow the regulations COULD leave in legal jeopardy. I am not a lawyer, but I have done significant expert witness testimony and you never know where a law suit or court room jury will lead. I have been surprised. If you are a professional restorer, talk to your insurance carrier. But, for safety, follow the regs for fuel systems, flame arrestors, fuel pumps and ignition protection, etc. Automotive anything has no place on a boat.

    Don’t be surprised if you carrier requires a vessel survey on policy renewal

    Matt attended and reported on the talk I gave. Matt, if you would like me to write an article following what I discussed in the talk, let me know. Happy to it.

    Again, this was a horrible accident. My thoughts go to the injured. Get well we are all thinking about you.

  16. RivaDella
    RivaDella says:

    Lots of good ideas being presented here….almost too many in fact, as some seem to conflict with others…. Maybe someone (WB?) can eventually produce and communicate a curated list of options that work together from tank to intake. (belatedly realizes that his ancient Riva may not have enough (any?) of these safeguards…..) Going to check right now…..

  17. MikeM
    MikeM says:

    Obviously a sad and scary situation but also likely avoidable.

    I spend almost as much time cleaning my boats as I do running them. This serves as a continual safety check, as well. I wipe down my intake manifold, valve covers and anything else I can get a towel on. I regularly check all connections whether its a wire, tube or hose. Its easy. Even the fuel tank.

    Also, I’ve judged a few shows and judges are never instructed to deduct for safety items, if they’re done well. And doing it cleanly and well is part of the fun. I disagree that all boats need to be updated with rubber and all that other stuff. The old original stuff is cool and if you lift and sniff every time. You will probably be ok.

  18. Patrick L.W.
    Patrick L.W. says:

    First thing I did on my 1955 capri (purchased in June) was add a sniffer and a blower – I think its crazy not to at least have that on this style boat. I feel horrible for this couple. The jury is not in yet. I will be anxiously waiting for a cause if its found out.

  19. Barb Hansen
    Barb Hansen says:

    Coast Guard Auxiliary members are often available at Boat Shows in Michigan for Safety checks. Our young grandchildren look every Summer for the Coast Guard sticker. They watched the inspection a couple of years ago and were impressed by the Auxiliary Member and the process.
    We’d rather be safe than worry about points.
    Admittedly, we have a user 1947 white sided U22 that has been shown on Woody Boater in the past. We aren’t a show queen by any means, but we do agree everyone needs to be as safe as possible. I don’t know if fire extinguishers could have prevented this particular explosion. We’re hoping the couple are okay and will heal quickly.

  20. Duster
    Duster says:

    I believe this is all heading in the right direction Matt.
    After seeing the reports of this tragedy on WB I have reassessed the safety of my boats. Only one has blowers and none have a fume sensor. None of them will be going back in the water without these added and all hoses replaced and or checked. This has been a wake up call that’s reached me way down here in New Zealand. Luckily I have another 3 months of winter to get them done.

  21. Briant
    Briant says:

    Normally I wouldn’t bother to correct Matt’s spelling errors but this time I gotta….

    “wasn’t some idiot in a jet ski plowing into a boat, or a drunk ass whole mowing over someone. This was on all of us.”

    An “asshole” is someone that mows over a swimmer or fellow boater.

    An “ass whole” is someone that drives an Audi.

    A big difference.

  22. Jim G
    Jim G says:

    The easiest and best piece of safety equipment to add is an automatic fire extinguishers in the engine compartment or inside the engine box. It will go off if it senses fire.

    If you have a regular extinguisher and your boat is on fire. As soon as you lift that engine box or hatch your going to in for a very big surprise. Watch the movie Backdraft and you will understand what will happen.

    My wife works for the Army Corp of Engineers and has to go to safety training every couple of years. Part of the training is about boats since they do some boat patrols on the lake. They told her that having a fire extinguisher is great on a boat if you can’t see land. But if your on a lake and your boats on fire when you open that engine box or hatch and your lucky enough to not to get blown out of the boat when you hit it with the fire extinguisher your just going to piss it off since 95% of fires on boats involve gas and usually gas floating on water. The the extinguisher hits it and usually just blows the gas around the engine compartment making it much worse.

  23. Johnny V./John Vyverberg
    Johnny V./John Vyverberg says:

    Automatic fire extinguishers are great, but this was an explosion of built up fumes with secondary fires. I was there and the percussion was like the big boom of a professional pyrotechnic. Look at the damage to the hull-the front deck blown off with the lifting rod attached and the starboard side of the hull blown out. Not that I disagree with Jim G.’s take on using fire extinguishers, but this appears to be different.

    From what I hear, the plan is to raise it the boat Thursday night. I’ll try to get some pictures.

    The husband is doing OK, but his wife is still in the ICU unit at Strong Memorial in Rochester with 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

  24. George Emmanuel
    George Emmanuel says:

    Many suggestions support adding devices to monitor fumes, leaks, etc. Nothing takes the place of personal responsibility. I don’t trust anything other than myself to stick my nose on the bilge and see if there are issues. This indeed was a sad event. My heart goes out to people who suffer losses and injuries.

  25. Miles Kapper
    Miles Kapper says:

    I suppose when you look at all the boat shows going on, all things being equal this accident was a rare occurrence indeed. Still, it hurts. It also seems logical that without some of the preventative safety methods available insurance companies will begin to just flat out to refuse to insure boats without them.

  26. Tom Drozd
    Tom Drozd says:

    Being friends of Bill and Carol (who were the folks on the Coronado) I can tell you a few things. Blower was on since he left the dock. He’s been a boat owner and operator for at least 30+ years. There were multiple circumstances that lead to the explosion. He is new to the ACBS functions and didn’t know anyone at the show. His biggest fear was being alone in the hospital not knowing how his wife was doing.

    We should have a safety officer at every ACBS sanctioned show who in case of emergency like this go to the hospital with the person for support.

    No worse feeling than being alone in a situation like that.

    Also in situations like this both he and his wife lost their cell phones and didn’t know anyone’s phone number by memory. Darn cell phones.

    They are both doing well. Bill got 8 staples in his head and his wife has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on legs and feet. No skin graphs yet. Only if they have too. They are real troopers and only blames himself.

    At this time they are grateful to be alive and said the show was great.

    Please keep up the support for these new members.

    I met them at the Sunnyland show. Great couple and just love boating, please keep them in your prayers.

  27. Jim G
    Jim G says:

    I agree with what Tom said about some one going o the hospital with at least one of them. It does help a lot even if its just for support.

    When I went into the emergency room on Saturday at the Fingerlakes International show. Carla from Hagerty’s came and kept me company for several hours. I hope she will be back to work soon.

  28. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    If they had a blower and it was on, the signs are pointing to a fuel leak, most likely after the pump. A spray of fuel onto a warm engine can produce a lot of fumes, and only after startup. More than a blower can handle. Besides preventing the leak, an alarm might have been the only thing that would have helped.

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