Carbon Monoxide Poisoning And Your Classic Boat. A Scary Tale.


I am not going to regurgitate the same stuff you can find on the internet here. You can click here if you want to know more.. What I am going to tell you though is rather chilling.. and sobering.. We all love our antique boats.. We also know the dangers of them. We all think modern safety rules don’t apply to many of our watercraft.. Blowers, fire extinguishers…carbon monoxide detectors..THEY DO!

I got a call this weekend from some fellow Woody Boaters about a terrifying story and carbon monoxide on there boat. This couple loves there boat, and more so loves using it all the way into November up in the great North… they had there grand kids on board and were hanging out on the rear deck of the boat. These folks are about as OCD as it gets by the way with there boating.. Like need medication OCD.. Any way.. the kids go down into the cabin and one of them comes back up saying that the other one is passed out.. What in the hell is going on here? Eight miles out in the lake, and one of your grand kids is blacked out? Whats going on? CPR, and Mouth to mouth, and the kid is revived.. FULL throttle into port.. Then one of transmissions goes out.. Still Full Throttle,, imagine all this going on and the transmission goes out.. A new transmission by the way… Coast Guard is called.. The boat is inspected.. No issues.. This boat is one of Americas top boats.. Don’t even ask me, I wont tell. Just trust me when I say, I know this boat and it’s so over the top done that I laugh when I think of the coast guard inspecting it.. The only conclusion.. Carbon Monoxide poisoning.. And after some tests at the hospital.. It came out positive. So.. what caused it? No leaks in the engine bay.. nothing? Imagine being OCD and thinking there is a leak someplace.. Noth’n.

Remember those old station wagons with the electric rear windows.. .Carbon Monoxide would come up from the back and sweep into the rear of the car.. Aerodynamics.. something I thought I would never talk about here on Woody Boater… But here we are… Turns out the family had put up there side curtains on the front cockpit of there 30 ft cruiser.. Not the rear, just the drop curtains.. What appears to have happened is that the gas came up and just hovered at the deck level, trapped in the area.. We are talking here about a relatively open deck.. The other observation here, is that designs back in the day did not take some of these issues into consideration.. So, please be aware, be careful, lean CPR by the way, and get a carbon monoxide detector.. you can click here at Marine Technologies ..

During these cold months, this is the sort of thing that we need to be extra mindful of… And no this is not the start of Misery month.. Although…. we still have the Warner Auction…

4 replies
  1. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Carbon Monoxide is a real threat on any boat with enclosed spaces that might be occupied while engines and/or generator are running. Exhaust leaks or not, CO can accumulate in cabins as it obviously did in this example.

    I have a CO detector in the cabin of my cruiser. It can be a nuisances at times, mostly while idling along with a breeze to the backside and the exhaust is coming in the cabin through an open window or the aft deck door. Pulling the batteries solves the problem, right? Think again after hearing of this report.

  2. Rick
    Rick says:

    Even modern cruisers sometimes only address the issue with a statement in the manual about not sitting on the rear deck without cross ventilation or to keep the cabin door closed when running the engine. On my express cruiser (make withheld) the alarm went off so often I kept the breaker off until I had it tested and found it was working fine. Scared the heck out of me.

  3. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I wondered why some of the boats (at least my 1959 24' Sportsman) have tilt out windows… someone told me it was for ventalation, but without a canopy, I assumed they were pulling my leg! Maybe a precautionary design if one was added??

  4. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    Just pulled an CO detector that we are not using out of storage. It will be on the boat with new batteries this weekend.
    Thanks for the info!

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