At approximately 1200 (UTC) on 12th November 2016, the owner of the 7.75m motor cruiser Vasquez
fell unconscious after being overcome by carbon monoxide (CO) that had been emitted from failed rubber bellows forming part of the inboard engine’s wet-exhaust system. Although rescuers came to the man’s aid, it was not possible to save his life. The MAIB’s (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) report
identified that the boat’s engine had not been regularly serviced and there was evidence that the exhaust system of the engine had been modified during the boat’s life.
This tragic accident has highlighted that there still remains a significant task to raise leisure boat owners’ awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Due to the odourless nature of carbon monoxide, the fitting of a detector/alarm remains the only effective warning that the poisonous gas may be present.
It is important, however, to appreciate the extent of one’s knowledge when it comes to self-maintenance of a boat, particularly with regard to its engine, and when professional advice should be sought. Regular engine servicing in accordance with the engine manufacturer’s guidelines should ensure an engine remains reliable and safe to use.Photo: Vasquez.