Sunday, July 13, 2008

Learn What You Are Doing - What You Don't Know, Can Hurt You

Update: This post is about boating, but it applies in more aspects of life in general. Don't assume that everything works the same way the things you know work. If you enter a new arena - boating, flying, scuba, etc. - you will find that the rules of safety that work fine on solid ground, are probably not going to serve you too well. They may cost you money, and they may cost your life.

Yacht on Belmont Harbor erupts into flames, which spread to 3 other boats -- chicagotribune.com Candles have no place on a boat. Marine kerosene lamps are specially designed so they won't spill. And they are not cheap.

One report I heard said the candles were citronella (the anti-mosquito candle). Unbelievable.

Fire is the most deadly thing you can have on a boat. Fiberglass burns pretty well, and once it heats up the diesel, you have a fire that is almost impossible to put out. If the engine compartment isn't the only thing on fire, even an automatic fire supression system won't save the boat. And if there is propane on the boat, you can expect a pretty spectacular explosion - on the order of 22 sticks of dynamite, depending on the amount of propane.

Since this sounds like negligence, my guess is that the owners will have trouble collecting on their insurance. The boat where the fire started was estimated to cost 250,000 to 350,000 bucks. Other boats were also damaged. (I would expect to see law suits over responsibility.)
"We had a big cruise planned for August, but obviously that's not going to happen," Wolniak said Saturday afternoon as he swept up black char from where the flames singed and melted his sail and mast. He said the damage may total as much as $50,000.
It is a miracle no one died. All because people refuse to believe that boats are different from anything you encounter on land. Unfortunately, I see this attitude all too often. Rules of Navigation? Watchkeeping? Drinking and boating? Who worries about any of that? Get in the boat, get drunk and go (not necessarily in that order) is the way too many boaters approach the water.

Citronella candles may be nice on your patio or deck on your house on land. They don't belong on the deck of your boat.

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