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January 2010

Cause for alarm

Don’t head out without a CO detector

The other day, another squadron member and I were about three miles from shore in my boat when an alarm began sounding from somewhere on board.

I stopped the boat to determine where the sound was coming from, but the alarm stopped before I could find it.

After a bit of head-scratching, we continued on our way. Within minutes, the alarm started back up, and I immediately stopped the boat.

Pretty sure the sound wasn’t coming from the flybridge, I decided to check the cabin. As soon as I went below, I realized we were hearing the carbon monoxide detector alarm.

Here’s what happened: When we left the dock, I didn’t open any hatches, and through the station wagon effect, the boat’s forward motion drew exhaust into the cabin, where it collected.

Rather than turn off the unit, I opened a forward hatch and let the clean air moving through the boat silence the alarm.

You wouldn’t consider not having detectors at home, so why forgo them on your boat?

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The station wagon effect

The station wagon effect

Engine exhaust can be blown into a boat that’s running ahead of the wind. The boat’s forward motion creates a backdraft that pulls exhaust from the stern into the cockpit or cabin.

If exhaust is detected, open windshields and portholes to create a draft so the fumes can escape. Introduce fresh air by making turns or zigzagging across the course.

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