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Old 30 August 2010, 04:09   #11
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Originally Posted by Merlin View Post

We noticed a little smoke almost like steam
I wonder if this was petrol vapour. I've seen it before when a bike tank has hardly any fuel in and gets hot.
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Old 30 August 2010, 05:55   #12
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Petrol ending up in the bilge and an electric auto bilge pump is always my biggest fear and fuel tank or breather/filler pipes near the battery in a console.
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Old 30 August 2010, 07:01   #13
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hi merlin,

glad nobody in boat... thats the main thing...

" Filled it full of fuel took it back to the mooring and washed and cleaned it all down"

Did you fill it with jerry cans?
Was it filled via a filler or stright into tanks via a plastic funnel?
Down at the slipway? did you fill to brim? much spillage?
Was the little smoke coming from under the rear bench seat?
Where is the filler in connection with where you first saw the smoke?
Do you (did) have a serviceable bilge pump?

A vapour explosion in boats is normally a very quick affair - never much tell tale sign just straight forward engulfing of the vapour which then sets the main tanks alight and it gets fiercer and spreads rapidly...

Yours sounds like an electrical fault that due to confined space, close proximity of fuel / vapour was a bit like lighting a firework - the electrical item was the fuse then the fuel was the accelerator...

Still - nobody hurt and that's all that matters - however when you get your new boat - never put any fuel cans either full or empty anywhere near any battery compartments and remember if the fuel cans are empty to leave the vent plugs completely undone or the caps off... with petrol cans the golden rule is either store completely full or bone dry - nothing in between - more trouble than its worth.....

Dont let this event stop you / your family from enjoying boating - as long as LJ's for everyone the worst that should happen is you get a bit wet and maybe cold...

What you may have thought was steam - could of been a thing called "Blue Note" vapour under pressure and venting prior to ignition...

cheers

Nick
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Old 30 August 2010, 07:14   #14
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Originally Posted by ribraff View Post
Petrol ending up in the bilge and an electric auto bilge pump is always my biggest fear and fuel tank or breather/filler pipes near the battery in a console.
The trouble is that in a single dive console you don't really have much option. My old Humber had the battery right next to the tank, I could have moved it but it would still have been in the same air space (there was a bulkhead between the two spaces but it had holes in it where all the wiring and steering etc went through). Not ideal to be sitting on a bomb but not much option.

When I first bought the boat the vent pipe was leaking and there was petrol slopping out of the top of the tank when it was full needless to say that got fixed fairly quickly also the isolator was under the seat but when the boat had been sitting for a while I always used to take the seat off and open the front hatch and leave it venting for a while before switching the isolator on, "just in case".

I'm not sure what the exact arrangement will be on the Vmax but assume that in a dive console, the filler and vent pipes are going to go up through the console and the battery will be in there somewhere - simply because there is nowhere else to put it...

I only ever had a manual pump on that boat and while there is no bilge pump on the Vmax at the moment it will only get a manual one if I decide I need one, for exactly the above reason - a bilge pump should be sealed so in theory you should get away with a bilge full of petrol but I sure as hell ain't going to try it!!

Commiserations to the owner, but at least everybody was ok that is always the main thing.
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Old 30 August 2010, 12:43   #15
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Originally Posted by BogMonster View Post
I'm not sure what the exact arrangement will be on the Vmax but assume that in a dive console, the filler and vent pipes are going to go up through the console and the battery will be in there somewhere - simply because there is nowhere else to put it...
I have the same console in my SR4.7.
By incorporating a couple of bulkheads, it's easy to separate the fuel tank from the battery.
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Old 30 August 2010, 13:08   #16
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many thanks for the help and ideas, we have just been in a daze today down on holiday to enjoy the boat but no boat, to answer a couple of questions the fuel was filled from the fuel barge by pump , it wasnt filled up to the top .

thanks again and hope none of you go through this

regards

Anthony
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Old 30 August 2010, 13:27   #17
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many thanks for the help and ideas, we have just been in a daze today down on holiday to enjoy the boat but no boat, to answer a couple of questions the fuel was filled from the fuel barge by pump , it wasnt filled up to the top .

thanks again and hope none of you go through this

regards

Anthony
Sorry to hear about your issues, glad you are all OK. Might be worth reporting it to the MAIB as if there is a "lesson to be learned by everyone" then they should investigate and share that - even if its just a preliminary examination. I'd hope that they would take it seriously enough to come up with a likely cause (possibly with some sort of fire investigation expert) rather than speculation. I for one will be examining the condition of the main battery cables where they leave the console as clearly any chaffing causing a short here is a likely suspect that I've probably ignored. That's after my "isolator switch" - but I don't fancy getting to the switch if the console is alight! So thanks for sharing.
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Old 30 August 2010, 16:18   #18
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Any thoughts ? it started at the stern under the seats the only things under there was the battery isolator switch and on the other side a plastic 5 litre spare tank.


Spare tank could have been the source of the vapour. (If this was indeed involved)

The insurance assessor might be able to spot the source of the ignition - cables that have been arcing have a different appearance to those that have just been melted by the fire.

I've got an engine room fire on a yacht to look at on Wednesday.

Was the "explosion" the fuel or just the tubes bursting?
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Old 30 August 2010, 16:41   #19
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Well all I know is,.. go to the lowest point where electrics are involved and thats usually the source but the fierce heat in this one might make that hard to establish, particularly with the volumes of plastic, and fuel being at a similar level. IMO if its a fuel issue on a small open boat like this the vapour density has to be fairly high, before ignition is likely.. in other words, youd be smelling petrol on a fairly regular basis, but as the boat had just been fuelled if a cap has been left off for example ?
or the breather pipe was close ?

Despite petrol being so aromatic,.. I remember a situation as a kid where I used a can to light a bonfire once .. threw the empty 1/2 gallon can up the hill about 10 feet away .. couldnt get the damn match to light but when it did, the bonfire finally lit and so did a trail right back up the hill to the can, and blew it up... which suggests petrol vapour is heavier than air , so in windless conditions even in an open boat its just possible enough gathered round the area of the suspected short
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Old 30 August 2010, 16:50   #20
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Well, commiserations for/with Merlin but as said, lucky you were watching it, not on it.

Makes me think though - when we cruise the longer legs, we're toting 100L of gas as deck cargo. With 180L below deck, we joke about being a potential fuel/air bomb if involved in a collision...

No joke really
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