Boat explosion finally reaches a conclusion - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 24 Old 08-04-2010 Thread Starter
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Boat explosion finally reaches a conclusion

This is a follow-up to a thread a couple of years ago about an old wooden (really nice) powerboat that blew up soon after refuelling here in 2008 - some might remember.

For those that don't, an elderly couple were killed when their son's boat blew up shortly after refuelling at Melbourne's Pier 35, South Wharf, on the Yarra River. The resulting typical knee-jerk reaction caused increased insurance premiums for wooden boat owners, both sail & power, and a shortage of Surveyors willing to sign off on any old wooden boat.

It seems like this sad story has finally reached a conclusion, but I, for one, don't like to think of the ramafications for anyone using petrol (that's gasoline to you folks) including outboard motors... read on:

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Their son, Anthony Elliot, bought the "Leda II" for $28,000 from broker, Scott O'Hare at Aussie Boat Sales at Anchorage Marina, Port Melbourne. He had taken possession of the older style boat just hours before the explosion.

In examining the cause of the explosion, Victorian Coroner, Peter White, found the boat had faulty tanks and fuel lines, and exploded when the engine was started. He found Mr O'Hare knew of the poor condition of the boats tanks and the probable contamination of the fuel lines before he sold it. He said Mr O'Hare had understood the boat's safety was compromised and failed in his duty to inform the buyers.

During the hearing, Mr Elliot testified Mr O'Hare had told him he had cleaned and serviced the carburettors and the boat was running 'like a new boat". However, the court was told that prior to Mr Elliot's interest, the broker, and the salesman, Phil Grundy, had become frustrated in their efforts to sell the boat because they could not get it to start, or to reach "runabout stage".

The Coroner told the court he was also concerned by the understaffing and under-resourcing at the Marine Police Unit tasked to investigate and prosecute non-compliance by boat owners and brokers.

He recommended:

- Resources available to Victoria Police's Marine Division be increased.

- A campaign further highlighting the dangers involved in the use of petrol-driven inboard motor cruisers.

- Introduction of legislation requiring mechanical surveys for all petrol-powered boats 15 year or older.

- Introduction of legislation to improve design standards for petrol-fuelled boats.

Victoria's Ports Minister, Tim Pallas, says the state's boat registration laws will be strengthened. "The Government has been in the process of rewriting the Marine Safety Act," he said. "It will be introduced in to Parliament in the next few weeks and will incorporate increased rigour around the process of how vessels go to sea", Mr Pallas said.
Elderly couple died in faulty boat: coroner - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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post #2 of 24 Old 08-05-2010
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What was the logic behind singling out wooden boats? From what was written seems that the explosion was caused by a faulty fuel system and would have happened no matter what the hull was made of -- or am I missing something?

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BH—

That's why it is called a knee-jerk reaction.

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post #4 of 24 Old 08-05-2010
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Am I the only one here???

"Victorian Coroner, Peter White, found the boat had faulty tanks and fuel lines, and exploded when the engine was started. He found Mr O'Hare knew of the poor condition of the boats tanks and the probable contamination of the fuel lines before he sold it. He said Mr O'Hare had understood the boat's safety was compromised and failed in his duty to inform the buyers."

lemme guess, no survey, no "caveat emptor"
Yes, the p.o. SHOULD have said something. But he didn't. So, lets make it someone elses fault.

Imagine buying a used car, run it up the road and one of the wheels falls off. Is the the p.o's fault you didn't check the lug nuts yourself?

A quick check of the fuel system might have bought a discount... It surly would have kept the darn thing from going ka-boom

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post #5 of 24 Old 08-05-2010
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which is why this marginal tank was junked along with it marginal mount and the fill and vent lines we moved to meet current standards





It cost me at least 700 dollars to square things away BUT i will be safe which is priceless

These things get checked all the time after its to late and i have never see a case wear there was not a huge matiance issue / auto part repiar / Wile E. Coyote what could go wrong approach

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post #6 of 24 Old 08-05-2010
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Along with the new tank you should ventilate, ventilate and ventilate after fueling and any time you step aboard your vessel after being away for awhile.

The majority of boat explosions are due to a lack of failing to ventilate the enclosed spaces before starting the engine or lighting up a cigarette.

And after being away for awhile be sure to inspect your vessel for any fuel leaks of any sort. Both Gasoline and propane/LNG.

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post #7 of 24 Old 08-05-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardiacpaul View Post
Am I the only one here???

"Victorian Coroner, Peter White, found the boat had faulty tanks and fuel lines, and exploded when the engine was started. He found Mr O'Hare knew of the poor condition of the boats tanks and the probable contamination of the fuel lines before he sold it. He said Mr O'Hare had understood the boat's safety was compromised and failed in his duty to inform the buyers."

lemme guess, no survey, no "caveat emptor"
Yes, the p.o. SHOULD have said something. But he didn't. So, lets make it someone elses fault.

Imagine buying a used car, run it up the road and one of the wheels falls off. Is the the p.o's fault you didn't check the lug nuts yourself?

A quick check of the fuel system might have bought a discount... It surly would have kept the darn thing from going ka-boom
There is a term used in law (at least where I come from) called latent defect. That generally refers to faults inherent in a product that the seller was aware of and did not declare. In many cases it is just a matter of financial redress which is sometimes problematic for the new owner.

But in cases where it causes injury or death, criminal charges against the knowing seller are guaranteed to follow. And IMHO so they should. Selling any piece of equipment knowing that there is a good chance that someone may die using it is seriously dodgy.

The article says that the boat exploded "just hours" after the sale. Seemingly on it's 1st refuel by the new owner. If the tank was near empty when the boat when it was handed over (or if/when it was surveyed) and it probably was, it is fair to assume that a fuel leak was probably not evident at that point.

So as far as I am concerned it is clearly the sellers fault.


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My boat has a very large active blower the hoses are being replaced and with the clam-shell vents on the stern facing fore and aft it also has good passive flow

BUT nothing is better than checking with your nose as the sniffers still have a lot of false +

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post #9 of 24 Old 08-05-2010 Thread Starter
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You'd have to dig back to the original thread and news reports on this, but IIRC the boat in question DID have a bilge blower and YES they used it - sparking from it may well have been the ignition source.

I don't believe the initial report found that there was anything wrong with either the refulling dock or the way the new owner filled the tanks or started his engine - so it was always going to be a finger-pointing excersise, hence the reason I posted it in the first place.

The finger is currently being pointed at:

- Surveyors of wooden boats (when I bought mine 6 months ago, I had a total of 1 to choose from.. and only because he *happened* to be the Club Safety Officer *happened* to be friendly with friends of the PO and his report *happened* to be accepted by Nautilus Marine Insurance because Club Marine wouldn't have a bar of re-insuring my "wooden boat", even though it had been on their books for decades!! )

- Petrol engines!

Hopefully this may clean out some unscrupulous Brokers (upping fees), but with an incompetent government in control of the situation, any ideas how many owners in the state (both power and sail) are no longer going to be permitted to use their boats without some form of "government approval" (read big $$$)??

It's totally insane..

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Last edited by Classic30; 08-05-2010 at 07:01 PM.
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post #10 of 24 Old 08-05-2010
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One gallon of gasoline, properly applied, will move a 2,000 pound Volkswagen Beetle about 30 miles.

That's about the same weight and distance that a 16" gun on a battleship throws a single round that weighs about the same thing.

Gasoline is SUPPOSED TO EXPLODE, like pretty much all fuels.

Which is why there are even a couple of states in the US where it is illegal to pump your own gasoline into your car. No fooling, it is supposed to be too dangerous to allow drivers to do it themselves. That's what they claim and (ha) what government would lie about a thing like that?

Of course, we also have bans on cigarette smoking at gas stations, and somehow, a couple of folks set themselves and the stations on fire, each year, every year, while smoking at the same time that they are fueling. So who would expect boaters to be any smarter?

Seller was criminally negligent, buyer was...let's be kind and just say "uneducated". Sounds like a recipe for disaster. I'm not sure I'd like the alternative, which would be requiring "gasoline education and certification" before allowing anyone to buy, fuel, or operate any vehicle using it as a fuel.
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