Category Archives: Technical

MAIB report on accident leading to fatalities due to carbon monoxide poisoning

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has just published their report into the tragic accident on Lake Windemere last April where two people lost their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning. The report makes very sobering reading, and whilst it examines in some detail the reasons for the build up of carbon monoxide in the boat, it also shows how quickly the effects of the gas can take hold, and how easy it is to miss the early warning signs. It is well worth all boaters reading it. The report can be found at:

There are a number of recommendations made in the report, including raising awareness of the dangers of using portable generators on boats, the dangers of DIY installations when dealing with carbon monoxide producing appliances, and the importance of the use of properly maintained CO alarms. The Boat Safety Scheme will be increasing the focus on these aspects in future examinations, and the BSS have welcomed the report – their response can be found at:

The BSS has published “Carbon Monoxide Safety on Boats”, which can be found at:

In addition, the BSS has produced the following Top Tips for staying safe from carbon monoxide:

Ten Essential CO Safety Tips for Boats
Over 30 boaters have died in the last 20 years from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.
It is a toxin that replaces the oxygen in the bloodstream, blocking supplies to vital organs. At low concentrations it can cause chronic illness, at higher levels it kills.
This deadly poison gas has multiple potential sources on boats including all fuelburning appliances, flues, chimneys, engines and exhausts.
Staying safe begins with installing all such equipment properly, in the way the maker describes.
Letting maintenance drift, or putting-off repairs is a risk, as is ignoring running instructions. Crew members need to understand the risks and know the danger signs; they must always be watchful.
These are the ten CO essentials that will help keep you and your crew safe:-
1) All the crew should know the symptoms of CO poisoning and how to react if it is suspected
2) Install fuel burning appliances properly, in-line with makers directions
3) Follow servicing guidelines; maintenance should be routine and competent – Don’t allow bodged repairs, adjustments and adaptations
4) Always use appliances as per the instructions and never use cookers for space heating
5) Don’t block ventilation – appliance fuels like gas, coal, wood, oil, paraffin, etc. need sufficient air to burn safely
6) Don’t bring charcoal BBQs on board, or have them near a cabin during or after use – only stone-cold charcoal is safe
7) Keep engine fumes out of the cabin space, never use a portable generator in or near a cabin
8) Learn about the danger signs, spot potential hazards before CO occurs
9) Deal with problems immediately, never use equipment you suspect has problems
10) Install a certified CO alarm (BS EN 50291-2), test it routinely and never remove the batteries
For more tips and advice to help you and your crew stay safe go to

Latest RYA Advice on Biodiesel

Low-sulphur fuel now being supplied

Since 1 January this year quayside fuel suppliers have been legally required to supply gas oil that contains a sulphur content of no more than 10 milligrams of sulphur per kilogram of fuel (mg/kg).
Fuel supplied to road vehicles has been subject to this lower sulphur limit for a number of years.
The new limit covers all Non-Road Mobile Machinery,  a (EU speak) definition which includes inland water-ways vessels and recreational craft that do not normally operate at sea.

Ask for biodiesel free fuel

The fuel you will be supplied with now will still be red but will be virtually sulphur free dependent on where you normally use your boat. However, it is possible  that the fuel being supplied could also contain biodiesel. It is important therefore that you ask for biodiesel free fuel when you are filling up.
Biodiesel has strong solvent and detergent properties in its pure form and can cause problems during storage and on certain materials used in fuel system components.Furthermore if we don’t ask for low-sulphur biodiesel-free fuel then the fuel industry will not be encouraged to produce and supply it.

Why will fuel now contain biodiesel?

Fuel suppliers had originally planned to meet the new requirements largely by supplying road diesel, which does contain biodiesel, with a red marker dye.
By doing this they could avoid the need to produce a third grade of fuel specifically for inland water-ways vessels and recreational craft which was biodiesel-free and low in sulphur.
Whilst most engines are fully compatible with fuel containing biodiesel in the proportion found in road fuel some fuel system components on older engines, in particular fuel seals and pipes, may not be compatible with biodiesel.
Aware that this was could cause potential problems for many boat owners the RYA and the marine industry spent a number of months lobbying producers and suppliers to produce that third grade of fuel.
As a consequence of this pressure many producers and suppliers have now indicated that they will make available a supply of bio-diesel-free sulphur-free diesel. But we need to be asking for it in order to ensure that it is made available.
You will find that there will be a variation in the specifications of fuel supplied to recreational craft, with high-sulphur biodiesel-free fuel, sulphur-free biodiesel-free fuel and sulphur-free fuel with some biodiesel content all being available on the market.
Supply is not therefore going to be uniform. So it is important that you ask at the pump what specification of fuel it is that you are buying and whether it contains biodiesel.

What should I do if I have to buy fuel containing biodiesel?

Remove all water from the tanks and check them monthly to ensure that they remain free of water.
Tanks that don’t already have drain points for removing water are likely to need modification.
Examine sight gauges on older fuel storage tanks for signs of leakage and replace any leaking seals.
If you are having tanks serviced before you receive the new fuel it would be advisable to replace fuel seals as a one-off, precautionary exercise.
Replace fuel filters after two to three deliveries/turnover of the new fuel.
Consider fitting dual filters in parallel with a changeover switch in case one blocks.
Ensure the content of tanks is turned over every six months or in any event no more than 12 months to help prevent blockage of filters and fuel pipe.
Users of older equipment should examine fuel systems in the months following the switchover and replace seals or pipes with compatible ones if there are signs of leakage.

BSS issues new advice about Petrol Safety on Boats

MARCH 2010: The BSS have published two news releases on the storage and use of petrol aboard boats.  If you have a boat which uses a petrol engine for propulsion, or if you carry a portable petrol generator on your boat which you use on or off the boat, then you will find these worth reading.

These are available as down-loadable files below.

Petrol Powered Craft – Be Vigilant NR00110 Petrol powered craft – be vigilant

Petrol Dangers with Portable Engines NR00210 petrol dangers with portable engines

The BSS has further advice on the subject here:

The BSS website is here:

In the past six years the BSS has recorded 34 incidents of fire or explosion linked to petrol engines on inland waterways and coastal boats. 31 people needed hospital treatment, including some in intensive care. In the same period, seven incidents of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning have been linked to generators and outboard motor exhaust fumes.

BSS issues Urgent Safety Notice about Gas Cookers

BSS has issued an urgent appeal to boaters who may remain at risk from potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning, to act on a safety alert from the manufacturers of Belling, Flavel, Leisure, and New World cookers.

Despite earlier warnings about the dangers and extensive efforts by the manufacturers and Trading Standards to contact affected customers, there are still around 12,000 appliances to be tracked down and boat owners could easily have one of these cookers.

The Boat Safety Scheme is advising any boat owners with the following appliances to contact the freephone number on 0800 342 3049 to have the appliance modified as soon as they can.

Belling G755 MkII White Leisure AL6NDW
Belling G755 MkII Anthracite Leisure CM10NRK
Belling GT755 White Leisure CM10NRC
Belling Countrychef 100G Silver Leisure CM101NRCP
Belling Countrychef 100G Anthracite Leisure CM101NRKP
New World Vision 50TWLM Silver LPG Flavel DCGAP5LS
New World Vision 50TWLM White LPG Flavel AP5LDWP
New World Vision 50WLM Silver LPG Flavel AP5LDW
New World Vision 50WLM White LPG Flavel AP5LDSP
Flavel Milano ML5NDS

See also these websites

SAFETY ALERT: portable gas cookers with integral gas canisters

The BSS have just released the attached alert on a specific type of portable stove with an integral gas canister.

“The release is made following incidents where people have been seriously burnt and is issued by the Boat Safety Scheme in association with Hampshire County Council Trading Standards.

There are many variants of such stoves and no single model or brand is implicated.

We have attached a generic image for your use and which is intended to reflect no one brand or model, but just a typical design.”

The alert discusses the possibilty of incorrect assembly which can result in the integral gas canister overheating with the possibility of a subsequent explosion.

The full information from the BSS is downloadable here nr00109-portable-gas-stoves-safety-alert-apr-09