So my last post was poking fun at the sometimes overly-serious people on the forums. We were so enjoying everyone chiming in good and bad, laughing, and folks recounting their own forum experiences. We lost a few followers and we gained a few. Such is life. We were enjoying the banter. That joy ended swiftly when Tuesday morning around 7:30 am Mel and I heard, from our v-berth, a loud explosion. We looked at each other completely confused. Confused until we heard a woman’s blood-curdling screams. We jumped out of bed as quickly as possible and onto the foredeck to see black smoking rising from a powerboat three boats over. As I ran to the boat Mel dialed 911.
I saw the owner (out of respect for the situation, I will not use his name), his wife, and four year-old son emerge from a heap of black smoke trying to get to the dock. He was badly burned. His shirt was all but gone, his gym shorts where blown apart and melted. His arms, hands, face, back… well the reports now say 90 % of his body… burned. He was in complete shock and his wife stood paralyzed, screaming. As we rushed him to the outdoor pool shower and made sure everyone else was clear, the fire took hold.
That simple act, meeting him, getting him to the shower and rushing back to the boat took about 1 minute. In that time, the fire doubled. Smoke was gushing from the hatches and flames began to rage. The property manager and I entertained the idea of grabbing the dock fire hose which was about 100 ft. away but decided to get to the street for fear the two 100-gallon GAS tanks and the propane would explode.
Certain our boat would be destroyed, we grabbed Jet and headed for the street to flag down the paramedics and fire fighters. I ran back and contemplated whether or not to move our boat. Could I get it started and get off the dock? Should I just grab our phones and computers and let insurance take care of the rest?The Fire Department arrived in minutes but boat fires are truly monsters. They engulf in seconds and fiberglass burns so hot, one firefighter told me, “Once it gets going, it’s almost impossible to put out without the boat sinking.” Two marine units showed up and spread thousands of gallons of foam on the fire and on the water, which was now full of fuel. The sailboat to port burst into flames as well the 38 foot powerboat to starboard. All in all, 3 boats were lost. Our friend’s boat was a leaking scrap of melted hull as she was towed away. Vacilando? She had two more boats between her and certain peril, but most importantly no lives were lost.
If that photo doesn’t scare the hell out of you then you can probably stop reading right about now. I did some checking… Do you know that 55% of all boat fires are due to faulty AC/DC wiring or appliances? 24% are caused by engine or transmissions overheating and only 8% are related to fuel leaks. Staggering. You can read an informative article about these causes here.