Carbon Monoxide and Diesel Engines

Starting in 1998, the American Boat and Yacht Council standards began requiring carbon monoxide (CO) detectors on boats with gasoline powered propulsion engines and/or generators. The standard doesn’t apply to boats with diesel engines, which produce only about 10% of the CO of their gasoline counterparts.
While diesels are certainly far safer, there is at least one situation where a diesel powered boat could easily become surrounded by a deadly cloud of carbon monoxide—when it’s rafted with other boats that are using gasoline generators. In that situation, CO from the exhaust of one boat could easily be pulled into the vent on another.

Certainly, any boat with a gasoline propulsion engine or generator and sleeping accommodations should have a CO detector installed in each sleeping compartment. But if you own a diesel–powered boat and raft-up with gasoline powered boats, it would be smart to also install a CO detector. The only safe alternative would be to anchor away from the raft-up before going to bed.

Old Boats and Winter

A lot of older boats are bought by inexperienced owners who were lured into the purchase because they “got a lot of boat for the money.” Older boats, much like their human counterparts, typically need more care and attention to keep them healthy. This is especially true in winter, when a boat and its systems are tested by heavy winds, precipitation and freezing temperatures.

If you’re in the market for a boat, be aware that older boats, despite their considerable charms, are liable to require more maintenance. Do you have the time and/or money to assure its upkeep? A member in Maryland wrote Seaworthy recently about a boat he had owned for many years. The boat had been sold and the member hoped the owner would lavish the necessary care to keep it in good condition. Instead, he said it was used infrequently and ignored. This past winter it sank and was declared a total loss. The letter was signed “From someone who likes boats.”