Boating safety is nothing you can ever take for granted, which I dramatically learned on a recent outing aboard my Carver 534 Express Cruiser. My college roommate had flown in from the East Coast to visit for a few days, so we thought it would be great to grab some sun and fun aboard Endless Summer II. On our way to a favorite overnight spot off the Willamette River we decided to stop for fuel. As a lifelong boater with over 35 years of experience, I performed all the safety steps for safe fueling: all electronics and appliances off, cabin door and all hatches and windows closed, engines off, nozzle grounded, etc. There was one thing though that I had overlooked.I was watching the fueling process from the cockpit and fortunately I looked overboard.
I noticed a light sheen of gas on the water and thought, “Where could that be coming from?” On closer examination, I saw that gas was dripping into the water from my boat! I immediately stopped the fueling process and began looking for the source of the fuel. Imagine my surprise and shock when, upon opening the engine hatch, I noticed 12 gallons of raw gas in the bilge! Immediately I informed the gas dock attendant that we had a major problem. I cut my main power switches so the automatic bilge pump would not trigger, turned off the emergency power switch at the gas dock, and then proceeded to fill the bilge with water and soap to reduce the danger. We then carefully siphoned the water/gas mixture using an all-plastic bilge pump (no sparks) into a drum on the dock.What was the cause of this potentially deadly situation? I had taken things for granted. The gas hose from the filler to the tank had fallen off because both clamps had become loose over the years and I had failed to check them. Now I always check everything whenever I fuel – just to make sure – and I would encourage other boaters to learn from my lesson.