Club Marine calls for vigilance following inboard fires


Marinised inboard owners urged to be wary of fuel leaks and poor workmanship

Club Marine has warned owners of boats with marinised inboard car-engines to be vigilant following a spate of recent fires and explosions on skiboats and other inboard-powered boats around Australia.

"Club Marine has long recognised that there can be heightened risk associated with petrol engine-powered ski and other craft," said Club Marine CEO Greg Fisher. "That’s why we have a special inboard and performance skiboat assessment report that we require to be filled out in certain circumstances before providing insurance coverage for these craft.

"Boats with car engines that have been converted, or marinised, are certainly over-represented when it comes to fires and explosions, and older boats are more prone to problems," said Fisher. "Some conversions may not have been performed as professionally as owners might think, and fuel leaks and electrical problems, such as non-spark-arrested starter-motors or alternators, can turn some of these craft into floating time bombs."

Club Marine said it was particularly concerned with craft that are used primarily on a seasonal basis, and that spend long periods of time inactive or in storage. Minor fuel leaks, and subsequent vapour pockets in bilges and other hard-to detect areas, can result in catastrophic fires, damage, and serious injury or even death to occupants.

"Many boat owners don’t realise that fuel vapour can build up undetected on their boats over time," said Fisher.

"Something as simple as a minor fuel spill when refuelling can produce a pocket of vapour in a boat. Then all it takes is a spark or naked flame, and in a split second the boat is engulfed in flames.

"In our experience, boats with dedicated inboard marine engines tend to have less claims for fire-related damage than those with converted car engines.

"We’d encourage all owners of inboard-powered craft to conduct regular inspections of their boats and all fuel and electrical systems.

"And we’d particularly urge that they have their boats regularly serviced by recognised professional service centres to ensure the safety of themselves and their occupants."

Onboard safety equipment, especially fire extinguishers, should be in good working condition, and Club Marine suggests owners of inboard petrol-powered craft should consider installing quality vapour detectors and warning systems on their craft.

Club Marine said owners of skiboats and other inboard petrol-powered craft can refer to the Club Marine Inboard Inspection Report, which can be found in the Forms section on www.clubmarine.com.au. The form is a useful guide to what areas need particular attention when inspecting an inboard-powered craft.

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