What Are We Smoking?
Part 3: A personal experience recently strengthened my convictions.
By Capt. John McDevitt
Smoke alarms should be standard equipment on all pleasureboats with sleeping quarters, yet the boating industry hasn’t really addressed the issue. In the RV world, a trade organization called the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has promulgated and enforced smoke alarm rules since about 1982 (and CO alarms since 1993). In fact, some conscientious yacht manufacturers—Ocean Yachts, Tiara, and Hatteras to name a few—voluntarily equip their new boats with smoke alarms. Meanwhile, in the absence of rules or proactive manufacturers, it’s up to boaters to take the initiative. If you use your boat for overnight stays, get quality alarms that meet UL standards for RVs. Install them in dry areas in and adjacent to staterooms, and test them regularly according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
A personal experience recently strengthened my convictions. Last November I was making my way south on my fourth fall delivery from New Jersey to Florida. The vessel was a brand-new 65-foot sportfisherman with the best of everything. Our first night found us in Coinjock, North Carolina. After a good dinner ashore, we returned to a faint odor of something burning. There was no smoke, just that elusive smell of what seemed to be an electrical fire. We investigated the odor for nearly a half-hour and came up with nothing. Exhausted from 11 hours on the water, we shut down all nonessential A.C. and D.C. gear and retired for the night.
We never did find the source of the odor, but I didn’t sleep very well that night, knowing I didn’t have the protection of a smoke alarm. Don’t find yourself in that situation. I now carry a smoke alarm in my boat-delivery gear bag. I hope it will never go off, but I do sleep better knowing it’s there.
This article originally appeared in the August 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.