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Old 06-06-2014, 13:17   #1
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Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

After a nice afternoon at the beach, you return to your boat find to the heavy scent of propane belowdecks and a monkey up your mast starring down grinning at you. A quick check of your propane locker reveals an empty cylinder. Now what?

Obviously, getting as far away as possible from the boat is probably your best first move. Calling the fire department the second. But what if you are far away and there is no fire department to rescue you?

Grab a bucket and start bailing? Chunk of hose and siphon? Sleep on the beach and come back the next day? What?
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:25   #2
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

I'll have what he's having. That sounds like one heck of a ride.

Assuming the boat is at anchor and the power is off to everything the propane should disipate rather quickly. Turn off the propane and open the hatches being careful of enclosed areas or anything that might spark. If it's at a dock, kill the power at the dockside breaker or just unplug.

Not clear how the monkey bailing or syphon factor in.
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:26   #3
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

I would start by opening every hatch I could reach from outside, telling everyone in the area and barricading the dock if need be. Then I would sleep on the beach.

I've done a few accident investigations. Messy, and the ignition source can be as little as static. The best thing to do is leave. It is very unlikely that you will have ready access to a gas-rated ventilating equipment. The fire department should.

---

Corollary: have you tested your propane sensors (cats have 2) this spring? I have.
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:30   #4
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

I have a solar Nicro vent that negatively
ventilates the boat 24/7. That bit of air
movement should easily handle the slightly
heavier than air propane. No?
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:32   #5
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

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Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
After a nice afternoon at the beach, you return to your boat find to the heavy scent of propane belowdecks and a monkey up your mast starring down grinning at you. A quick check of your propane locker reveals an empty cylinder. Now what?

Obviously, getting as far away as possible from the boat is probably your best first move. Calling the fire department the second. But what if you are far away and there is no fire department to rescue you?

Grab a bucket and start bailing? Chunk of hose and siphon? Sleep on the beach and come back the next day? What?
You really need to do anything possible to contact someone trained. The emphasis initially is twofold. All electric of all types off. Also stay away from the area. What a professional would then do is air out the area and only when all the propane gone, they would say it's ok to return.

What in the world would you be doing with propane below deck?
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:33   #6
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pirate Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Whale manual bilge pumps work very well..
And next time you head ashore.. don't leave Salty alone on the boat.. and check your bottles turned off..
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:34   #7
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

You need to find whoever set up the monkey as a fall guy. Monkeys don't know how to rotate knobs. Honest.

So you open the hatches, leave the firemen alone, grab a big piece of cardboard or something to fan the propane out of the bilge. And hopefully, if you have an automatic bilge pump switch, it is explosion-safe.
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:44   #8
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pirate Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Opening hatches etc or waving cardboard around is not gonna clear it out.. its heavier than air and will lay in the lower sections of the boat.. all you'll achieve is to move it back and forth.. it needs to be sucked out at the lowest level and your manual bilge pump will do that..
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Old 06-06-2014, 13:48   #9
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Ahh!! You have one of those silly leaky boats with thru hull prop shafts, so the bilge pumps run on a regular basis. We got rid those so our bilges are dry.

Assuming you didn't cheap out the bilge pumps for gas engine rooms should be explosion protected but I might turn them off while assessing the situation. Assuming you have a vent for the engine, that should also be protected and I might turn that on if the switch is easily at hand.

Still unclear how you put the monkey to use.
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Old 06-06-2014, 15:27   #10
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Day 2....installed a kero cooker!
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Old 06-06-2014, 15:35   #11
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Even though propane is heavier than air it will dissipate with time. Just open the hatches and don't do anything stupid for a hour or two.
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Old 06-06-2014, 16:12   #12
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

This reminds me of when I was in high school.. Used to work at a service station that filled propane bottles and vehicles...

When the temperature would drop below -30C, the propane would stay in a liquid state and barely turn to gas when pumped in open air.. One of the guys used to spray the valve in the open air create a "Mist Ball" of liquid propane (maybe 1/4 of a 20lb bottle worth). He would then flick a match at the cloud. The resulting fireball was impressive and the heat could be felt for 40 feet or so..

That gave me a healthy respect for Propane.. I can't image a whole bottle of propane igniting and being contained in a boat.. Pretty sure there would just be splinters..
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Old 06-06-2014, 16:31   #13
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Row back to shore.
Take out insurance policy immediately.
Get some bannana covered flares...


I would probably fill the boat with C02 immediately.
Then devise a way to displace it with normal air
by vaccuming it out of the bilge with a long hose from far away..
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Old 06-06-2014, 16:45   #14
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

Doesn't every boat have engine ventilation? Those all are gas safe.... or they wouldn't have a use.
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Old 06-06-2014, 16:53   #15
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Re: Riddle Me This? Propane Safety?

"Doesn't every boat have engine ventilation? "
Ah, but is that blower on an explosion-proof switch? Or just a cheap breaker? Or plain switch and fuse?

I know someone who set a printing press on fire, by slopping too much of the wrong solvent on it before hitting the $1.19 regular light switch they used as a poser switch on it. After the fire the repairman installed the same kind of switch...instead of using a proper BOM *Bureau of Mines) certified explosion-proof switch, which would have prevented the fire in the first case. But, hey, it saved him more than twenty bucks. (sigh)
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