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Old 07-12-2011, 13:44   #16
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

It's not just the financial loss but the time and love that goes into making a boat your own. I share my condolences as well.
Electrical fires are a real threat on boats. On another thread we were taking about a windlass solenoid. The OP put up two photos of the solenoid and there were several suggestions on how to jump it to make it work in a pinch. But no one commented on the bad wiring. I know it was a little thing but these are just the type of spots that turn dreams into the nightmares above. Remember, when it comes to the electrical systems on your boat, just because it works, doesn't mean it's proper or safe.
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Old 07-12-2011, 14:35   #17
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some clarification

Thanks for all of your kind words and advice.

I've heard about starters sticking in the open posiition. The investigator thought it might have been the alternator or starter wires, but there was really no way to tell from the charred remains.

I had a Halon extinguisher in the engine compartment, but that only triggers at a certain heat, and not by smoke.

I wonder if there are ones that will trigger by smoke alone?

Thanks,
-Mathias
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Old 07-12-2011, 14:45   #18
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Re: some clarification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolphins View Post
Thanks for all of your kind words and advice.

I've heard about starters sticking in the open posiition. The investigator thought it might have been the alternator or starter wires, but there was really no way to tell from the charred remains.

I had a Halon extinguisher in the engine compartment, but that only triggers at a certain heat, and not by smoke.

I wonder if there are ones that will trigger by smoke alone?

Thanks,
-Mathias
Mathias,
In your blog you said your girlfriend reported that all the lights went out briefly, this would indicate a problem in the house wiring rather than the starter, unless you had a battery switch that was maybe in the all position. Did you attempt to turn the battery switch to the off position?
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Old 07-12-2011, 15:21   #19
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

I keep a multiple of fire systems aboard, one of them a 10 # Halon, which I keep by the gangway.

If I ever have a fire that is too fast to contain I'll grab the Halon, take it up on deck, close the hatches, lock down the halon and toss it inside, then close up everything. And that should cure the problem.

In this situation one would want to wait a little while before reopening the boat back up to avoid a re-ignition just from residual heat (a cool down period).
Halon uses the forth side of the fire triangle to extinguish (chemical reaction, depleting the oxygen), and it can kill humans/animals. Normally it's put in confined spaces and is set off by heat, BUT it has to be a confined space. IAW sealed off.

Fire fighting is a science, and common sense doesn't always work. It's best to get an education on this subject in class A,B,C,D & K fires . Put water on a class B or K fire and your in for a big problem. Aboard Navy Nukes there were E class.
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Old 07-12-2011, 15:23   #20
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

A really sad loss, my heart goes out to you both. it is said that it is an ill wind indeed that blows no good.

By sharing your experience this thread has opened a topic not frequently visited and has brought helpfull factual information from people with sound experience to all of us who follow this thread. It may be that your loss will save other from suffering a similar fate. Thank you for your courage in making the post.
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Old 07-12-2011, 16:11   #21
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

G'day, mate. Welcome aboard. Sorry for your loss and thanks for sharing the experience. Based on one of my early jobs that helped start building the cruising kitty, readers may find this helpful. Since most fire extinguishers aboard recreational boats are ABC (dry chemical) type units, this is a good "rainy day" activity to perform. An ABC fire extinguisher can be used on ordinary combustibles (paper, wood, etc.), liquids(grease, fuels, etc.) and fires involving electricity (electronics, outlets, etc.).

Twice a year, turn your fire extinguishers upside down and tap the bottom to prevent the dry chemicals from caking. This just helps to make sure you get as much dry chemical out of the extinguisher to help put out the fire. If the extinguisher has a gauge and is not in the green (most common) zone, get it serviced or replaced.

And remember PASS: Pull/Aim/Squeeze/Sweep (PULL the pin, AIM at the base of the fire, SQUEEZE the handle, and slowly SWEEP side to side) if you ever have to use it.

All the best, Cheers.
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Old 07-12-2011, 19:08   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dolphins
Thanks for all of your kind words and advice.

I've heard about starters sticking in the open posiition. The investigator thought it might have been the alternator or starter wires, but there was really no way to tell from the charred remains.

I had a Halon extinguisher in the engine compartment, but that only triggers at a certain heat, and not by smoke.

I wonder if there are ones that will trigger by smoke alone?

Thanks,
-Mathias
Smoke alarms. That seems like an excellent idea.

Many condolences for you loss.

My brother sent me the attached. Phuket, Yacht Haven. Last week. I don't have any details but what a loss. Not even sure if I have figured out which boat from the marina it was but appears to be the one furthest to the right in the first photo putside dock. The amazing part was the Thai marina crew floated the boat, in a blaze, out of the marina! My brother prepared to make way in the middle of the night in case they lost control of it in or around the anchorage.

Some big cajones on these Thai guys.

Bad things come in threes? I hope note.
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Old 07-12-2011, 19:31   #23
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pirate Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

Bummer.... and other appropriate comments above...
No advice to offer really...
Just proves one thing... no matter what... 'Murphy's Law' can still get you...
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Old 07-12-2011, 19:39   #24
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

Fire has always been my biggest concern on board Exit Only. There's lots of amps in the battery bank, and a dead short anywhere on the boat can result in a fire.

We cruised in the company of a south African catamaran when we were in the Bahamas. We later learned from the owners that an electrical fire burned that catamaran to the waterline.

One minute everything is fine. A minute later a total disaster if the fire cannot be extinguished.

I carry a life raft offshore when sailing in my catamaran - not because I am worried about sinking - but because I am worried about a fire.
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Old 07-12-2011, 20:19   #25
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

Dolphin,
Matthias,
I am too from the north and that is inland, but we somehow work our way to the sea. I too lost my boat about 15 years ago, so the calamity is now a memory, but everything I had was on it and it was lost. A lot of new stuff. A lot of work and ideas. I could rationalize it, there were other boats, older and older more important traditional boats that had made it over the years. The storm doesn't care,
The worst part was disposing of the remains. It still looked like the same old boat, there on the rocks, but when the tide came in, nothing moved. The boat was completely gone down below the waterline. I had to remove it and couldn't afford the estimates that I had from the local marine companies. I bought a chain saw and 3 blades. The fiberglass dulls them. I cut it up. I cut up new stuff that I had agonized over the design and then fabricated. It all went into a dumpster. I itched from the fiberglass and that was my penance. When it was almost all gone I had some sails, a registration plank, and a very low feeling. I was working and could begin again. People told me I was lucky not to be on it during the storm, but had I been, maybe I could have saved it.
My greatest fear now is fire at sea. We keep adding charging devices and batteries and electronics and wire and someday it could go whoosh. I had a fire on board once from a stove fire and killed it with buckets of seawater. If I wasn't there it would have gone up in flames. A boat at the head of the marina, a big sportfisherman, exploded in flame one night. The owner was a wealthy business owner who I knew as a fellow who would row around in the harbor much of the time. A real sailor (power boat sailor). He didn't seem to have much to say after his boat burned up. He had lost his wife a few years earlier. He was retired from his business, but it still paid him well. He could get another boat. He was looking for something smaller to fish with.
Maybe the sailors who are out there on a shoestring have got it right, nothing to loose, everything to gain. I hope you can get above the grief of your loss and realize that what you have done so far is above the normal plane of things and you can do it again, maybe make some changes, but you can do it again. I was able to, but time is getting short. Thanks for sharing your loss, I understand and I hope you show us how to move on.
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Old 07-12-2011, 21:00   #26
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

Battery isolate switch mounted where you can access it in the case of fire. After the power is off the fire is more likely to be controlled.
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Old 07-12-2011, 23:20   #27
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

Kaimu,

That is a very touching story. Thank you for opening up so much and sharing your loss and your feelings. It helps to know others have gone through the same. I know what you mean about the comment, "At least you two are alive" We kept hearing that, and somehow it bothered me. It was as if they weren't just with us. To experience our loss and acknowledge it. Of course, I understand that, as human beings, we want to make each other feel better. So the comment comes from good intentions. And I appreciate people's desire to make us feel better.

Some have asked if I was able to switch off the batteries. No, I didn't. It didn't occur to me.

Many times, I would imagine the exact procedure for abandon ship and launching the life raft, so I had that in my mind. But I never imagined the procedure for a fire. And even in my six-week training for my captain's llicense, and during all of the fire component we went through, we never discussed turning off the battery switch.

It is amazing how focused your mind becomes in emergencies. It is hard to keep a broad, open perspective. Your natural instincts are raging. In that moment, you feel like you have very little time to think about things. In reality you have seconds more than you think. And seconds are a lot in such situations. But yet, the adrenaline in your blood has changed your thinking from your upper parts of brain to your amygdala. And that amygdala doesn't want to process options. It wants you to get the hell out of there.

Next time, (God forbid) I will take a couple of seconds to reach for the battery switch. And next time (God willing) it will help.

-Mathias
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Old 07-12-2011, 23:26   #28
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

Better yet, there won't be a next time.

Sorry for your loss. Having built my boat myself, I can't begin to imagine how I'd feel if that happened.
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Old 08-12-2011, 00:02   #29
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Quote:
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Many times, I would imagine the exact procedure for abandon ship and launching the life raft, so I had that in my mind. But I never imagined the procedure for a fire. And even in my six-week training for my captain's llicense, and during all of the fire component we went through, we never discussed turning off the battery switch.
Fight or flee. Usually better to flee.

When I moved to Japan the local ward had a home safety seminar at the firehouse. They covered how to dial emergency, had a smoke tent to demonstrate crawling out of a burning house, where the evacuation congregation points were and an earthquake simulator. A pretty well spent afternoon.

The earthquake simulator was a small 3-sided kitchen mounted on a truck with hydraulic shaking rams. We were trained to shut of the gas, shut off the electrics and dive under the tiny table. We dutifuly complied and the most memorable part was sliding around under the table banging our heads together while all the Japanese watched..

I am sure we won some points from our neighbors for participating. Japanese like team efforts especially "stupid gaijin tricks."

The next time I was in a significant quake I was in a hotel room on the 8th floor sleeping. While the room continued to shake I got up and wandered over to the full length picture window and leaned out to see. I didn't learn a damn thing... I then got a clue put my pants on and decided to find the stairs. When I opened the hallway door and looked at the line at the elevator I thought, "Well at least I am not that dumb."

Dying in a fire is a horrific way to go. Too terrible to contemplate. Drowning is a close second. You were right to flee.

I'd like to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandpa, not screaming in terror like his passengers - sorry for the humor. Don't mean to make light of your tremendous loss.
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Old 08-12-2011, 00:10   #30
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Re: Fire sinks our Hans Christian

The other shut off needed is the fuel shut off valve. Haylon is not available in Australia & it is (IMO) the best if you can get it as there is no mess or damage to equipment after use. Thanks for bringing up this timely warning. It may save someones life in the future.

Regards Bill
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