Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Carbon Monoxide and the Catamaran Sailor

  1. #1

    Default Carbon Monoxide and the Catamaran Sailor

    Carbon monoxide is not only a deadly killer, it is also tricky. It sneaks up on you. It can kill in just a few minutes, or it can build up over time to reach dangerous levels in your blood. It binds to hemoglobin in your blood cells making it impossible for your red blood cells to pick up oxygen. When it builds up gradually, you don't turn blue from hypoxia because carbon monoxide keeps your hemoglobin a nice pink color as you die.

    Carbon monoxide is odorless, and you don't knows it there until you get sick from it, and even then you might not figure out that it's the carbon monoxide that's causing the problem unless you have carbon monoxide detectors on board.

    So how will carbon monoxide get to you on board?

    First, you need an exhaust gas leak, and a pinhole leak somewhere in the exhaust system will work just fine.

    Second, you need a path for the carbon monoxide to get from the source to a place where humans are located.

    Many catamarans have bunks in the stern that lift up to gain access to the engine compartment for working on the engine. I don't like this design because if there is an exhaust leak, it can admit carbon monoxide into the aft cabin, and it can spread in the interior of the boat. On Exit Only, we do not have access to the engine compartments from inside the boat, and I have kept it that way because I don't want to have a chance of a carbon monoxide leak into the yacht's interior. I usually don't run an engine under a bunk where a person is sleeping as a safety precaution against an insidious carbon monoxide leak that could gas a person sleeping over the engine in the aft cabin.

    Sometimes at sea, I will be working on an engine while the second engine is running in the other hull. This is not an entirely safe thing to do because carbon monoxide can come from the other engine compartment through wiring tubing and tiller tubing that runs between the two engine compartments. It goes without saying that I never close the engine compartment that I am working on, especially when the other engine is running.

    It would seem to me that if you have engine access from the interior of your yacht, you should have carbon monoxide detectors to protect your crew from carbon monoxide poisoning.

    What precautions do you have on board your yacht to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning? Do you use carbon monoxide detectors in your engine room or aft cabints?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    50% Uk 50% on my boat
    Posts
    5,397

    Default Re: Carbon Monoxide and the Catamaran Sailor

    Yes - I have always used and will always use detectors on my boat.
    Safe Sailing
    Paul
    Blog: www.suliere.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    932

    Default Re: Carbon Monoxide and the Catamaran Sailor

    It's probably more likely to be Carbon Dioxide than monoxide when we are talking about boats with diesels, and gas appliances.

    Carbon monoxide is created when e.g. a hydrocarbon of some sort does not combust fully,probably due to there not being enough oxygen around the combustion area. This is not very likely on diesels that have a large excess air co-efficient, not like a burner in a boiler.

    A smoky exhaust will probably mean formation of more CO.

    CO weighs nearly the same as air, whereas CO2 is much heavier and will sink down in the boat.

    Alan

  4. #4

    Default Re: Carbon Monoxide and the Catamaran Sailor

    I never distinguished between diesel and gas engines with respect to the production of carbon monoxide. Interesting.

    I'm cautious about carbon monoxide. When I lived in Arabia, we periodically heard about third world people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning because they used a charcoal grill in a closed up apartment without ventilation resulting in the death of the entire family.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Denmark
    Posts
    932

    Default Re: Carbon Monoxide and the Catamaran Sailor

    Sorry for causing confusion Dave, when I said gas, I meant propane/butane not petrol

    In an enclosed space with say a wood/charcoal stove that's burning, once the oxygen content starts dropping from around 20.8% vol., the ratio of CO produced compared to CO2 will gradually increase....

    Anyway, both gasses will kill you if there is not enough oxygen around...but CO is really the killer as Dave says.



    Concentration Symptoms
    35 ppm (0.0035%) Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure
    100 ppm (0.01%) Slight headache in two to three hours
    200 ppm (0.02%) Slight headache within two to three hours
    400 ppm (0.04%) Frontal headache within one to two hours
    1,600 ppm (0.16%) Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 minutes. Insensible within two hours.
    3,200 ppm (0.32%) Headache, dizziness and nausea in five to ten minutes. Death within 30 minutes.
    6,400 ppm (0.64%) Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Death in less than 20 minutes.
    12,800 ppm (1.28%) Unconsciousness after 2-3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes.

    Alan

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •