Story of Perelandra
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In November 2002, Perelandra,
under her previous ownership,
was the victim of an unfortunate gasoline fire (she was
equipped with an old Gray Marine Sea Scout gasoline
Two years after the
fire, the owner, who had purchased another Seabreeze, considered selling
what remained of Perelandra. This page details my first
viewing of the boat on October 9, 2004: was I crazy enough to
consider this magnitude of project?
The story behind the fire is the sort of
thing that could happen to anyone, and highlights the potentially
volatile nature of gasoline.
The owner filled the gas tank, which was
located beneath the cockpit, full of fuel during his final preparations
for winter storage. We have all heard that full fuel tanks are
supposed to reduce the possibility of damaging condensation inside, so
filling the tank is logical. Attempting to start the engine in
order to run antifreeze through the cooling system, he found that the
engine simply would not start.
Through repeated cranking,
the batteries became substantially discharged. After
some time, he hooked up an AC battery charger to
reinvigorate the batteries for later starting
attempts or, failing that, to better prepare them for storage.
Eventually, to troubleshoot the engine problem, he removed the
carburetor for inspection and possible maintenance. Carefully
checking the throat to ensure that no fuel was leaking, he brought the
carburetor to the garage for alter attention, and headed for the garden.
Not long after, he remarked
that he heard two banging sounds. In the microseconds of time that
it takes for the human brain to process information, he thought to
himself, "That sounds like the cockpit locker lids slamming
shut"...and then, the further realization that, "Wait:
the lockers were closed; why might they have opened and then closed
Rushing to the boat, he jumped
on to find an inferno. With the only large fire extinguisher
helplessly out of reach at the forward end of the cabin (the engine room
and companionway were in flames), he realized that he'd never make
it, and instead jammed a Lexan/wood-framed drop board
into the companionway, slid closed the hatch, and
hastily climbed off the boat to wait for the fire
department. The 15 minutes it took for them to
arrive must have seemed an eternity.
The fire raged
for a couple hours before being brought under control. During that
time, flames shot out any available opening, including the garboard
drain and, impressively, the fuel tank vent located in the transom; it
was flames from there that not only caused the exterior hull damage seen
in the photos, but that also, according to the owner, sent 30' flames
shooting out towards the woods and fields beyond.
The cause: leaking gasoline from
the engine, from the removed carburetor, met an ignition source as a
result of the charging batteries.
Please click here to continue the story. >>>