In November 2002, Perelandra
was the victim of an unfortunate gasoline fire (she was equipped with an
old Gray Marine Sea Scout gasoline engine).
| 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?
What Happened, Please?
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
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
| 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