The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has issued a stark warning to boaters following the deaths of two people on board a motor cruiser in Wrexham Broad
11 May 2017
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is recommending that carbon monoxide alarms are fitted to all new recreational boats and on board existing vessels using inland waterways.
It comes following an investigation into the deaths of two people on board the motor cruiser, Love for Lydia, in June 2016.
The MAIB report, released today, reveals Alan Frost, 64, and 51-year-old Tina Wilkins died of carbon monoxide poisoning, alongside their dog.
The Doral 250SE sports motor cruiser, which was the couple’s first boat, was discovered moored alongside Wroxham Island, River Bure in Norfolk on 9 June 2016.
The bodies of the couple were discovered in the forepeak by a passing ice cream vendor, and the emergency services were contacted.
A post mortem examination confirmed that both Alan Frost, who was a retired carpenter and had previously hired boats on the Broads, and his long term partner, Tina Wilkins had died from inhaling the CO in the exhaust fumes from the boat’s main engine.
An investigation by the MAIB found that the CO from the ‘wet’ exhaust at the stern of the boat spread under the canvas canopy and into the forepeak cabin where it quickly reached lethal concentrations.
This area of the boat was not well ventilated, with the cabin’s deck hatch and port holes shut.
It concluded that Love for Lydia’s engine was probably running in order to charge the boat’s batteries, “but the risk of CO poisoning from the external engine exhaust might not have been recognised” by the couple.
The MAIB found that the cruiser’s eight-cylinder petrol engine’s un-catalysed exhaust fumes contained high levels of CO.
“The risk of engine emissions entering the boat’s enclosed spaces was significantly increased by ‘station-wagon’ effect, which can occur when a boat is stationary or underway.”
The so-called ‘station-wagon’ effect is a phenomenon in which emissions from a boat’s exhaust accumulate behind the boat or travel back into the boat due to pressure differential, usually when the boat is underway.
As a result, CO spreads into habitable spaces.
“A domestic CO alarm would have alerted Love for Lydia’s occupants to the presence of CO but the boat was not fitted with one. There is no requirement for recreational craft, including those intended for overnight sleeping, to be fitted with a CO alarm,” noted the MAIB in its report.
It also noted that the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD), which sets minimum requirements of a boat which guarantee its suitability for sale and use within the European Union and EEA, also doesn’t include CO alarms, only that there is the ability to adequate ventilate cabins and other habitable spaces.
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The MAIB said it had investigated four accidents in four years where seven people have tragically died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning on boats.
“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and there are many sources of it on boats, including engines, cookers, heaters and even barbecues,” stated the MAIB
“Today, we have made safety recommendations to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, British Marine and the Boat Safety Scheme to increase awareness of the dangers and promote the fitting of carbon monoxide alarms.”
“For boaters, the message is clear: fit an alarm.”
The MAIB stressed that it was a common misconception that CO alarms are prone to ‘false alarms’, and that the deaths of Alan Frost and Tina Wilkins showed that the dangers of CO are still not fully understood by all leisure boaters.
It recommended to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that it builds on its current initiatives on raising awareness of the dangers of CO and the importance of fitting carbon monoxide alarms on board.
Watch the MAIBs Carbon Monoxide Safety Warning video below
“Efforts should be focused on, inter alia: Raising awareness of the likely sources of carbon monoxide, including from other boats; the dangers of using inappropriate or poorly installed fossil-fuel burning equipment; recognising the early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of ventilation in habitable areas.”
British Marine is recommended to seek clarification from the Recreational Craft Sectoral Group concerning whether a requirement to install carbon monoxide detection systems falls within the scope of the RCD’s essential requirements.
The Boat Safety Scheme is recommended to make the installation of carbon monoxide alarms a requirement for recreational craft participating in the Boat Safety Scheme.
This should take into account, among other things, the:
- Potential risk posed to other boat users by carbon monoxide-rich engine emissions;
- Various sources of carbon monoxide on board recreational craft;
- Number of recent deaths of recreational boaters caused by carbon monoxide poisoning;
- Relatively low cost of carbon monoxide alarms.
10 August 2016
A safety bulletin has been issued by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) warning of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning on boats.
It follows the deaths of Alan Frost and Tina Wilkins in June.
The couple, along with their pet dog, died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
They were on board the Doral 250 SE motor cruiser, Love for Lydia, at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads.
Their bodies were discovered by police officers after concerns were raised about the length of time the vessel had been moored in the same location.
The motor cruiser was close to Wroxham Island on the River Bure.
The MAIB’s safety bulletin calls for boaters to fit carbon monoxide alarms, similar to those used in caravans and homes.
The MAIB chief inspector, Steve Clinch, said: “Carbon monoxide alarms are commonplace in our homes and in caravans, but the tragic deaths of a couple and their dog on Love for Lydia are a reminder of the dangers of carbon monoxide on boats.”
“This is the third double fatality due to carbon monoxide poisoning that we have investigated in around three years,” he added.
Clinch said there were many sources of carbon monoxide on boats including “engines, generators, solid fuel burners and cookers.”
“Canopies on deck can allow poisonous gases to build up, quickly reaching fatal levels. Ventilation is essential,” he stressed.
“Carbon monoxide is a silent killer with symptoms similar to colds and flu. If carbon monoxide is suspected, it is important to stop the source, get to fresh air and seek medical attention. A carbon monoxide alarm could save your life,” warned Clinch.
A video highlighting these dangers has also been produced by MAIB.
The full report into the deaths of Alan Frost and Tina Wilkins will be published by the MAIB once investigations are complete.
An inquest into their deaths has been opened and adjourned until November 2016.
24 June 2016
Alan Frost and Tina Wilkins, along with their pet dog, died while on holiday on their motor cruiser on the River Bure, near Wroxham Broad.
An inquest into their deaths has now been opened, as police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.
Officers are still treating the couple’s deaths as unexplained, but have stressed their are no suspicious circumstances.
The couple were found on their motor cruiser, Love for Lydia, on 9 June by the police.
The alarm had been raised due to the length of time the vessel had been moored in the same location.
Norfolk assistant coroner David Osborne confirmed that a post mortem examination showed the couple had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The inquest was then adjourned until a full hearing on 30 November.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has already started an investigation into the deaths.
14 June 2016
Norfolk Police say further toxicology tests will need to be carried out on the bodies of two people who were found dead on board their motor cruiser.
Post mortem examinations have proved inconclusive.
The police discovered the bodies of a man in his 60s and a woman in her 50s on the cruiser, Love for Lydia on 9 June.
Officers were called after concerns were raised about the length of time the vessel had been moored in the same location.
The motor cruiser was close to Wroxham Island on the River Bure.
Following the discovery, it was towed to the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club.
In a statement, Norfolk Police said: “Post mortem examinations today (Tuesday 14 June 2016) have proved inconclusive and further toxicology tests are required; however, police are not treating the deaths as suspicious.”
It continued: “The seal in place around the boat has now been removed and officers will prepare a file for the coroner ahead of an inquest which will take place in due course.”
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has now launched its investigation into the deaths.
In a statement, it said it had started a new investigation into “a CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning resulting in two fatalities on board the motor cruiser Love for Lydia in Wroxham, Norfolk on 9 June 2016”.
10 June 2016
The bodies of two people and a dog were discovered by police officers on board the motor cruiser at around 4pm on 9 June.
Norfolk Police had been called to Wroxham Broad following concerns for safety due to the length of time the vessel had been in that location.
The motor cruiser was moored near to Wroxham Island on the River Bure.
The river around the island was closed by the police whilst officers from Great Yarmouth CID carried out their investigations. It has now re-opened
The police say they are initially treating the deaths as unexplained.
Details about the white motor cruiser are not being released until next of kin have been informed.
The vessel has been towed to the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club.
Initially the incident was thought to involve “possible hazardous materials”.
As a result, the Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service, Happisburgh, Mundesley and Winterton Coastguard Rescue Teams, the Hemsby Broads Rescue Independent Lifeboat and the East of England Ambulance Service all attended.
A Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service spokesperson said: “The Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service were requested to support the ambulance and police at this incident. Two sets of resources were sent to deal with possible hazardous materials and with an incident involving water. This included a range of equipment, appliances and skilled personnel.”
A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “At about 4.15pm today (9 June) East of England Ambulance Service asked the UK Coastguard for assistance at an incident outside Norfolk Broads Yacht Club, Wroxham. The Ambulance service reported that two persons on board a white sports boat appeared unresponsive and they required support to secure the vessel so that they could provide medical assistance.”
The spokesman continued: “Happisburgh, Mundesley and Winterton Coastguard Rescue Teams and Hemsby Broads Rescue Independent Lifeboat have been sent to the location to provide assistance to the Norfolk Police, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance service.”