Boat Fire Safety

It was just another routine fishing trip out of Freeport for four men aboard a 40-foot Viking.  The weather was good and everyone was excited about the prospects of a great trip.  Then someone smelled smoke.

A quick peek under the hatch revealed flames coming from the aft end of one of the engines.  After depleting all available fire extinguishers down the hatch, the fire was still going and the boat was rapidly filling up with smoke.  His recent decision to replace that aging life raft with a new larger one seemed smarter than ever as the owner watched his buddies deploy it along side his now sinking boat.

From the bridge station his VHF radio mayday call to the Coast Guard was being answered with a position request.  What’s my GPS coordinates?  An easy enough question under normal circumstances.  Not so simple now though.  How do I get my position to display on the GPS?  As the coast guard operator repeated his request for a lat/long position his eye locked in on that big red flip cover on his VHF radio with the word “DISTRESS” printed on it.  He flip up the cover and pressed the button.  With that, the problem was solved.  Within seconds, the Coast Guard confirmed his position report.  Only thing left to do now was to board the life raft, watch his prized possession melt into the depths of the Gulf, and wait for help to arrive.

These three simple steps could save your life:

  1. Make sure you have an operating VHF radio & GPS receiver
  2. Connect the pair of data wires between the radio & GPS
  3. Obtain & program your MMSI into the VHF radio

Need help on how accomplishing these basic steps to increase your safety on the water?  Go to our home page at and click on the red “Subscribe” button to receive our free newsletter and we’ll send you everything you need to know.