Disaster Averted! – St Lawrence River – Day 33

We left Rimouski and headed down river again. The water no longer resembles a river but appears to be the ocean. Our destination was Matane, about a 60 mile run.

A boater’s worst nightmare almost happen to us in the Matane Marina.

As is customary, when gassing up a boat at a gas dock in a marina, you turn off all electrical devices on your boat — generator,circuit breakers, and let your engine-compartment blower run for a few minutes to expel all gas fumes to eliminate all possibilities of a spark-causing fire.

What you don’t expect is that the gas pump itself could cause a spark. Have you ever heard of a gasoline pump nozzle having an electric current running through it, enough to cause sparks right when the nozzle touches the gas-cap opening? That would be unheard of.

The nozzle end of the gas hose that was carrying 110 volts.

The nozzle end of the gas hose that was carrying 110 volts.

Well, that happen to me today. The attendant handed me the gas nozzle, and with the gas cap off, exposing the opening to the gas tank, and when the metal gas nozzle touched the metal opening to the gas tank, sparks flew, causing a small fire around the opening of the gas tank. I even felt a shock when this all happened.

We were fortunate to extinguish the flame immediately.

A mechanic came out with a voltage meter and determined that there were 110 volts coming through the gas metal nozzle. Evidently gas nozzles are wired from the pump, down through the hose to the nozzle, to allow it to shut off. Something was shorting out through the process on this pump.

 

The gas pump and electrically charged gas line going from the pump to a round drum to coil it up when not in use.

The gas pump and electrically charged gas line going from the pump to a round drum to coil it up when not in use.

So to avoid further risk, I got a plastic 5 gallon gas can and had the attendant fill it 12 times as I poured the gas into the boat’s tanks from the plastic gas can. I wanted to top off the gas as we are going over 200 miles tomorrow and I needed a reserve amount of fuel.

Needless to say, this could have been a huge diaster, with a bad ending. We certainly had someone watching over us. We will say extra prayers of thanks to the Good Lord tonight!

Getting gas at gas dock in Matane Marina by using 5 gallon plastic can.

Getting gas at gas dock in Matane Marina by using 5 gallon plastic can.

Cari next to replica of Viking ship in Matane Marina.

Cari next to replica of Viking ship in Matane Marina.

Having fun. I tried to carry the anchor to our boat to use in a pinch. Forget that! Each link weighed a ton.

Having fun. I tried to carry the anchor to our boat to use in a pinch. Forget that! Each link weighed a ton.

A boat in dry dock that has served many people well for many, many years.

A boat in dry dock that has served many people well for many, many years.

Leaving the marina at Matane as we ease out from between the two jetties.

Leaving the marina at Matane as we ease out from between the two jetties.

Leaving Rimouski heading down river to Matane.

Leaving Rimouski heading down river to Matane.

Late evening on the St Lawrence River, walking along the beach in Matane.

Late evening on the St Lawrence River, walking along the beach in Matane.


Comments

Disaster Averted! – St Lawrence River – Day 33 — 10 Comments

    • Hi Mike and thank you for your comments. Yes, this really has been an amazing trip so far…with about 30 some days to go. As long as we can stay away from sparks and 110 volt hot wires we will be just fine! Hope you have a terrific boating summer too.

      iboats’ Captain,

      Bruno

  1. This story still shakes me up! I’m so glad you guys are ok and I KNOW you are being prayed for and watched over every day!

    • Thank you Jennifer for your thoughts and prayers. We really feel that we were watched over and helped with this gasoline and electric sparks problem we had due to the faulty gas pump. Yes, we are very grateful!

      Dad

  2. That wire in the hose is so no static can build up at the nozzle and do just what you saw. In your case that wire was caring 110vdc or more than likely ac current due to problem with the pump wiring. That pump should have been turned off and not used at all after your incident. To go on filling anything is pure negligence on the part of the owner or employee. How do I know, aviation has grounding wires for the plane to ground, fuel nozzle to plane, and fuel truck to the same ground as the plane. This is so your experience doesn’t happen to a multi-million dollar plane as well as the person operating the nozzle. Plane and simple, if this happens to anyone stop, do not use that pump!! ddc

    • Thanks “D” for your explanation of what happened. I sure agree with you that such a gas pump should never be used until it is fixed. I told the marina people that.

      A question, how do you know…or how can you check…if a gas hose and nozzle might have such a problem before you start fueling up your plane or your boat? Is there something all of us should always do to check and insure that there is no electrical current in the hose and nozzle? Frankly, I’m a bit paranoid right now about having to fill up with gas at the next unknown place the next time we run low on fuel, which will be in the next couple of days.

      iboats’ Captain,

      Bruno

      • Bruno, Honestly, the only way I can think of is to touch the tip of the nozzle to some metal part not near an open fuel cap. Boats are all fiberglass or wood, and of coarse metal, so touch the nozzle tip to the unopened fuel cap or surrounding area prior to removing the cap to fill up. This would dissipate any static, or at least tell you there is a charge of some kind of energy present. I think all pumps are inspected annually for dispensing the proper quantity, but not sure if they check anything else. Good luck!

        • Thanks D. You can bet that I will be touching all gas nozzles to something metal before I open any gas tanks to see if there is static or other electricity present! Still feel uncomfortable about it, however.

          Bruno

  3. OH WOW!!! How grateful we all are that there was not an explosion!!! Thank you, Heavenly Father!!!!! I wonder if the same thing could happen at any gas station when fueling your car. Now I understand better why we are told to turn our car off and also don’t use other electronics around a gas pump – even a cell phone!

    • What I found out is that there is a coiled wire inside the gas hose, built in to give the hose extra strength. So that’s the wire running from one end of the gas hose…the end at the pump…to the other end which is where the metal nozzle is attached to to hose. The metal wire is supposed to be embedded inside the rubber hose itself and not exposed to anything else at either end. And of course there is not supposed to be any way that electricity can get shorting and going from the gas pump to the hose. Anyway, it was a miracle that the whole thing did not just explode! I still had a couple of hundred gallons on board in the tanks I was just topping off. When I saw the flame I jerked the nozzle away from it with one hand and slapped my other hand over the flame at the opening of the boat’s gas tank, smothering that fire out. I’d like to hear from others as to what they think caused all this.

      iboats’ Captain,

      Bruno

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