Gas detectors.

All boats with gas systems aboard must have a detector fitted for safety.

This detector must have a regular check period. The simplest check is to squirt some lighter fuel on the detector and see it the alarm activates.

The problem with gas alarms is that they are very unreliable, especially when the detector head has got wet. As they need to be sited low down, this happens easily.

As a result they frequently go off when there is no gas present. When this occurs out at sea on a voyage it is a major worry.

I have had a alarm operate in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, in a gale at 2 am, and not been able to find any gas leakage. A similar event on a crossing from the Caribbean to the Azores caused a diversion to Bermuda for repairs, no leakage was found in either case!

You can imagine the problems this situation causes.

As a result I now carry a small portable gas detector and can use this to confirm the main alarms accuracy.

The excellent unit is made by Omnimax, is the size of a large pen and cost about £50. For the peace of mind of having this aboard the cost is very minor and I thoroughly recommend that all cruising yachts have one as a back up to their main system.

These can be purchased at Mailspeed Marine. is free to use, but if you feel you would like to contribute to the running and development costs you can donate via Paypal:

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