Smoke on the Water
Pat is drying off , no doubt wishing he were a second-year cadet, when Jeff throws another problem my way. “There’s smoke coming from the port engine compartment!” he yells to me. “What do you do?” I kill the engines, the right thing to do, and duck belowdecks to find the extinguisher. Wrong. I should stay at the helm and assign someone else on board to prepare the fire extinguisher. Then I should use my VHF to alert the Coast Guard of our situation on Channel 16.
I walk back to open the port hatch. Jeff reminds me not to open it all the way. “Crack the hatch to put the nozzle in,” Jeff says, “and empty the extinguisher.” Empty it even if the fire looks to be out. One of the biggest problems with engine compartment fires is reflash, so you can’t over-extinguish.
If the fire extinguishers aren’t working, have the crew don life jackets and stand by with buckets of water. On a twin-engine boat, use the good engine to point the bow into the wind so the flames and smoke don’t go down into the cabin or around the helm.
We put out the imaginary fire (which came courtesy of a smoke machine) and use the working engine to head to the nearest safe harbor, with me at the helm awaiting the next fiasco.