The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Networked Smoke Detectors Improve Liferaft Storage

While we don’t plan to go far offshore in our J/109, we did buy a liferaft as our emergency exit if we are suddenly faced with a fire or a leak that we are not able to stop.

We are often not carrying a dinghy, and even when we are it’s stowed deflated below, so both scenarios could have a nasty ending, even when day sailing and/or spending a night or two on the boat—would be a silly way to exit this world after surviving all those years of offshore voyaging, much of it to hazardous places.

But that left the problem of where to store the raft.

The obvious place is in the cockpit locker, where it’s out of the way, close to the pitch axis, and relatively easy to access, but, as I have written about in depth, the big problem with that solution is that it’s right next to the engine space and the diesel heater, the two most likely sources of a fire.

So that left the lazaret, where the liferaft’s weight would have a huge negative effect on pitching moment and further exacerbate the J/109’s tendency to drag her stern a bit when in cruising trim. Literally a bummer!

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Dick Stevenson

Hi John,
Good idea. Another benefit to the smoke detector near the Espar (I think that is what you have) is that the smoke detector will give an early warning as to when the unit needs servicing/cleaning. Dick

Star Tracker

A nest smoke alarm once saved me a potential vessel loss the day after I bought a boat. It turned out that the type of sensor they use will also pick up the off-gassing from an overcharging battery. Not a recommended use I’m sure but still handy. Signs were the alarm going off and a smell of sewage. Decommissioned the electrical shortly after for a complete rewire of course.

Stein Varjord

Hi John,

I like the principle of improving our awareness of what is going on in different places on the boat. Even better when like this, it gives other direct benefits. If it feels uncomfortable to trust tech, which I understand, we could mitigate that by having two detectors in the critical location. They probably won’t fail simultaneously. However, it gives us one more item to maintain. No point in having sensors if we don’t have a regime to regularly check if they’re working. I believe these will give a signal if they’re not working correctly, but even that might be missed… I have no experience with them, but since they’re using the WiFi network, is there some way of checking their status on an MFD or something? That would make it easier to feel confident.