More on CO

David Fletcher requests help from members for some new research.

Last time, I talked about the new BSS requirements for carbon monoxide alarms and the issues with ventilation. I explained that there is a good deal that we do not understand about ventilation and air changes in boat cabins.

A major new study is planned for boaters in London, looking at CO levels, particularly the low levels that come from sources such as gas cooking or wind-carried exhausts from adjacent boats. CO measuring and logging devices will be placed in many boats, so that both high and low levels of CO can be detected. The study is to find out the extent of these low levels, typically 1-10ppm, whereas alarms go off at 50ppm. The data-loggers are simple, battery operated devices that plug into a usb port on a laptop, and can be interrogated with special software. The recording device will produce a graph of the readings over time, showing the extent and frequency of spikes, but of course it doesn’t show or record where the spike comes from. This second part is much more problematic; to relate peaks or high levels to actual events or causes.

We are interested to get our hands on some of these recorders and run a small study ourselves with a few volunteer members to fast track this detail, to relate the spikes to known events. This would not be fully scientific, but could give us some insight into where any significant CO is coming from for further study.

So, we are looking for volunteers who are liveaboards this winter in a congested boating area, like a residential marina, boat club or city moorings, and who are very computer literate. The study will involve hosting a recorder for a short period, say two weeks, to take readings. Every couple of days, the data needs to be looked at to see what spikes there are, and then providing a diary of events. What events caused spikes? Clearly, if there are unexplained peaks, the volunteer would check more frequently to understand what is going on. Can you do this for us? If so please email me at In the meantime, the BSS is looking at the issues around requirements for the introduction of smoke alarms. The Fire Brigade are very much in favour, but that is not the only consideration. What is your view – nanny state or a sensible move? Cabin, sleeping area or engine room? Let us know please.