boatexplosionAs the echo of one of Murphy’s favorite expressions, FOOM!, fades away, we open with the sound of rotor blades as critically-injured children are life-flighted to a hospital and a chance of survival…

The children were airlifted to D.C. Children’s Hospital after the 20-foot boat caught fire on Mill Creek in Lusby, Md., about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C, Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson told the Post.

The incident happened around 11:30 a.m., just minutes after the family had launched from the marina, Fox5DC reported.

A three-year hold [sic] and nine-year-old were being treated for severe burns at the hospital. Their eight-year-old sibling was also hospitalized.

via Three children burned after boat explodes in Md. | Fox News.

Say what? What happened? Something drastic needs to happen… for the children! But we need a better story. The Washington Post to the rescue, sorta:

Thomson said the cause of the explosion and fire is still under investigation, but said the boat burned and sank very quickly.

“Witnesses said they heard a boom and when they looked the engine cover was up in the air,” Thomson said. “The boat burned and sank very fast.”

The boat was launched out of a private slip in the 12500 block of Rousby Hall Road. Mill Creek, where the explosion occurred, is a tributary of the Patuxent River.

A FOOM! right after launching. Hmmm, what does that remind us of? We know! You know when they told you in boat school to run the blower to evacuate any inflammable fumes from the bilges before firing up the boat? Oh, you didn’t go to boat school?

Well, actually, you just did. Boat school, spelled FOOM. We can’t help but think the classroom way is easier.

This entry was posted in When Guns Are Outlawed… on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

22 thoughts on “When Guns Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Boats.


Experience is ever the harshest education, but we note we’ve never met a child who burned both hands on hot stoves, so maybe, after the skin grafts heal, this experience will bear fruit in the next generation of would-be powerboaters.

Of course, DoT will blame it on the evils of carbon-based fuels, and push for pedal- and solar-powered jon boats.


A squad leader once told us that experience was the best teacher, and that the best experience was someone else’s! It was less expensive and almost always less painful.


The problem is that few manage to learn from other peoples experiences… Identify those who can, and you’re a long way towards identifying your next generation of leaders. Or, at least, the ones who should be your next generation…

What’s always struck me as flatly bizarre and unbelievable about the rest of you people, my fellow human beings, is watching how often the rest of you will literally stand there and watch other people try something out and fail spectacularly at it, and then you’ll go and do the same damn thing…

Even as a kid, like around age four or five, I’d invariably be there standing witness while people ran through these exercises in suicidal behavior, and I’d be the “wet blanket” saying “Jimmy, I don’t think that’s a good idea…” while Jimmy was getting ready to jump his bike off the roof into a pile of leaves. For me, the trail from Action “A” to Consequence “B” has always been really easy to visualize, so long as I had at least a limited understanding of what was going on. When I do get personally involved in acts of massive stupidity, I usually can say “I had no idea it worked like that…”.

The rest of y’all? Lemmings. Fucking lemmings. I’m more frightened by the march to folly of my fellow human beings than I am by anything else in this life. Y’all seem steadily focused on getting me killed or maimed horribly.


Kirk, come on man. Most of us know that 1) We’re invulnerable, it won’t happen to us. 2) We’re better/faster/stronger/smarter than the dude who failed. Clearly we’ll succeed while he went down spectacularly in flames. 3) It looked fun, didn’t it?

I think there’s a complacency to risks that we regularly flout. Watch people merge onto a highway at 75 mph. Think about the kinetic energy involved in a collision with an SUV or truck at 75 mph. It’s amazing anybody survives, right? And we should all leave plenty of room in front of the tractor trailer when we merge into traffic. Yet we do it all the time. And we take the risk every day, push it a little farther. “Ah, there’s enough room to merge in there and I really can’t afford to be late to work today.” Or what have you. Same same whether you’re talking about demo, parachuting, driving a car, or operating a furnace with 3,000 lbs of molten metal in it. People get complacent the more familiar they are with the risks and the more times they tap the hot stove with their finger and don’t get burned. My two cents.

Tim, ’80s Mech Guy

Kirk, with you again, folks around me seem to take an average of 2.5 trips to the ER to get the message that if Timmy says it looks like a bad idea, it, more often than not, is gonna hurt. Some have learned to trust me and a couple defer to me without even asking why.

KW, the folks getting on to the highway at 35 are way more scary/dangerous in my opinion. Are you from Tennassee by chance? Never seen a more velocity averse bunch of non-mergers than Knoxvillians…


Complacency with everyday risks is one thing, but I’m talking about the stuff that’s clearly “not gonna work”. Say, for example, merging into that 75mph traffic with a go-kart you “borrowed” from the track, ‘cos you thought it would be super-cool to drive under the trailer of a tractor-trailer combo, and scare the hell out of the driver…

And, yes, saw the aftermath of that one. Still in awe of it, too. As I said, y’all frighten me, in the aggregate. Mistakes I understand. Complacency, too. What gets me is the sheer, unpredictable stupidity that some people come up with, like the two guys out at the drop zone at Fort Lewis who decided they were going to go parasailing with the recovered parachutes out of the back of the deuce and a half they were riding back to post on. They “happened” to have a couple of 120′ ropes, see, and some… Well, the results weren’t pretty: They’d forgotten to factor in the overhead wires.

Supposedly, that was all spur-of-the-moment, when opportunity met idiot. The presence of the ropes argues otherwise, for me-I only saw the accident reports at the safety office a few years after the event.



Agreed on the slow mergers being more dangerous, the image I had in my mind was the jackwagons that merge without looking or fit themselves into tiny spaces with big vehicles on either side. And I’m in Jersey, so I see both ends of that spectrum on a daily basis.

Hognose Post author

Last time I looked at parachuting accidents there were two spikes in the fatalities: jumpers at about the 200-jump point and jumpers at the 1k+ point. The first spike is Dunning-Kruger effect, the second complacency. You see it in every hazardous activity.

Boat Guy

One of the many fine qualities of diesel-powered boats is the lack of FOOM-factor.


One of the more frightening things to hear from someone is how “diesel and kerosene don’t vaporize and go boom…”. Trust me on this one: They do. They don’t do it quite as readily as gasoline or naptha, but they will do it, and do it readily.

Dude I knew from high school “knew” that diesel was safe to use as a shortcut to get a fire going in his woodstove. He’d done it for years, see, and his daddy before him. So, one day, he came home from work early in mid-winter, and wanted to get his stove going again, after it had gone out. He goes inside, builds the fire, pours the diesel over the wet wood, and then the phone rings. He answers it, and while talking on the phone, the diesel vaporizes nicely on the still-warm firebrick he’s poured it on. By the time he gets back to strike the match, there’s a nice cloud of dispersed hydrocarbons, and as soon as he hit it with the struck match…? FOOM.

Blew out the windows of his house, all of them, set fire to his living room, set fire to him, and pretty much left him as prime working material for the burn ward. The house itself was a total loss, although the local volunteer fire department loved him for starting a house fire in broad daylight during work hours.

Anything carbon-based will “FOOM”. It just takes the right set-up. Hell, I’ve blown up buildings with packets of cocoa powder and a detonator…


Doesn’t have to be carbon based either, if it’s fine enough. Metal powder/dust will do the trick too. Particularly something nice and reactive like iron or aluminium. Here’s iron powder igniting – was part of a safety investigation involving an explosion at a powder production plant.

James Sullivan

This just happened near where I live, up round Lake George, in NY. A guy at a marina, before setting out for the day, decided to fuel up his boat.

The catch is, he insisted to the 15 year old manning the marina pumps that the Fuel port was This hole, rather than That hole. The kid was right (it was That hole) but was faced with an older, dumber man who intimidated him. So he pumped about 20 gallons of gas into the engine compartment. And as you say, FOOM.

The kid is still in the hospital. Guy is out, I think.

Mr. AR-10

Not thtat they are the only things that go foom, but boats sure do seem to be fraight with problems. Safety this, safety that. Expensive.

I ain’t never had no interest in having my own boat. Not that there’s anything wrong with it… just not for me.

Oh and am I wrong, or isn’t ethanol and boats a bigger problem than fire and boats?

Fact is, I’d be happy not even living near large bodies of water.

Boat Guy

Yup that ethanol stuff is FAR more dangerous – see pervious WM posts.

Most of my boating has been at taxpayer expense (THANK YOU all) and they certainly are “Safety that. Expensive.” specially the latter.

And yes nearly anything vaporized/ground to dust will FOOM – if you’re a moron or have malice aforethought. I work assidously to avoid the former.

Hognose Post author

They actually teach the making of a dust initiator in the classified parts of the 18C course. That they do it is not classified, how they do it is. When we traveled and trained we had a long list of things we could not teach host nations, that (and all improvised explosives) was one of them.

Didn’t Big Haze Gray buy you guys a boat about 10-20 years ago that was so rigid it broke the cox’ns’ backs?


I remember the dust initiator demo from Phase 2 (yeah, I’m THAT olde) – impressive!

Sitting here on my diesel-powered boat, however, I will note that diesel IS a lot safer than gasoline (though for sure nothing is perfectly safe if it contains energy) Diesel smells so bad (and makes the Admiral seasick, too) that ANY leaks or spills get cleaned up & fixed ASAP. If I get diesel on a rag when refueling, the rag is history – into the trash at the dock.

And yes, the bilge vent blower is on the whole time we’re refueling or the engine is turning..:)

Martin S

And the next generation ain’t getting smarter. Heard about a local lad who fed the lawnmower 3 fingers earlier this week.

Or maybe that’s a special case, it takes real dedication to stick your hand into the working parys of machinery. Or maybe its lack of imagination in these days, where CGI and video game graphics leave imagination in its dust.

Kids today, mind you I’m only 22 days short of 29.

Hognose Post author

I just had a vision of a kid looking at his spurting finger stumps and saying, “Respawn… respawn, damnit!”

Cap’n Mike

Putting the fuel nozzle into a rod holder and mistakenly filling up the bilge with high test is a common source of these fires.

Hognose Post author

I would suppose in your jurisdiction, as up here, a ridiculously high percentage of boat accidents involve operators somewhat the worse for Judgment Juice.


If you bought your SF IED manual copies far enough back from the right sources, dust initiated explosive devices were covered very explicitly.


Knowledge is power.

Hognose Post author

And if you bought them from the wrong sources some of the chemistry’s a bit off. FOOM!