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Engine room fire sinks Bayliner 4788 on Tennessee River

by Peter Janssen / Cruising Odyssey on 16 May
Engine room fire sinks Bayliner 4788 on Tennessee River Cruising Odyssey
“It was pretty horrific,” David Carter told me. “You think you’re ready, but when the time comes…” Carter, 60, who’s retired and a licensed captain, was talking just a few days after his 2001 Bayliner 4788 Carter’s Cove 2 caught fire and sank in the Tennessee River near Scottsboro, Tennessee. Carter, his wife and a friend who were on board all jumped overboard and were picked up safely.

It was a Saturday afternoon and Carter was about two miles from the Goose Pond Colony Resort and Marina, going slowly, waiting out a storm. He had bought the boat last September. “It was a fresh-water boat from Michigan, and it only had 300 hours. I just upgraded the electronics and put on some new canvas. It was in great shape.” Carter, who just remarried last fall, was looking forward to spending time cruising with his wife.



But then on Saturday afternoon he saw smoke coming from the engine room. He shut off the engines, but “suddenly flames were shooting out. I didn’t have a suppression system. We tried to spray dry chemical under the floor board to no avail.” Carter quickly placed a Mayday call. He knew the nearest mile marker on the river and landmarks to give to the responders. “After I got confirmation on that info I didn’t wait to answer any more questions. I felt an urgent need to get to my crew and get the dinghy off. But the dinghy was stuck on top of the boat. It was pretty useless.”

He did go back inside the boat to retrieve his handheld VHF. “Then we stood on the top deciding to jump or not. One of my crew wanted to jump and I agreed we could go.” Everyone was wearing life jackets. “I called from my handheld and let the responders know we were going in and made sure they were on the way and had a good location.” They were picked up quickly.

Looking back, Carter’s not sure, but he thinks the fire may have been caused by a faulty turbo. He’s waiting for a full investigation.

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