Carbon Monoxide Poisoning kills 2 friends on the motor cruiser Diversion

Published: 26 November 20

The two men returned at 9.18m to their privately owned motor cruiser Diversion, which was moored on the river Ouse in York. The diesel fuelled heater had been leaking exhaust fumes into the boat’s cabin while they were ashore, and both men were overcome by a high level of carbon monoxide gas and died shortly after they entered the boat’s cabin.

The accident is still under investigation, the findings are due to be published by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).

The incidents that may have led to this tragedy are proposed to be due to the absence of professional servicing and checking of the Diesel Heater that had been fitted by the vessel’s owner. Additionally, there was no Carbon Monoxide alarm fitted to help detect the leak.

The motor cruiser, which was built by the owner over a period of 11 years finishing in 2001 – the owner would later make various modifications to the vessel over the years, including the installation of a second-hand Diesel Fuelled Cabin Heater in 2018. As it was a cold evening the two casualties had left the heater running whilst they were with friends.

Our very own YDSA member Ben Sutcliff has worked closley with Yachting Monthly in producing content detailing the harms of diesel fuelled heaters. See below for Ben's Piece with Yachting Monthly on this.


Diesel Fuelled Cabin Heaters, similar to the one installed in Diversion are regularly found in an array vehicles and vessels including trucks, boats, caravans, and motor homes as they are readily found to purchase new and second-hand. However, they are not always installed by a professional installation engineer which can be very dangerous.

If you have a diesel-fuelled heater in your boat, please make sure that it is checked professionally and that you have a working CO detector.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer. Its symptoms can be similar to colds, flu, hangovers or even Covid-19; headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tiredness, confusion, stomach pain and shortness of breath. If carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, stop the source, get to the open air and seek medical attention.


If you’d like to learn more on how you or even how your clients can avoid this, please check out the following documents

MAIB Safety Bulletin

Boat Safety Scheme – New Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements

Read Ben's piece on this here To get Yachting Monthly delivered to your door, visit:




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