SPICEWOOD, Texas (KXAN) — From the very first time he went wakeboarding, Larry Mann knew he had a new passion. At his shop near Spicewood, you can see many wakeboards he has created himself.
“I just absolutely fell in love with it,” he said.
That is why when he heard about proposed laws and regulations in California several years ago concerning the sport, he was skeptical. The proposals were to make wakeboarding safer and one of the concerns mentioned was carbon monoxide emissions from boats.
Not willing to part with his passion, Mann set out with a monoxide censor to see just how dangerous it could be.
“My intention and my expectation was to find that it was a bunch of hooey and really not a problem.”
But he was wrong.
“Within 30 seconds of testing, I realized it was very serious.”
Mann said the exhaust of some older boats can emit 10,000 parts per million of carbon monoxide, a tasteless and odorless gas which can turn silent killer for anyone who obliviously inhales.
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office said this week carbon monoxide toxicity was a “significant condition” in the drowning death 15-year-old Sarah Pool. A tragedy Mann himself experienced with a friend years earlier. Pool was not wearing a life jacket, but two friends with her near the boat’s swimming platform were wearing them according to Travis County Sheriff’s Office
“She was on the back of the boat on the swim platform,” he said remembering the death of his friend which occurred under very similar circumstances as Pool’s. “When they looked back, she was gone. She did not have a life preserver. Unfortunately it was the same scenario.”
Mann’s personal experiences with carbon monoxide on boats led him to develop another creation for his passion. This one is not any kind of wakeboard, but a welded metal device that fits onto the exhaust pipes where boats emit CO. The “Fresh Air Exhaust” releases the exhaust gases down into the water where the propeller pushes it several feet behind the boat.
For older boats or boats without a catalytic converter, he thinks the patented product can be a lifesaver.
“We want to see this stop. Boating should be fun and people should be able to have a good time and not have to worry about dying.”
The swimming platform and the back of the boat can be the most dangerous place to inhale fumes from the exhaust’s “backdraft” according to Mann and the Center for Disease Patrol and Prevention. Mann advised the engine should be off if people are on the swimming platform.
The CDC has a webpage devoted to carbon monoxide poisoning.