YIKES, you think. Just what the *&%# happened? I asked myself the very same question, and prayed no one was seriously hurt...or even worse when I saw this photo. And just so you know, the photo on the left is the 'before' photo.
We completed this restoration last spring, just in time for the 1960 Capri to be used in the owner's wedding reception. The boat was truly beautiful, and all of us here were very proud of her as she was towed back to her home in AL. There was a trailer mishap along the way an hour from home, requiring a minor repair to the hull below the waterline, which the owner did himself to make the reception. All went well. The boat was used in the reception and then during the summer with much enjoyment for all. Then the trouble began.
Near the end of the season the owner had one of his mechanic employees change the fuel filter, a very normal and prudent thing to do after hours of use. The filter, it was determined, had not properly been tightened and fuel was, unbeknownst, dripping into the bilge. One afternoon he drove the boat over to the marina to fill her up with gas. The tank was full, and he began to start the engine without lifting the hatch to check for fumes. You guessed it. KABOOM! A terrible explosion, which threw the owner nearly thirty feet out of the boat (luckily) and into the water. It may have saved his life. Unfortunately he suffered severe burns over much of his body and spent three weeks in the hospital. He's now looking at a long recovery.
My point is this; never take anything for granted. Ever. Fuel uncontained is a very dangerous thing, and can kill in the right situation. Always lift your hatch before starting your engine...even in new boats. Most know to raise the lid, stick your head down there and take a big whiff. If it smells like gas, then you indeed have gas in the bilge and you don't start the engine until you fix the problem. Period. As bad as this situation is, it could have been worse. The owner could have been killed, or what if he had young passengers aboard for an exciting boat ride? I think you get the picture. Again, better safe than sorry.