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Man and Dog Escape Injury in Sailboat Explosion

We all hope “it” will never happen, but occasionally it does — in this case “it” was an explosion aboard a sailboat. The explosion occurred at San Diego’s Safe Harbor Marina last week.

Sailboat Explosion
Did the person who stepped off this boat buy a lottery ticket afterwards?
© 2022 John Miller

San Diego’s Harbor Police Department representative, Corporal Spearel, told us the explosion may have been caused by a propane buildup inside the boat’s cabin. The owner, who does not live on the boat, had come aboard with his dog and lit the stove. Miraculously, both the owner and the dog were only singed — neither was hospitalized. Corp. Spearel said the hull appeared to be intact and the boat was towed to a yard later on the same day.

Images on social media show significant damage, with the deck separated from the hull and the mast and rigging dislodged.

sailboat explosion damage
Where would you even begin to make repairs?
© 2022 John Miller

We also found this video of the damaged boat, posted on Facebook by Nathan Grindle.

In February last year a boat exploded on Richardson Bay, Sausalito, allegedly due to a propane leak.


  1. Ken, Gladit wasn’t me ,brinkley 7 months ago

    Safe Harbour? No sniffer ? No alarm ? Glad the man and his dog survived, hope his insurance is up to it!

  2. David Hume 7 months ago

    It has to be worth it to convert to Natural gas, it’s lighter than air and does not gather in the bilge.

  3. Eric A Gritzmacher 7 months ago

    Several years ago a good friend was on his 55ft custom sailboat at Catalina when his boat exploded from a propane leak. He had 3rd degree burns on 30% of his body. Propane is nothing to be casual about. You need to follow the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Council) standards for storing and using propane. The tank must be vented to the outside at the bottom of the locker, must have a regulator and a solenoid switch wired to the inside of the boat. The switch must be located near the stove so if there is a flare up, you can shut off the supply. As a Vessel Examiner for the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, I tell people to test their system periodically and make sure you shut it off when not in use. And use your nose; just like the gas in your home, it has an odor so use the smell test or get a “sniffer” which can detect the presence of propane.

  4. Doug 7 months ago

    There are four marinas in San Diego that are part of the Safe Harbor chain. From the pics this looks like Safe Harbor Cabrillo Isle on Harbor Island

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