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How to store additional fuel and water into your boat

storefuelwaterMany modern boats offer ample amount of fuel and water for a day of cruise or fishing.

But if you are planning on visiting remote areas or running a multi-day tour, you might need more than the usual.

Short regular trips is one thing, but an extended voyage is another matter altogether.

Experts on the matter will also debate about the additional weight this extra fuel and water would create.

Fuel consumption is directly proportional to weight, but this is another topic for another time.  For now, let us just concentrate on how you would be able to carry more fuel and water for your planned extended trip.

Carrying More Fuel

There are a number of ways to carry extra fuel on your boat.

·         Tankage

For more permanent solution, you can have a new tankage.  The size will depend on the space that you want to sacrifice.  This is the ultimate price you have to pay to get those extra gallons on your boat.

Additionally, the positioning plays a major part on this option.  You boat should still be balanced, placing the bigger tank at the centerline to have an even distribution.

·         DIY Tanks

A DIY custom made style is also an option.  First, find a spot that you can utilize for the extra fuel.  A hard-to-reach area is a good way to start.

Create a model of the tank from materials that you can glue together.  Once it is assembled, you can then bring it to a tank builder that will create the actual tank. You can also choose the material to use, be it fiber glass, stainless steel or plastic.

Do take note that the model you have created earlier should fit through the hatch while assembled.

If you do plan to build your own fuel tank, you have to consider the following:

o   Baffles are needed to reduce the “free surface” effect for fuel tanks that are more than half a meter long.

o   Filler access should be higher than the deck to avoid water getting into your tank.

o   The tank-vent should be high above the deck level.

o   A vent hose should at least be 13mm or above.

o   You should be able to drain off your tank easily when water or other contaminants gets in.

o   Pickup should be installed an inch off from the bottom of your tank

·         Deck Storage Fuel Tanks

Fuel tanks stored on the deck is the most common method that can be employed for large boats.  It is a very easy solution and a barrel or two will add a large volume of fuel.

However, the center of buoyancy should be considered when using this solution.   Since a large amount of weight is added, it also reduces the stability of the vessel.

·         Portable Fuel Tanks

There are many manufacturers of fuel tanks or containers that offer several designs and capacities to choose from.  The most advisable capacity are the six-gallon tanks, which can be easily lifted to move around.

Mostly, these are made out of plastic, but they are specifically designed to handle fuel.

Do not use just any plastic container. There are also some that are made out of metal, like the Jerry can, that uses pressed steel.

A plastic counterpart of the metal Jerry can is likewise available if you prefer the classic-military look.  However, a low-profile fuel tank or container is advisable to make it more stable in rough seas, and those made out of plastic won’t damage the paint job of your boat.

Scepter is one of the manufacturers that offer a marine line of fuel containers that are low profile, topside or below deck.

They also have innovative features like cross-links, diesel return line, aluminum fuel withdrawal and fuel vent.

Remember that a red fuel tank is for gasoline while yellow is for diesel or petrol.  Also do not use any other plastic container except those designed to handle fuel.

·         Flexible Bladder Fuel Tank

Flexible bladders are collapsible fuel tanks.  Once empty, you can compress them or roll them up, thus saving much needed space.  The next time you need to refill, you just to have unroll them.

Boat owners who are not that familiar may not at all consider this option because of the wear and tear factor.

However, many other boat owners have reported that it will take years before it needs to be replaced.  Chafing, which many find as an issue, can be remedied by very basic precautions.

Flexible bladders are made from very durable materials.  Some boat owners even use it inside a leaking tank, actually making them as the main tank.

Just remember to place or tie them down on areas with sufficient structural integrity.  Also, a liter of unleaded gasoline is around 6 pounds, while diesel is around 7 pounds.  That is a lot of weight to support.

·         Transferring Fuel

Transferring fuel is rather messy aside from being smelly.  However, with a good plan and the right tools, it can go smoothly.

Often times, a funnel is all you need to have a worry-free transfer.   No matter how small your container is, always opt for the largest funnel there is.

And if a funnel with a filtering system is available, go get that one.  It will help in preventing dirt, algae and non-water contaminants from mixing in with the fuel inside your tanks.

Oil absorbent mats are also useful in an event of spill.  Additionally, experimenting or researching different containers will give you an idea on which one will pour better.  Burps or hiccups during fuel transfer is preventable.

Also, purchase a couple of siphon starters.  This is not an expensive device but you will be happy to have one when you need to siphon fuel from one container to another.

You do not need to suck the fuel through the hose with your mouth.  Simply attach a siphon start to one end of a 13mm hose and drop it on the tank that has fuel in it.  Do a push-pull or pump action with the hose and viola, fuel will start running down your hose.   Mind you, you wouldn’t like the taste of fuel.

With the regards to the smell, the only option is to wear the right protection against fumes.

Additional pointers are as follows:

o   Tie-down and secure your fuel containers, specially in the open areas of your boat.  You can use the aft cockpit or swim platform.  Too much movement will result in a ruptured container, which might then cause a bigger problem.

o   Empty fuel containers will be light enough to stow elsewhere, but it still needs to be in an open space.  Residual fumes will still be present even when they are empty, which is why it’s not advisable to store them in an enclosed space.

o   On sloppy conditions, it is better to transfer the contents of your extra fuel tanks to the main tank at the soonest possible time.  This will clear the deck of gas or diesel fuel.

o   If possible, turn the boat down sea when transferring fuel as this will lessen the fumes that can accumulate in the aft cockpit

o   Nobody should be smoking when transferring fuel.

Carrying More Water

Water is essential to every human being, thus it is important to carry extra water, especially on your boat.  For short trips, there are a lot of water containers available out there.  Even as simple as jerry cans will suffice.  However, for large boats or extended trips, there are several options on how to carry more water.

·         Water maker

Installing a water maker, a device that will convert salt water into potable water,  is essential for a large boat or any other size of boat that will undergo a long journey.

There are different capacities of water makers available, which directly affects its size.  The more salt water it needs to desalinized per hour, the bigger it gets.  There are also several ways to power this machine up, 12 V or 24 V DC, 120 V AC, or via a belt from the engine.

Some of the brands that offer water makers are Watermakers Inc., Spectra Water Makers,  and West Marine.  There are several more out there.

However, you still need to carry water tanks just in case your water maker malfunctions.

·         Water Tanks

Water tanks are fairly easier to build compared to a fuel tank.  It is also not that bothersome if a leak starts up or the tank gets rupture.

Water will just spill into the bilge and there is no danger of fire.   However, the materials used on your water tank as well as any chemicals that might get into your tank will greatly affect the quality of your water.

If you are planning on building your own water tank, then you can do an extensive research about the topic since there are many reading materials tackling the topic.

An extensive guide was also created by the Gougeon Brothers, who sells West System products such as different types of epoxy, which can also be used on your water tank project.

To sum it up, there are many ways in increasing your boat’s fuel and water capacity.  A carefully planned water or fuel tank addition is all you need to have an enjoyable boat trip.