How To Fuel Your Boat [At The Pump, At The Marina]
You’re eager to get out on the water but may have questions about fueling your boat. Whether you’re a boating newbie or an experienced captain, the expert team at Rocket Marine is here to walk you through how to fuel your boat. So let’s keep you and your boat safe while saving some money at the pump!
Proper Boat Fueling Process
Following a proper fueling process is essential to prevent any fires on board. The vapors from gas are heavier than the vapors in the air and can spread quickly in enclosed spaces. Always check the bilges and any other closed compartments for gasoline vapors. The good, ‘ol fashioned sniff test is an effective method for detecting fuel leaks, so follow your nose!
Fueling on the water
Follow the following steps when fueling your boat out on the water:
1. Designate one person to fuel the boat.
2. Tie your boat securely to the dock.
3. If you regularly boat in saltwater, take a few extra minutes to visually check that there are no cracks or damage to your fuel lines. Saltwater is very corrosive!
4. Turn off your engine.
5. Extinguish any open flames.
6. Do not use your boat’s electrical switches.
7. Cigarettes and cigars out, everyone!
8. Close all ports, doors, and hatches. This will help keep the gas fumes out!
9. Everyone go ashore!
10. Double-check that your fuel is of the proper quality and type.
11. Hold the hose nozzle securely against the fill pipe opening, keeping it in constant contact with the fill opening to avoid sparks. Ensure the opening is actually for the fuel tank.
12. Wrap a towel or other absorbent fabric around the nozzle to prevent backsplash.
13. Refrain from overfilling. You want to leave room in the boat’s tank for the gas to expand.
14. Carefully and thoroughly wipe up any and all spills.
15. Open the hatches, ports, and doors to ventilate properly.
16. Turn the blower on for four minutes.
For those of you unfamiliar with gas-powered boats, in each gas-powered boat, there is typically a blower for each engine. The blower’s biggest job is removing gasoline vapors in the engine room. These vapors are highly explosive and, if ignited by a spark, can destroy the boat and anyone on or beside the boat.
17. Do your handy dandy sniff test.
18. Start your boat’s engine.
19. Time to call everyone back on board
20. Untie your boat from the dock, and keep enjoying your day out on the water!
Why Properly Fueling Your Boat Is Important
Properly fueling your boat when out on the water not only keeps you, your passengers, and your boat safe, but it keeps the water safe and clean for marine life. It is a legal requirement to report any and all fuel spills and take quick action to clean them up.
The government enacted a federal law (the Oil Pollution Act of 1990) making it illegal to place (even accidentally) any petroleum product into the water. By law, you must report all fuel or oil spills that leave a sheen on the water to the U.S. Coast Guard at 1-800-424-8802. Any environmental damage caused by one of your fuel spills is your responsibility.
What If You Spill Fuel When Fueling On The Water?
If you spill fuel when fueling on the water, never use detergent or other chemicals to disperse the oil or sheen. These products can cause the petroleum to penetrate and sink into the water, resulting in environmental damage.
If you do spill, immediately stop the source of the leak. Always carry oil-absorbent pads or booms in your boat and have them ready to use on a spill. Next, notify your marina and then call the U.S. Coast Guard. Finally, if the spill is extensive, you may want to call your insurance company.
Fueling Portable Tanks
- Always remove tanks that are six gallons or smaller from your boat.
- Always refill your portable fuel containers on the dock or pavement. The truck bed or deck of your boat may seem stable but can build up static electricity causing a dangerous spark.
- Always put an absorbent pad under the container if you’re fueling on the dock.
- If you have a 2-cycle outboard, remember to add the correct amount of oil to your portable tank.
- Ensure the hose nozzle always stays in contact with the rim of the tank.
- If you can, use a funnel to further prevent contaminants from entering the fuel tank.
- After filling, secure the portable tank to the boat so it won’t slide around while moving.
- Always store portable fuel tanks out of direct sunlight and keep them in a dry, cool environment when not in use to minimize condensation.
Fueling At The Pump
- Designate one person to get out and fuel the boat.
- Be cautious if your local gas station sells gas with ethanol. You must take special precautions when using ethanol-blended gasoline.
- Level your boat. Leveling your boat helps the fuel go in easily and reduces the likelihood of spilling. Adjust your rollers/bunks or lower your trailer hitch.
- Position yourself so you can easily see the deck fill while holding the gas nozzle comfortably.
This often means getting into the boat or using a step stool. If you need to strain to see the deck fill and hold the nozzle, you are more likely to spill.
Boat Fuel Conservation Tips
- Keep your engine in tip-top shape
- Use the right size propeller and model for your boat and continually check for damage. A damaged propeller will reduce your engine’s efficiency.
- Ensure your engine is the right size for your boat.
- Plane smoothly and evenly at take-off and then throttle back to cruising speed once out on the water.
- Use the proper ratio of oil in your motor.
- Turn off the engine when you stop or dock.
- Keep your hull clean to reduce drag.
- Drain the water before leaving the dock.
- Consistently distribute the weight on the boat evenly and never overload it.
Final Fuel Filling Tips
- Always stop just shy of filling the fuel tanks all the way up, and never try to top them off. With many boats, you can hear the fuel gurgling up shortly before the tank is full, and if this is true on your boat, the moment you hear it gurgle, it’s a good idea to go ahead and shut off the pump. Filling the tank 90% is the best option, as fuel will expand.
- Never leave the pump unattended. Luckily, fuel pumps at marinas don’t lock in the “on” position like they do at gas stations. You must manually hold the pump in place the entire time you fuel your boat. That way, you can immediately respond if any fuel spills.
- Never put fuel in the water tank. It sounds obvious, but on older boats, sometimes the tanks are not clearly marked.
- Always be very careful to add the appropriate fuel and oil to your boat.
At Rocket Marine, we love sharing safe boating tips with our clients to ensure you have a great time out on the water. We also understand the importance of safely getting to and from the water. That’s why we make top-quality boat trailers, so you have peace of mind when transporting your boat and family to the water. Call us today!