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Old 04-15-2009, 09:38 AM   #1
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Interested in your views re additional fuel storage - not something we have thought too much about in the past but will certainly need to organise something for our Blue water.

I see a number of yachts around us carrying 20lt containers of diesel on their rails - secured to a plank of wood bolted or tied to the stanchions.

Having just humped a number of extra fuel containers about our decks today I'm a little concerned about all that additional weight up top - especially out on either rail. We have a 3.4m beam and are also carrying sea kayaks down either deck which does not leave a lot of room.

We can get 3 x 20lt containers in our lazerette and another 3 down under our V berth and probably 2 on the stern wedged between the pushpit and the cockpit housing - these would be then secured to planks bolted to the rails. My preference is to keep our weight down low rather than midshiips on the rail.

We have a 125lt main fuel tank and appear to get 1.9lt per hr running at 5kts from our 39hp Iveco diesel.

Fair winds
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Old 04-15-2009, 10:50 AM   #2
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I don't like to have them on deck secured to the rails. Reason for this is that heavy seas hitting them could cause significant damage to the stanchions.

Best to keep in a cockpit locker or lazerette where they are accessible.

Also, don't leave the fuel in them for ever - use and refill from time to time.
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Old 04-15-2009, 05:20 PM   #3
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For info regarding diesel fuel contamination and shelf life, visit the Cruising Dictionary wiki for Diesel, contamination and shelf life. DIESEL in Cr. Dict.

Peter and I made a rule of never carrying anything on deck, even for coastal cruising. Once, when in the Caribbean, we tried carrying several jerry jugs on deck to see if we would consider this practice. SV Watermelon was a moderate to light displacement sloop that normally only took water over the bow in extremely rough conditions, and that water never found its way into the cockpit. We cancelled the trial after the night that we were beating our way to St. Martin through the Anegada Passage and took a blast of green water over the bow. I was horrified by the force of the wave as it made its way past the jerry jugs, which blocked the water from dissipating over the side - had Peter been going alongside them at that time he would have been washed overboard, I'm sure. If you have a heavy displacement cruising boat, the amount of water you take in rough weather will be significant, and obstructions on deck will compromise the seaworthiness and safety of the vessel. Bad things happen at the most inopportune moments.

Besides, you're on a sailboat. How much diesel do you need? Our fuel tank was about 165 liters, and we carried two 20L jerry jugs in the lazarette. Only once did we come close to running out of fuel. It might take some discipline, but you should work hard at limiting your hours of motoring, and learning how to sail onto and off your mooring or anchor. Lessons you should learn before you have an unexpected engine failure.

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Old 04-16-2009, 03:37 AM   #4
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I agree with the two previous posts.

The forces involved when a sea hits objects on deck has to be seen to be believed. In fact, it might be better never to witness it at all!

I too have seen all manner of paraphernalia secured on deck. I have also seen what can happen when this breaks loose and starts being hurtled at one of the crew. A sea hitting someone in the cockpit (well secured with lifelines) is bad enough but having a 20KG jerry can coming at you too is not something you will want to experience.

My advice is to clear the decks of everything possible, giving any sea boarding your vessel the least possible resistance and allowing the water to run off without any hinder.

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Old 04-16-2009, 09:42 PM   #5
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These arguments against carrying fuel on jerrycans lashed along the stanchions are very convincing. I do plead guilty of doing so on my small sailboat. She has capacity for only 100 liters. So, I have two 22 lt cans in the sail lockers and two more lashed on deck. Not much room at lower spaces.

Maybe I should re-think and try to find another space. Not sure where.

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Old 06-30-2014, 03:52 PM   #6
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Several of the other comments above make sense.

I can imagine that fuel jugs on deck seems benign to most as it is commonly seen on cruising yachts. And in most mild weather I can imagine there is an attitude of "safe and secure."

I have another anecdote with a lesson I learned and will not forget:

I was on a sailboat headed from Hawaii to California. The skipper had about ten 5 gallon plastic fuel jugs lashed to the stanchions forward on the deck. So, up front before the cockpit. These were filled with diesel. Everything seemed secure. Multiple lashings were tight. Caps screwed down tight. Brand new jugs made for this purpose (holding fuel). Standard sizes, all same size. Multiple lines of strong cordage. Seemed OK.

We left the islands and headed north. We were hit by a severe storm with high seas and high winds. The jugs (and boat) took a beating.

During that first night, the jugs began to come loose in their bindings (the cords holding them together on deck). Just a little bit at first and not noticed in the dark.

As the wind was howling and the waves were hit, there was a constant spray coming back to the cockpit. Very wet, very strong wind.

But, the worse thing was the fuel that was mingled with the spray!

It turned out that the vent caps on several of the fuel jugs had popped off (probably after the jugs got hit by a wave). Those little tiny holes that are for venting vapors (or allowing one to pour liquid from the big hole in the jug) allowed a stream of fuel spray to come out in the wind. This flew back into the face of the helmsman (me) and made it very difficult to see (stinging eyes).

So? Uncomfortable? So what?

Well, the fuel also was sprayed on the deck. One of the most slippery things in the world is a wet deck with fuel on it!

The extremely slippery decks were a hazard for days until we could scrub them (after the storm subsided). This meant the decks would be VERY hazardous IF we had to go forward to lower sails etc. I know, because when my watch ended I went forward in the night to try to find a way to secure the loose jugs (this is when I found the vent caps off). Also, securing those little vent caps was impossible at the time as the jugs were coated in fuel too. Plastic coated in fuel makes them very slippery too. Impossible to secure with duct tape or similar, as it would just slide off. Remember, fuel is a form of oil. Oil and water together can be VERY slippery, even on decks with non-skid.

My lesson? Putting fuel jugs on deck requires VERY strong method of securing against movement and VERY secure method of keeping the caps on if the jugs move or are pressed (by a wave or motion).

Live and learn.
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