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Tips for Safe Refuelling a Boat

Posted by Gary Pickering on January 24, 2012 at 11:10 AM

All Ashore

Insist that your crew stretch their legs while you fuel up. Aboard the boat I saw explode, the skipper was thrown overboard by the blast, but was rescued and lived. Your crew may not be as lucky.

Batten Down

Close all hatches, doors and ports. Gas fumes are heavier than air and will sink into the lower parts of the boat, lying in wait for a spark, or just a rush of fresh air, to induce combustion.

Know Thy Boat

Look at the fuel gauge prior to filling. This coupled with knowledge of the tank’s capacity allows you to stop the flow when full or nearly so by monitoring the rate on the pump. Can’t see the pump? Ask a dock hand to stop the pump at a set number of gallons, or assign a crew member to call out to you. Clicking on the ignition to check the gauge during fueling is a no-no.

No Static

It’s imperative to make and maintain full and firm metal-to-metal contact between the pump nozzle and your boat’s fuel deck pipe. This grounds the nozzle and prevents a spark created by static electricity. FYI: Newer fiberglass docks create an inordinate amount of static. Forewarned is forearmed.

Sniff Test

Fueling complete, open the hatches and sniff for gas fumes in the bilge and engine compartment. If all smells well, run the blower for five minutes before starting the engines. This doesn’t apply to outboard-powered boats for obvious reasons.

Safety aboard is integral to good seamanship. Practice safety when you fuel up.

Categories: Equipment, News

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