Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal - SailNet Community

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Old 03-14-2012
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Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Hi all,

I need to replace my under-cockpit polyethylene diesel fuel tank. I've got an Ericson 35-2 with a center-cabin 20 HP Universal M3 20B engine. I'm in Shelter Island, San Diego Bay. Old tank is already out and sawed up, so need to make a decision.

I'm a new owner, so mostly daydreaming about what I might do with this boat. Two conflicting dreams are considering possibility of learning to race, but also possibility of venturing either up or down the coast a few hundred miles. I expect to be motoring rarely, but would like ability to at least motor to Catalina, or back up from Ensenada, with plenty of fuel left over for safety.

I removed an 11.5 gallon tank. I have a nice platform under the cockpit, space approx 22" x22" x 22", lokks like could take up to a 20 gal tank easily, maybe 25.

Want to keep the tank topped up always because of water condensation, and am mindful that I may only use a few gallons a year if the cruising stuff remains a daydream.

So far, I'm thinking I might just buy a similar 12 gallon tank, and carry along some extra fuel cans if I do plan a trip with a lot of motoring.

Any ideas welcome!

(Also posted on EricsonYachts.org and CruisersForum)

Thanks,
Leander
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Old 03-14-2012
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

A god swag for fuel consumption would be a gal and hr. So a 12 gal tank gives you about 10 hrs before you hit a point of "I NEED FUEL!" as most diesel tanks be them in boats, cars etc do not have full capacity use of the fuel.

With that, how many hours to motor to and from catalina? if say 3 ea way, no big. If 5-10 one way, now you have potential issues if there is no fuel dock on catalina.

At the end of the day, figure aprox fuel consumption per hr times 10-20% fudge times hrs of max motor you want equals Tank gals you would need.

or as I am now reading, carry fuel cans. I have a 7 gal tank, for longer trips, I usually need one to 2 5 gal cans. Not my first choice. if I have to or get a chance to replace my 7 gal tank, I will go to a 12-15 if I have the room.

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Old 03-15-2012
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Just like in flying you want to have a reserve amount of fuel that you do not anticipate needing but things happen and you want to have ready to use and not be busy trying to pour fuel from fuel cans when maybe you need to be doing something else real important. After doing your calculations, I would have a 30% reserve.
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Old 03-15-2012
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Reply to blt2ski:

Thanks for your ideas. Catalina sounds like it it about 12-13 hours away, continuous motoring, good weather. There are at least two fuel docks there.

I was influenced by your comment re: not wanting to carry extra tanks. If you have time to comment on why you dislike that choice, I would be interested. It seemed appealing to me, because 99% of my boating life will be sailing in or near San Diego Bay wanting to go faster. and I dread the idea of carrying a lot of fuel all the time that may not get used for a year or two.

Thanks,
Leander
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Reply to MDI:

That's an important thought. It makes me realize that my goal should be to have enough fuel so that I don't have to EVER think "will I make it?, will I make it?". I play that game often enough with my car gas tank, and it's stressful. Not the feeling I'm looking for when sailing.

Leander
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leander View Post
Reply to MDI:

That's an important thought. It makes me realize that my goal should be to have enough fuel so that I don't have to EVER think "will I make it?, will I make it?". I play that game often enough with my car gas tank, and it's stressful. Not the feeling I'm looking for when sailing.

Leander

Who has not done this with their car, I know exactly what you mean. To be clear on something, I carry extra fuel in Jerry Cans on trips away from my home grounds and I start putting it in when I reach my reserve level in my tanks, not when the tanks are nearly empty.
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

The issue with jugs, is the weather "COULD BE" too rough to fill, hence wanting a bigger tank, or a bigger tank would be nice. BUT, I do race my boat, local rules require a minimum of 6 hrs of fuel at hull speed or 80% or some such thing. As such, I do have enough fuel. I have on many occasions ran for 10-12 hrs, have to fill in the middle with a can, not fun per say, but doable. Hauling them for the couple of times a year is not a really big deal overall here in the salish sea. Then again, the longest stretch I need to go before finding a fuel dock is probably 3-5 hrs, well with in a tank range with what I have. I also do not like the idea of storing the cans on deck with bungies etc, so if you have a cockpit locker as I do, they do work.

Then again, going from 7-15 gals or so in my case, is not a large amount of weight. Your case, it could be for the amounts you appear to need etc.

Also the % reserve which both mdi and I referred too, that is a number you need to decide the % you think you need. 10-20 for where I currently sail is plenty, I could see in some parts of the world wanting 50 to even 100%. reality is, somewhere between 10 and 30% should be ample for a high majority of us. How it is stored could be the the issue, ie all in an actual tank, or tank and portable. Both as stated have plus's and minus's. The formula should work no matter the reserve % you want.

I was reading in the march or february issue of Sail a dream boat by a delivery skipper, his choice was a minimum of 200 miles of diesel, for his dream boat, that would be about 200 gals. THen again, the boat was in the 50' range, some of the fuel could be also for heating of the cabins, cooking too. That also needs to be included in your tankage needs too, if you have a diesel stove or heat, assuming the boat is a diesel not gas.

make sure you take in ALL uses of the fuel you will have on board for a tank(s) and the total amount.

Marty
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Thanks, MDI.

Very interested to hear about your jerry can solution. The very experienced sailor next to me at the marina also has a sailboat,about 35 feet. He has a custom-made rack made on each side of the deck amidships. Each rack has 2 5 gallon jerry cans lashed down on it, for 20 gallons extra fuel that looks like it will hold in place pretty well. An Ericson 35 has a well approx 2 feet long between the traveller bulkhead and the transom, and I had thought that would be a great place to lash down one to four 5 gallon tanks on a longer trip.


I got to thinking about a separate issue: what did the designer intend? Will I foul up the sailing characteristics by putting a lot of weight in the wrong place? So far I have learned that the original specs were for a 22.5 gallon fuel tank (intended location unknown) and a 25 gallon water tank. The tank that came with the boat as I purchased it is 11.5 gallons, and mounted midline aft directly beneath cockpit.
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

Try SD to Oceanside, top off and spend the night. Easy run across to Catalina the next day. Straight shot from SD to Catalina can be more than nautical miles due to prevailing current and wind: both dead on the nose. Add a swell and it becomes 14 hours easy. Coming back is that much easier though.
You didn't mention your average speed across ground- if you know that, you can figure it out.
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Old 03-15-2012
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Re: Fuel tank size for San Diego based Coastal

you could put 45 gallons in that space but that is to much. put in a 12 gallon and use the rest of the space to store gas cans for a long trip. Don't worry about the keep it full thing as you are in So Cal and the moisture in the tank is not a problem here. I have a 8 gallon tank and not enough for really long deliveries. but with my engine an additional 5 gallon gas can is plenty. my tank sits less then half full most of the time and never get any water out of it. except for a couple of long trips a year I would only have to fill it up once a year for day sailing. if you are only day sailing most of the time filling it up after sailing is less then a gallon and can be filled at dock side with a small gas can. to much hassle to go to the fuel dock after every sail
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Last edited by overbored; 03-15-2012 at 11:28 AM.
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