SailNet Community banner
  • SailNet is a forum community dedicated to Sailing enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about sailing, modifications, classifieds, troubleshooting, repairs, reviews, maintenance, and more!

Securing extra fuel and water tanks for coastal cruising

8101 Views 25 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  olson34
I have 3 portable plastic 5 gallon diesel fuel tanks and 2 portable 5 gallon water tanks, to supplement the permanent 16 gallon diesel fuel and 26 gallon water tanks on my boat for my occasional coastal passages.

While many store the tanks in the cockpit or on deck attached to the stanchions, I have read that is not safe as a boarding wave may sweep the tank and stanchion off the boat. I also don't like the cockpit being crowded with portable tanks or my ability to move forward impeded by tanks on the side decks.

Instead, I am considering installing 2 padeyes in unobtrusive locations on the cabin floor liner, then using a ratchet strap to secure the tanks and a spare battery to the interior liner. This would keep the weight of these portable tanks and spare battery (approximately 250 lbs.) low and centered and secure inside the boat. I really don't want the expense and inconvenience of adding permanent supplemental tankage for the occasional coastal trip.

Other than the potential odor, is there any downside to this approach?
  • Like
Reactions: 1
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
No, only the occasional toe stubbing. Actually, you really don't want any gas odors in the cabin.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • Like
Reactions: 1
No, only the occasional toe stubbing. Actually, you really don't want any gas odors in the cabin.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
It would be secured to the side of one of the cabin berths, alongside the main passageway. My engine is diesel rather than gas.
I'd say your ok then.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I have 2 5gal diesel jerry cans (I have a 28 gal tank) between my front dorades (behind the forward hatch, in front of the mast) which prevents side to side motion, and then tied down to the cabintop handrails. And carry up to 9 gal jugs of distilled water for consumption (besides my 66 gal of tankage). The only time I used both diesel cans was on a three day, 24/7 motor from Destin to Tampa Bay (3 hours of wind in 72 hrs) and I've never run out of consumable water.

See less See more
I sacrificed one of the v-berths up in the bow (which I don't use) and built in a very secure, fitted surround for 5 diesel containers. They are strapped down and the sides, made from 2 x 8s, allow no movement. I use the entire bow cabin for storage anyway. I worry about one of the tanks possibly rupturing from a bad welded seam but don't like having tanks up on deck. It's also nice to be able to see what's going into the fuel tank, so I try to always pump into the portable tanks rather than directly into my main 24 gal tank. Filling from the portables allows you to avoid pouring the bottom FOT you get from marina pumps into the fuel tank. When the 5 gallon containers accumulate fucocas down near the bottom, I'll run it all through a Bahama filter into one of the tanks. I would not keep gasoline below decks in containers of any sort.
Would it be possible to use a cockpit lazarette for storing the diesel instead? You could move some of the normal gear you have stored in the lazarette to down below in the cabin on trips where you anticipate the need for carrying extra fuel.
James--Do not even think about storing diesel jugs in the accommodation. The stench will make the boat unlivable and it will quickly infuse any fabrics/foam and stay with you long after the jugs have been removed. That is a mistake you do not want to make.

Considering the size of your boat and your cruising locale, I question the need for so much additional fuel. I would expect your fuel burn to be on the order of .4 to .6 GPH. At the greater consumption figure, that gives you a running time of 21 hours while retaining a 20% reserve in the primary tank. Adding a single 5 gallon jug would give you another 8 hours. (All up, 29 hours and likely 145 miles or better.) That spare could easily be secured at the aft end of your cockpit, under your tiller. As for water, ten 1-gallon jugs can be stashed in any number of spots throughout the boat without difficulty or inconvenience.

  • Like
Reactions: 2
Ditto what Kwalter and HyLyte have said. I've had brand new, yellow plastic diesel jug filled and after three driving miles, the SUV stank of fuel oil. :eek:
Imagine the sloshing going on in the cabin! Perhapssteel cans in the lazzaret for fuel storage? Better yet; there might be room for an aux tank of some sort?

best of luck,
I have 3 portable plastic 5 gallon diesel fuel tanks and 2 portable 5 gallon water tanks, to supplement the permanent 16 gallon diesel fuel and 26 gallon water tanks on my boat for my occasional coastal passages.
How far are you going between ports? I'm surprised that you would want to carry so much diesel. We have similar boats (made by the same builder) and 16 gallons of diesel is good for about 300nm of range on my boat. I have a little smaller tank (I think it is 12 or 14 gallons) and have never considered carrying more fuel. Last summer in approximately 900nm of cruising I think I went through about 20 gallons of fuel.

I carry my water in smaller flexible containers. I use 10 liter (2.5 gallon) heavy duty MSR dromedary bags. Since these are flexible and fairly flat and have tie down straps around the outer edge it is easy to find spots to tie them down in the interior. I carried 4 of them last year, which gave me a similar water capacity to what you had. The best place to carry them on my boat is attached to the compression post under the table and at the forward end of the lazarettes attached to the V-berth bulkhead. Your boat has a very different interior layout and the best place to carry them could be different. In light wind conditions I'll strap them down behind the mast between the handrails on the cabintop, but this the VCG up and isn't ideal.

This is the bag that I use: : MSR Dromedary Bag : Camping Water Storage : Sports & [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@41ayuj80HZL

I already had a number of them from my kayak touring days. They are extremely well built.
See less See more
I would like to carry as much fuel as necessary to motor the entire way, which in this case will be 300 n.m., from the Chesapeake Bay entrance. Typically in the summer, off Delmarva, I motor 50-75% of the way to Cape May. With 31 gallons burning half a gallon an hour in average conditions, I have 62 hours of motoring time, not quite enough, but I assume I will have some sailing time. Averaging 4 knots an hour, I can make it from the Chesapeake Bay entrance to Block Island, R.I., in 75 hours.

I appreciate the advice about not carrying diesel in the cabin - I can fit all 3 jugs in the cockpit or the lazerettes.
Alex - These bags look like they are just the ticket but a number of Amazon reviewers stated these bags impart "that" taste that sometimes develops when water is put in plastic containers. A couple of reviews stated that repeated flushes with fresh water over many days caused the unsavory flavor to dissipate.

What's your experience with foul taste from your bags?

Alex W., what size engine and boat do you have? 18.75 nm per gallon is very high. My Cal 31 with a 16hp diesel cruises at 5 kts and gets 13-14 nm per gallon.

Also have to consider fuel used for topping off batteries if anchored out. When we stayed at the Dry Tortugas for a week, we had to allow two hours of run time per day just to keep the batteries up. We brought extra diesel and tied it to the lifeline.

I would not like the idea of keeping any fuel in the cabin...even if it is diesel. Also, am not sure how likely it would be to experience waves sweeping the deck so as to wash away a stanchion when coastal cruising, where one can be advised of and accommodate bad weather, unlike offshore passages.

I sailed in Florida coastal waters for many years, including trips to the Bahamas, and was always able to stay away from that kind of weather.
If you could do the first half on an extension cord I'd suggest rebuilding the entire engine and battery compartment for a electric hybrid engine. I've heard that other than the wind they are the most efficient way to waste money.
(sarcasm folks).

Otherwise, find the space for the diesel tanks it takes on deck. Not ever below decks.
I'm pulling my aft life lines and replacing them with stainless 1 inch pipe, to that I'm affixing a curved 1 inch SS pipe that will be shaped to hold diesel/water/gas standard sized tanks.
I can get 5 tanks a side under my solar panels, haven't worked out what goes where yet.
Then again, I have a center cockpit so my aft end is a storage platform. So, what you do is you sell your boat, buy a center cockpit cruising boat, start looking at electric hybrid combo's and come back to this thread for good advice.

I am with you in that I don't like gerry cans on deck tied to stanchions. However I don't think I have heard of anyone getting theirs ripped off by a wave. Maybe you can get away with them there and if you are going upwind in a blow move them aft temporally.

Alex W., what size engine and boat do you have? 18.75 nm per gallon is very high. My Cal 31 with a 16hp diesel cruises at 5 kts and gets 13-14 nm per gallon.
Pearson 28-2, 16hp Yanmar 2GM, 5 knots. My boat is about 25% lighter than yours, it isn't a surprise that I'd get better fuel economy. My estimate was a rough one, but it is pretty close. My fuel economy goes way down as I push the boat to 6 knots or more. I recently changed from a very efficient Campbell Sailor prop to a less efficient feathering prop and expect that my fuel economy will likely decrease as a result.

Also have to consider fuel used for topping off batteries if anchored out.
I use solar for that, but I don't have a fridge. I don't plug the boat in at all during the summer months.
Most really hate the smell of diesel, raw or burned, it even makes them seasick. While I don't like it, the smell doesn't really bother me. If I had to endure the smell for a few days at sea, it wouldn't kill me. I would not want it as a permanent addition, but find it unlikely it would be, unless you actually spilled it where it was difficult to clean. There is always a chance that could happen below.

I like the idea of having all that weight so low in the boat. You're much more environmentally correct in having a refillable water container, but I buy 1 or 2 gallon disposable jugs and squirrel them away individually in the bilge somewhere. They too can be refilled on a cruise, as necessary, just not forever.

If you're down to only the two 5 gal diesel jugs, can you lash them to the front of the mast and down to the deck? You shouldn't be tacking too often offshore.
You should be able to secure the diesel in the aft end of the cockpit, maybe elevated so that the drains are not blocked. How often are you, if ever, in the aft of the cockpit? Alternately you could fabricate a bridge deck with storage under. I saw one P28 with water tanks mounted inside the cockpit combings to double the water capacity.
p.s. think about getting a battery operated or hand pump to transfer the diesel. There's a $10 battery model that I used for kerosene a long time ago. Worked fine and fit snug inside the neck of the jerry can, which might reduce spillage. Lots of options on Amazon. Pouring on a rolling deck is harder than it seems. Cutting a round hole in some absorbent pads to lay over the deck fitting is a good idea too.

Obviously, if there is any chance you'll be taking seas on the deck, you're not going to be transferring fuel. You may find yourself topping up your tanks, just because you have conditions that allow it, whether you think you'll need it or not.
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.