Fueling up for the summer boating season
Summer is finally here, and with it comes a busy and exciting season of boating. As boaters, we regularly handle fuel, oil and batteries. Other potential pollutants you might deal with on your boat include antifreeze, sewage, graywater (from the galley or on-board shower), hydraulic oil, cleaning and maintenance products. Knowing how to most effectively and responsibly handle these things helps you keep the water clean, protects salmon, saves money and ensures a safe and fun boating experience.
This week we’re going to talk about fueling our boats. Most of us have plenty of experience fueling cars. But fueling boats is very different and requires extra care. Why?
• Boats aren’t pressurized! For safety reasons, there is an air vent on boats that is part of the fueling system, allowing air to escape during fueling. This also is a place where fuel can escape, and often these vents are located on the outside of the hull.
• Fuel tanks in boats are generally larger than in cars.
• Fuel docks and tenders tend to have nozzles that pump fuel faster than at the gas station.
These three things can mean burps and spills of fuel overboard even during careful fueling. Thankfully there are many tips and a few tools that can help eliminate spills when fueling.
• Know the capacity of your fuel tank. Only fill up to 90 percent, especially during warm weather.
• Fill your tank slowly to prevent overflows.
• Always use absorbent pads to catch drips and burps around the fuel nozzle, and keep absorbents secured in your bilge to avoid oily discharges.
• Fill up on land whenever possible.
• Use fuel vent overflow devices to prevent fuel from spilling into the water from fuel vents. Contact Cook Inletkeeper for more info on No Spill containers for your boat.
• Consider installing a fuel whistle in the vent line to your fuel tank. These devices are cheap and simple to install, and will give you an audible warning to help avoid burps and overflows during fueling.
• Keep all oily bilge water out of the inlet, lakes and rivers — pull your drain plug away from the launch.
• Say no to using soaps on sheens! All soaps mix with fuel and send it down into the water, making it impossible to clean up and more toxic to aquatic life. Use absorbent pads and preventative fueling techniques to keep fuel out of the water.
Contact Rachel at Cook Inletkeeper to receive a free Clean Boating Kit that includes oil absorbents and a clean fueling magnet to help remember these simple steps. You can also visit our website (www.inletkeeper.org) for more information on clean fueling and other clean boating tips and tricks. Remember —- a clean boat is a safe boat, and can also save you money.
Rachel Lord is the outreach and monitoring coordinator at Cook Inletkeeper. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-235-4068 ext. 29