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Old 31-07-2015, 11:12   #1
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How much fuel?

Time for a new fuel tank, curious to know how much fuel people think they need "out there"?

We crossed the Atlantic on a delivery last summer on a boat with a 25 gallon tank and hardly used 10 gallons to keep the batteries charged and put-put into the harbor.

I suppose bigger is better, but then if you mostly sail and don't run the engine except to charge the batteries how much do you really need? Seems like enough to motor for a couple days would be the minimum, which would be about 30 gallons for us.

Not sure about our long term cruising plans other than hoping to go out and get lost for a while and expect to do so with a respectable solar/wind set-up and a decent sized battery bank.

Day sailing or going out for a week or so with our existing 40 gallon tank and then topping off at the end of the season always meant that I had some of the fuel in the tank that was more than a couple years old which makes me think twice about going bigger rather than smaller.

Any thoughts?
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:15   #2
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Re: How much fuel?

I figure the only time you can have too much fuel is if your on fire.
Seriously, I figure there may be times that you have to motor, due to illness or maybe injury, waiting on the wind may not be an option.
I remember Rebel Heart, he believed 30 was plenty if I remember correctly and left with only that, but if he had had much more, just maybe it might have been a different outcome?

Plus on edit, if you have a large tank, you can "tanker" fuel, that is skip the expensive places, but fill up on cheap fuel when you can.
Yes I do understand what the weight will do to me performance wise, but I'll live with that
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:22   #3
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Re: How much fuel?

Our fuel tank capacity is 225 gallons, and I'd probably fill our four jerry cans if crossing the Atlantic.... just in case. But that's me.
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:33   #4
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Re: How much fuel?

I motor a lot, have a 125 gallon tank (35' boat) and hate it. I can't keep fresh fuel in it. Its way too big for me. When I put a new tank in, which I'm afraid will be sooner than later I'll go much smaller. Maybe 30-50 gallon.

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Old 31-07-2015, 12:38   #5
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Re: How much fuel?

Weight is not really a concern since I had already taken so much out of the boat I can put back in whatever I want leaving size as the limiting factor. Good point about the potential safety net provided by a larger capacity.

I guess maybe a better question is how many people have found themselves making cruising plans based on solely on their range under power as opposed to other concerns like wind and weather or provisions and fresh water supply?
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Old 31-07-2015, 12:40   #6
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Re: How much fuel?

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Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
I motor a lot, have a 125 gallon tank (35' boat) and hate it. I can't keep fresh fuel in it. Its way too big for me. When I put a new tank in, which I'm afraid will be sooner than later I'll go much smaller. Maybe 30-50 gallon.

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Concern about keeping fuel fresh is what got me going on this in the first place. Hence the bigger maybe not better question.

Ken, how often do you figure you turn over your fuel?
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Old 31-07-2015, 13:13   #7
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Re: How much fuel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Time for a new fuel tank, curious to know how much fuel people think they need "out there"?

Any thoughts?
No comment on the 'how much' question as I have not been "out there" on an ocean crossing.

I will say that if you get a new tank, try and get one that has a "V" shaped or even better, a conical shaped bottom with the fuel supply line (or a simple drain fitting) located at the extreme low point. This will result in having a water-free tank. No water = No bugs.

This will alleviate many of the concerns about having a perpetually 1/2 full tank and the condensation this condition is believed to produce. I personally have never filled my tanks (because they are large) and have found only a few drops of water in my sumps during the last 15 years.

I also believe that diesel has a very long shelf life. I foolishly gave away a batch of 10 year old diesel that looked, smelled, and worked perfectly - in an engine.

Now that the boat is being used regularly, I buy fuel once a year.

Steve
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Old 31-07-2015, 13:35   #8
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Re: How much fuel?

I total 110 gallons of diesel that I keep in two equal sized tanks. I usually shift tank supply feeds when the volume in one tank reaches about 20%. Most often when I buy fuel, I'm taking on 40 to 50 gallons to top off, so I'm never coming close to depleating my supply. I have 6,750 hours on my 15 year old Yanmar so I'm averaging 450 hours of motoring per year. This is not all time motoring underway as this is my 7K diesel generator supply too and I still run the Yanmar a minimum of 30 minutes a week if I'm not motoring underway.

I have always assumed that a fuel flow into a good volume of return line helps keep my fuel fresh an a good rate of use. I've known people who end up with clogged filters when they motor in some chop after having a vessel sit for a long time. I believe that being a fulltime cruiser with a lot of use keeps my volume of diesel clean. If I were using less fuel per year, I would want far smaller tanks.
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Old 31-07-2015, 13:41   #9
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Re: How much fuel?

There are excellent fuel stabilizers and catalysts that solve the problems of even today's crappy fuel from going bad. You can't buy fuel on the ocean.
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Old 31-07-2015, 13:42   #10
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Re: How much fuel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Time for a new fuel tank, curious to know how much fuel people think they need "out there"?
You might want to have a look at this recent thread...

Cruisers: How Much Fuel?
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Old 31-07-2015, 14:04   #11
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Re: How much fuel?

Thanks for the link, I'll give it a read.

To be more specific should have said "out there cruising full time" in typical cruising locations like Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, or maybe the Med rather than implying "out there making ocean passages".

As in coastal cruising or island hopping where I think you are probably never more than a couple days away from being able to score more fuel if you need it, but maybe that's not really how it is "out there"?

Maybe thinking too hard about having too much old fuel on board but have delivered a few boats with old fuel and changed a lot of filters so a little bit wary. Also, not planning on being in a hurry and enjoy sailing more than motoring is a factor for me.
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Old 31-07-2015, 14:10   #12
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Re: How much fuel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Delancey View Post
Thanks for the link, I'll give it a read.

To be more specific should have said "out there cruising full time" in typical cruising locations like Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, or maybe the Med rather than implying "out there making ocean passages".

As in coastal cruising or island hopping where I think you are probably never more than a couple days away from being able to score more fuel if you need it, but maybe that's not really how it is "out there"?

Maybe also thinking too hard about having too much old fuel on board but have delivered a few boats with old fuel and changed a lot of filters so a little bit wary.
I don't think your fuel concerns are overplayed. My boat has 36 year old Taiwanese built black iron tanks. It isn't just the fuel going bad I worry about, its all the crap, debris and sludge that accumulates in such a large tank.

In honesty though, I've never actually had a fuel problem on the boat, its just one of the things I like to worry about.

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Old 31-07-2015, 14:31   #13
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Re: How much fuel?

I have 50-gal and feel that is fine. I normally get fuel when I need water (have 150 gal), which normally means I get 100+ gal of water and around 15-20 gal of fuel.

In my mind both fuel and water tankage is as much about the PIA to go refill than anything else.
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Old 31-07-2015, 15:00   #14
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Re: How much fuel?

Well, the other thread was an interesting read. Sorry I missed it before. I think I am in the less is more camp and would rather have a lighter boat that sails better in light wind than a heavier boat that needs to motor in light wind but that's just me. Gonna sleep on it though and order a new tank tomorrow. Thanks again for the link.

In the meantime, noticed several suggest that the Rebel Heart saga ended the way it did because of lack of fuel. Do you really suppose Eric sees it that way?
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Old 31-07-2015, 15:36   #15
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Re: How much fuel?

Delancey,

A 45 gal. tank did us for our first 18 yrs. cruising. No gen set. Never running on fumes. If your usage is to mainly sail, rarely motor or motor-sail, I'd think your 40 gal. size would be adequate. If you use a gen set a lot, I really don't know.

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