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Old 17-10-2011, 12:05   #1
RDW
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Fuel Bladder Placement

I am doing the Caribbean 1500 ( Hampton Virginia to Tortolla). I have a 46 foot boat.
We have purchased a 50 gallon fuel bladder for additional fuel reserve. We are planning on putting it on the deck in front of the mast. My question is weight and placement of that weight for optimal safety and boat handling. Below in the bilge would be the best place for the weight but I have no room below.
Any body got any experience or advice?
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Old 17-10-2011, 12:39   #2
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Re: fuel bladder placement

Putting it on deck is a really bad idea - it will obviously compromise stability, and you should try to imagine the worst result if it gets loose. You simply cannot turn a sailing vessel into a motor sailor.

The other side of the advice column is to sail more and motor less. Ask yourself "what is the fuel really going to be used for?". Freezing steaks? Keeping to a schedule? Firing up a water maker? C'mon! Let's go sailing! The more you can leave behind, the more enjoyable your trip can be.
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Old 17-10-2011, 12:46   #3
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Re: fuel bladder placement

If you're going in open water you have to ask yourself what will happen when a wave crashes over the deck and slaps that 50 gallon bladder. Can you secure it properly? What are you going to do, put it in a box or something? That fuel is going to slosh around up there. How are you going to transfer it into your tanks? etc etc.

Weight would be the least of my concerns with a 50 gallon bladder on deck.
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Old 17-10-2011, 12:52   #4
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Re: fuel bladder placement

The steaks will be sent out every three days by helocopter frozen solid. We need the extra electricity to keep the beer keg cooler going and the wine cooler running. The water maker is nuclear.
Now back to the question at hand?!
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Old 17-10-2011, 13:00   #5
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Re: fuel bladder placement

300lbs on the deck of a 46 footer is no big deal.
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Old 17-10-2011, 13:10   #6
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

Speak with Miles Poor when you get to Hampton; he is in the Rally. He carries a large bladder tank on his boat every year.
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Old 17-10-2011, 13:11   #7
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

RDW - Very funny. Sure, you might get away with adding 350 lbs of sloshing liquid in a tank just waiting to chafe through and spill all over the deck and into the ocean. Sure, you may not run into a storm where the marginal lost stability may be needed to prevent a capsize. But why add these risks and headaches when what you are doing is simply going sailing?
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Old 17-10-2011, 19:19   #8
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Re: fuel bladder placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by kmacdonald View Post
300lbs on the deck of a 46 footer is no big deal.
Until it gets loose.
Unless it can be REALLY secured, like in a crate that can be battened down, jerrycans might be better than a bladder up on deck. Imagine it gets punctured by the spinnaker pole, or if someone's up the mast straightening out a sheave, and drops a screwdriver into it. We used bladders to add to our water supply going transatlantic. The point was that they could be put in the bilge or under bunks, and conform to whatever shape was available (using space as efficiently as possible) without shifting (they were fastened down as well) while keeping weight down low. 50 gallons of extra fuel on deck is not a big deal. Stowing it in a bladder, however, raises issues. Maybe if we knew it was a bulletproof kevlar bladder with gallon-sized internal baffles that could be through-bolted with 3/8" bolts on 6" centers to the deck we'd think differently.
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Old 17-10-2011, 19:24   #9
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Re: fuel bladder placement

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Higgins View Post
"what is the fuel really going to be used for?". Freezing steaks? Keeping to a schedule? Firing up a water maker? C'mon! Let's go sailing! The more you can leave behind, the more enjoyable your trip can be.
I've always found on any trips I have done, the more steaks, cold beers and fresh water I have available, the more enjoyable it is.

The worst trips were the ones where we ate out of cans , had limited or no refrigeration and limited fresh water.
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Old 17-10-2011, 19:26   #10
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

Can the bladder be placed on the floor below and stepped over? Perhaps a ply box/bridge over top so you can walk over it?
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Old 21-10-2011, 07:36   #11
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

Thanks to everyone for the opinions and advice.
It will be interesting.
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Old 21-10-2011, 08:02   #12
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

We did that trip by ourselves a few years ago, not in the 1500. We had mostly light air, and used 35-40 gallons of fuel in about 13 days, if memory serves. A Morris 46 must have a fair amount of tankage, and it certainly sails well. 50 gallons on deck sounds like more of a headache than a comfort.
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Old 21-10-2011, 08:10   #13
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

The bladder is probably no worse than carrying ten plastic jugs tied to the rail. i allways thought that was an invitation for a disaster. We allways got boarding waves on that trip and once bent two stantions when water filled a head sail we had tied down forward after a halyard broke.
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Old 21-10-2011, 08:32   #14
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

I once spent a dark and stormy night trying to tackle a 5 gallon plastic jerry can with fuel that had broken free of it's lashings as 5 young turks tried to tackle this lurching menace.Luckly no one got knocked overboard or had body parts crushed and the fuel stayed inside.
I have always viewed with suspicion these topside arrangements; sorry, but it smacks of poor seamanship.
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Old 21-10-2011, 09:16   #15
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Re: Fuel Bladder Placement

You are exactly right but it was a gift from my excellent crew who were also looking out for themselves, not wanting to run out of fuel???!!!
Another thought was that if we are successful we may want it for longer trips and need the experience.
It is interesting that the most negative responses I have had are from people who have never used a fuel bladder and the people who have used one have all been positive to a degree. Go figure?
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