U.S. COAST GUARD AUXILIARY

Flotilla 42, Rochester, New York

MINI BOATER SAFETY LESSON

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INTRODUCTION:   Flotilla 42 (United States Coast Guard Auxiliary) presents a short mini-lesson on safe boating topics. This mini lesson gives only the minimum training for safety equipment and general information. To obtain a greater knowledge of boating skills and seamanship, we encourage you to attend more in-depth boating courses. There are links below for Flotilla 42 boating courses.

Lesson: FUELING

Fueling your boat can be dangerous—improper fueling practices are the cause of most fires aboard boats. Gasoline vapor is heaver than air, so it will always seek the lowest location in the boat: the bilge. The bilge area usually runs through the engine space, so this means that gasoline vapor can gather around the engine. Fuel vapors quickly reach explosive levels when trapped in a boat’s engine compartment, and any ignition, even the smallest spark, can create an explosion.

Proper Fueling Practices
You can greatly reduce the risk of explosion by always following proper fueling practices.

Take the following steps whenever you fuel your boat:

  • Moor the boat securely to the dock.
  • Remove all passengers.
  • Extinguish all galley fires including pilot lights.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Shut off engines and electrical equipment including blower.
  • Close all hatches and ports.
  • Fill portable tanks on the dock, not in the boat.
  • Keep fuel nozzle in contact with fill opening to minimize the risk of a static spark.
  • Replace fuel fill cap tightly.
  • Wipe up any spilled fuel.
  • Check bilges for leakage.
  • Run blower for four minutes.
Keep the fuel nozzle in contact with the fill opening to keep static electricity from building up and causing a spark.

Don’t overfill your tank! The tank will overflow and the spilled fuel will pose a fire hazard. Once you’ve filled the tank, open up all hatches. On an inboard boat, run the blower for at least 4 minutes to rid the boat of stray vapors.

After fueling and running the blower, sniff the engine space before you start the engine. If you can smell gasoline, wait a few more minutes before you start the engine. And be sure to always secure your portable fuel tanks before you leave the dock.

NEVER STORE PORTABLE FUEL TANKS IN AN INTERIOR COMPARTMENT!

Note:
Some alcohol blended fuels may accelerate the deterioration of fuel hoses. Some blends make hoses brittle, which may cause cracking, while others can make hoses soft and spongy, which allows vapors to permeate the hose. This happens most often when boats sit for long periods of time. Contact your dealer/manufacturer concerning possible problems regarding alcohol blended gasoline. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is especially true when it comes to your fuel system. Some marinas may carry non-ethanol gasoline.

With the advent of ethanol blended fuels, boaters are finding one of the unfortunate properties of ethanol is its tendency to attract and absorb water. Ethanol can become water saturated when it sits for long periods and the combined ethanol and water becomes heavier than the gasoline. In other words, the ethanol separates from the gasoline and sinks to the bottom of the tank. This is called phase separation and it’s bad news for the engine, which won’t run on the (water-soaked) ethanol solution. In addition, the separated ethanol is highly corrosive and may damage your fuel tank. So use your boat frequently during the season so that gasoline doesn’t go stale in the tank and don’t leave the boat’s tanks partially filled.

If your boat will go unused for long periods over the summer, or will be laid up for the winter with fuel in its tanks, take some precautions–especially if the fuel is an ethanol blend. Add stabilizer to extend the life of the fuel, and top off the tank to 95% full (to allow for expansion) before you store your boat. Tanks left half full or less are more prone to phase separation. Fuel Tanks Foamed-in aluminum fuel tanks can crack and may develop leaks over time. Because it’s difficult to access the fuel tanks on many of today’s recreational boats, it’s not easy to detect a fuel tank leak. So be “nosy”. Check the engine compartment frequently for the smell of fuel. Keep track of how much fuel you’re using. If you smell fuel in the engine compartment, or if it seems you’re using more fuel than you would expect, get a professional to check. Fuel leaking into your bilge is an explosion waiting to happen.

REVIEW QUESTIONS
  1. Refueling is dangerous, but if certain precautions are carefully ob¬served many of the potential hazards of refueling can be controlled. Which of the procedures below is NOT a desirable one?
    1. ) Moor securely to the fueling dock.
    2. ) Extinguish all flames aboard
    3. ) Ground the hose nozzle.
    4. ) Leave all doors and windows open.


  2. After fueling, allow the boat to ventilate at least?
    1. ) One minute.
    2. ) Three minutes.
    3. ) Four minutes
    4. ) Ten minutes.


  3. Perhaps the best way to prevent an explosion is to keep the areas where explosive mixtures are most likely to form
    1. ) Exceptionally dry.
    2. ) Very clean.
    3. ) Well painted
    4. ) Thoroughly ventilated.



Answers follow the information below.


CONTACT INFORMATION  /  REGISTRATION:

If you live in or near the Greater Rochester, New York area, Flotilla 42 offers boating courses for boaters who are interested in boater safety.

If you have any questions about boater safety training or questions about boater safety contact the following Flotilla Staff Officer:

    Ron Infarinato,  FSO-PE:  Auxiliary42class@gmail.com

    For information concerning dates and cost, Click Here.

    To register for a boating course, Click Here.

    Information about where we are located, Click Here.



Answers to Previous Questions:

  1. Refueling is dangerous, but if certain precautions are carefully ob¬served many of the potential hazards of refueling can be controlled. Which of the procedures below is NOT a desirable one?
    1. ) Moor securely to the fueling dock.
    2. ) Extinguish all flames aboard
    3. ) Ground the hose nozzle.
    4. ) Leave all doors and windows open.


  2. After fueling, allow the boat to ventilate at least?
    1. ) One minute.
    2. ) Three minutes.
    3. ) Four minutes
    4. ) Ten minutes.


  3. Perhaps the best way to prevent an explosion is to keep the areas where explosive mixtures are most likely to form
    1. ) Exceptionally dry.
    2. ) Very clean.
    3. ) Well painted
    4. ) Thoroughly ventilated.