Chapter 3: Launching and Operation

Refueling Your Boat

Since gasoline and gasoline fumes contribute to so many boat fires and explosions, it is important to carefully fuel a vessel. Try to avoid any spills and the buildup of fumes which can often accumulate in the bilge.

Follow these precautionary steps to ensure safe fueling. Being careless during fueling can potentially result in damages to your boat, injuries, or even an explosion.

  • Secure the boat to the fueling dock and verify that the engine is off.
  • Have all passengers disembark and unload any portable fuel tanks ensuring the stability of the boat during fueling.
  • Close any door or window that would allow gasoline fumes to enter the boat. Then, after fueling remember to open all windows and doors so air can circulate through the boat again, removing any fumes that might have seeped in.
  • There should be no fire present while fueling.
  • Before fueling, hold the nozzle against the fill pipe to ground it against built-up static.
  • After fueling, do not forget to tightly secure the gas cap and clean any spills, immediately.
Refueling Your Boat

Remember that combustible fumes can accumulate in the boat during fueling and present a danger. Verify that any air vents to the gas tank are open. After fueling, check for the smell any fumes before starting the boat's engine again. If you smell fumes, increase air circulation to clear them. For vessels with an inboard engine, use the powered ventilation system to blow away any residual fumes that may have built up in the bilge. Remember to run the system for at least four full minutes before starting your engine.

Finally, remember that any portable fuel tanks need to be filled, while off of the boat, to ensure stable footing. Make sure to fill these tanks in a well-ventilated area with no flames or electrical equipment nearby.

Now that the boat is refueled, here are some tips for conserving fuel and making the most of that full tank.

  • Distribute weight evenly throughout the boat. This includes equipment and passengers. Never overload the boat as it can both waste fuel and jeopardize safety. Be sure to keep the hull clean to reduce friction.
  • Ensure that the propeller is the correct size for the boat. Check to make sure no rocks or debris are tangled in your propeller.
  • Drain water from the bilge before leaving the water by using a bilge pump or a bailing can.
  • Keep the bilge clear and clean of trash and buildup. This also reduces the risk of a fire.
  • Ensure that the engine is the correct size for the boat.
  • Practice proper and continual maintenance on your engine to keep it in top shape. Regularly replace sparkplugs.
  • Here are tips one can utilize to conserve fuel during operation.
  • Shut the engine off whenever docked or stopped.
  • Try to plane smoothly during takeoff and then reduce back to cruising speed once out on the water.