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The most important things to remember when fueling a boat

July 6, 2021

It is imperative that boat fueling procedures are followed correctly in order to prevent fires, injuries and gasoline spills. In this handy guide, we go over all the safety measures you should take when fueling a boat to avoid any problems.

Safety precautions to take when fueling a boat

Not only can the vapours from raw fuel cause a fire hazard, but they are extremely harmful to the environment. Follow these safety precautions step-by-step when fueling a boat to ensure everyone’s safety and avoid an environmental spill:

  • Keep the boat moored to the dock tightly to prevent spills
  • Turn the engine off
  • Extinguish all on board flames (smoking, cooking, etc.) before beginning the procedure
  • All passengers must disembark before fueling the boat
  • Make sure all electronic devices, such as radios, switches, and batteries, are turned off. A spark resulting from a short in any of these devices could cause explosions
  • Close all the doors, windows, and hatches. Gas fumes can spread to the bottom of the craft and cause an explosion when the engine is started because gasoline is heavier than air
  • When refueling, portable tanks must always be removed from the boat. This ensures that any spilled fuel would land on the dock rather than on the boat, reducing chances of an explosion
  • For a fixed tank, make sure the nozzle is grounded against the filler pipe. This will prevent spills into the water and boat and most of all avoid static, as an explosion may result from the sparks
  • Be careful not to overfill your fuel tank (do not go beyond 90% full). Overflow could leak through the ventilation or into the water and pollute the environment. Fuel spilled on the dock or on your craft must be cleaned up immediately. Dispose of rags in approved containers
  • Make sure there are no vapour odours. The engine should not be started until fumes are completely dispersed from the area. Increase air circulation around the area if you smell fumes before turning the engine on

If you have an onboard engine, the blower must be on for at least 4 minutes before starting the engine. This will enable any dangerous fumes to fully evaporate. After all of the above precautions have been followed, it will be safe to turn the engine on and allow passengers to reembark the vessel.

How to estimate how much fuel is needed for a boat trip

The basic rule of thumb to estimate the amount of fuel needed for a boat trip is: 1/3 for the trip out, 1/3 for the return, and 1/3 as reserve. As mentioned above, always remember to not fill your tank above 90% capacity.

What should you always do before starting an inboard engine?

Before turning on the inboard engine, check for any smell of gas. If your inboard engine is powered by gas, the blower should be running for at least four minutes before starting the motor to ensure any hazardous vapours are fully dissipated.

Fuel your boat safely to avoid disaster

With these safety measures in mind, you will have no problem fueling a boat safely and avoiding injury, fire hazards and environmental spills. If you have not yet obtained your Canadian boating license online, we hope this article will serve as a good reference before taking the official boat license exam.