The Captain Rob Cozen
Certified Marine Surveyor NewsLetter
September 1997 Archive


Always exercise extreme caution when fueling a boat. Remember, gasoline vapors can be more explosive than dynamite. Since gasoline vapor is heavier than air, it may settle in the bilge and a spark may trigger an explosion.

Most boat fires occur just after refueling. They are caused by smoking, poor maintenance or carelessness. Common sense can prevent most fires. Check the entire fuel system for leaks. Tighten connections frequently. Motor vibrations and rough weather loosen them.

Prepare outboard gas and oil mixtures on the dock when possible. Pour gasoline and oil into a separate container and shake well. Then strain into the tank with a strainer or funnel. Grit, water and dirt can ruin a motor. Do not fill the tank completely. Allow for (heat) expansion. Store extra gasoline on board in a separate, safety-approved, auxiliary tank. Be sure that the tank has a good air supply. Keep the tank away from the boat's motor and batteries.

  1. Always remove the portable tanks from the boat for refueling.
  2. Shut off motors that could create a spark or heat. Turn off electrical equipment and liquid propane gas tanks.
  3. Close all windows, doors, and openings (companionways) before refueling. Overcome the natural tendency to leave everything open. Closing all compartments prevents vapors from seeping into the boat.
  4. Try to fuel before night. If light is needed, use a flashlight or a light that is spark-proof.
  5. Never smoke when fueling or near a fuel dock. Check tobacco that might be smoldering.
  6. When filling from a gas can, touch the fuel pipe or tank with the spout while pouring. This prevents a build-up of static electricity when could produce a spark.
  7. When fueling from a pump, keep the nozzle in contact with the tank.
  8. After fueling, wipe up all spilled fuel. Air the rag after using. Never throw it into the boat or the water. If it must be stored, seal it in a tightly covered metal container.
  9. Gasoline vapors must be drawn or forced out of low pockets in the Bilge. Open all doors, windows, ports and hatches. Let the air blow through for at least five minutes. Use only explosion-proof fans with spark-proof switches to clear the area of fumes. Turn on your power blower for at least four minutes.
  10. Open the engine compartment and check all lines and connections for leaks. Sniff around gas lines, motor and bilges. When vapors are gone, start the motor.



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Captain Rob Cozen
Master Marine Surveyor
P.O. Box 220
Somers Point, NJ 08244
Office: (609) 926-4949 - Cell: (609) 335-1500
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copyright 1997, Captain Rob Cozen, all rights reserved.