Trailer Boats and PWC Refueling
Owning a trailer boat has a number of advantages, the most attractive
being the freedom to take your boat just about anywhere you want. Larger
boats are often limited by geography and therefore unable to explore
locations that are off-the-beaten path. On the other hand, a trailered
boat or PWC can go just about anywhere your vehicle can tow it.
But boating in out-of-the-way
or unfamiliar territory comes with its own set of obstacles. Finding
on-water services like marinas and fuel docks can be difficult. You’ll
need to plan ahead and perhaps even refuel your boat at a roadside
service station before hitting the launch ramp. Whether you are heading
for your local lake or cruising to a far-off waterway, here are some
things to consider before your next voyage:
General fueling tips :
No matter where you are refueling, always clear the area of anyone
not directly involved with the fueling operation, just in case…
Maintain nozzle contact with
the edge of the fill to prevent build up of static electricity which
can lead to a spark.
Portable gas cans, also known as jerry jugs, should always be placed
and refueled on the dock or pavement to ensure a good ground and prevent
sparking; as well as to minimize the chance of a spill reaching the
water. This also applies to removable fuel tanks for outboard engines.
top off your tank. Know how much fuel your tank holds and fill
it to about 90%. This provides room in the tank for fuel to expand
as the temperature outside rises.
Wipe up fuel spills immediately with an oil-only absorbent pad.
Wipe down bilge or any interior parts that may have come in contact
Ensure filler cap is properly secured to prevent fuel from leaking
or water from entering.
Always store portable fuel tanks out of direct sunlight and keep
in a cool, dry place to minimize condensation.
At the gas station:
boat; fuel goes in easier and is less likely to backsplash if your
boat is level. Adjust your bunks/rollers or lower your trailer
hitch if necessary. This can be unmanageable with the boat on the
trailer so take note of any needed changes and adjust the trailer
without the boat on it after your next launch.
it before but it’s important enough to repeat
- always refill your portable fuel containers on the ground. Even
though the bed of your truck seems perfectly stable, static electricity
can build up and cause a spark. Prevent this by filling your containers
on the pavement to insure a good ground.
your tank you want to leave enough room so when backing down the
ramp, fuel doesn’t
escape from the vent.
Check your position
when fueling; if you have to look up from the ground to refuel
your boat on a trailer it can be difficult to prevent a spill.
It may be helpful to get into your boat to refuel it so you can
see what you are doing and have greater control of the nozzle.
You might also consider carrying a step stool in your car for this
At the dock:
with your craft and stabilize it while refueling. The best way
to prevent fuel spills is to pay attention when you’re
at the pump.
Select a calm location to refuel such as the lee of a dock
(the side of a dock that is protected from heavy wind and waves).
Some marinas also offer drive-on floating docks that provide extra
stability. These are few and far between but if there is one near you,
take advantage of it.
Keep your boat
level– Determine where your
waterline is and keep it steady while fueling. Move your gear around
as needed to keep the boat balanced. Also make sure everyone is out
of the boat – you don’t want people moving around throwing
off the balance of the boat while you’re fueling. If the boat
is level, the gas tanks are level – filling is easier and the
fuel is less likely to spill.
Personal Watercraft - With their smaller size
and limited fuel capacity, refueling personal watercraft can present
other unique challenges. Here are a few tips specific to your PWC.
PWCs are low to the water it doesn’t take much for a
small spill around the nozzle to end up in the water. With a shorter
distance to fall before a drop hits the water you’ll have less
time to catch drips than you would with a larger boat. Avoid potential
distractions (like talking on a cell phone) in order to keep fuel
out of the water and water out of your fuel.
Be certain your
PWC is tied securely before refilling. If it begins to drift away
fueling the distraction could lead to a spill.
If practical, use an
oil-only absorbent pad around the deck-fill or underneath your PWC
to catch any stray drops of fuel.
To learn more about PWC safety
take our FREE
online PWC Course.
On the road with your trailer:
Tow with an
empty tank– in the boat, that is. A fully loaded
boat can affect your tow vehicle’s fuel economy, and put a strain
on your trailer. Fill up your boat’s fuel tank close to your
final launch destination.
Secure your gear – This
applies to jerry jugs and portable gas cans too. Strap them down
to prevent shifting and be certain the vents are closed.
boat – At
six pounds per gallon, the weight of fuel can add up. A fully loaded
boat can be damaged by the trailer if it is not aligned properly.
Make adjustments to the bunks or rollers as needed.
boat – Remember
that the total weight on your trailer includes the boat, motor, gear
and fuel. Boats improperly loaded can affect the handling of the
tow vehicle. By simply shifting the gear in the boat you can change
the tongue weight (the part of the trailer that connects to the
hitch on your vehicle) which should be between 5-10% of the total
weight on the trailer. The subtleties of balancing a boat on its
trailer can be complicated and vary from boat to boat. To make
sure that your boat and trailer are adequately situated, ask your
local trailer expert or read more about Boat Transport and Trailering here.
Be sure to read our complete list of Safe
and Clean Fueling Tips or
click here to
download the Basics of Fueling brochure.
For more trailering advice check
out the BoatU.S.