Boating 101: Boat Refueling Tips

Boating 101: Boat Refueling Tips

Boat Refueling Tips
No matter what type of craft you're sailing out on. Be it a 50-foot yacht or the tiniest personal watercraft. Every single one needs to be refueled time and again. This should be one of the easiest routine tasks to be performed. However time and again there are horror stories of how a boat "out of nowhere suddenly caught fire."

When just an ounce of precaution can save a pound of headache, here are a few boat refueling tips to make sure your next outing doesn't leave you hot under the collar.

Clear the Area

This should be first and foremost every time refueling is done. Only the person filling the tank should be anywhere near the craft during that time. Not only does this help cut down on distractions. It prevents any accidental tipping of the boat. Which in turn will help to avoid spillage or runoff as fuel is applied.


You don't refill your car while the engine is still running. The same goes for your boat. Make sure the engine is completely shut down. As well as any electronics you might have. Leaving electric devices running could potentially generate a static charge. When it only causes one spark to start a fire. You want to minimize any and all risk.

Close up Any Confined Areas

Confined spaces such as a lower cabin are very susceptible to collecting fumes. Especially while refueling, make sure those doors, windows, etc. are all sealed tight. Fuel vapors are, if anything, even more dangerous. As when they ignite the built up pressure is going to want to escape. Violently.

Keep the Fuel Nozzle Against the Fill

Here is where our pesky friend static electricity comes in again. Always there and ready to cause problems. As you are fueling up, make sure to keep a point of contact at all times with the lip of the tank to discharge static.

Don't be Tempted to "Top Off" the Tank

Fuel has a tendency to expand as the temperature rises. So always leave yourself a little room for play. The universal standard seems to be, fill the tank to 90% capacity. With the other 10% open to allow for this expansion.

Finishing Up

Once finished refueling, close up the tank. Open up all windows, hatches, etc. to allow for excess vapors to release. Once everything is properly aired out, it is a good idea to check for leaks. Just get down to the engine and smell for any signs that fuel has escaped.

If all of the above steps have been taken. Then your boat is refueled and ready to hit the water again. Who knew such a simple task could require so much forethought?

New York Marine Trades Association