2015 New York Safe Boating - 25

With the advent of ethanol blended fuels, boaters are finding
one of the unfortunate properties of ethanol is its tendency
to attract and absorb water. Ethanol can become water
saturated when it sits for long periods and the combined
ethanol and water becomes heavier than the gasoline.
In other words, the ethanol separates from the gasoline
and sinks to the bottom of the tank. This is called phase
separation and it's bad news for the engine, which won't
run on the (water-soaked) ethanol solution. In addition, the
separated ethanol is highly corrosive and may damage your
fuel tank. So use your boat frequently during the season so
that gasoline doesn't go stale in the tank and don't leave the
boat's tanks partially filled.

compartment, or if it seems you're using more fuel than you
would	expect,	get	a	professional	to	check.		Fuel	leaking	into	
your	bilge	is	an	explosion	waiting	to	happen.

Ventilation
Gasoline vapor is heavier than air, so fuel fumes will settle
into the lower compartments and bilges of boats. Unless
there is a flow of air to push those vapors out, the vapors
remain trapped. A spark can ignite the gasoline vapors and
cause	a	fire	or	explosion.

Natural Ventilation

If your boat will go unused for long periods over the summer,
or will be laid up for the winter with fuel in its tanks, take
some precautions-especially if the fuel is an ethanol blend.
Add	stabilizer	to	extend	the	life	of	the	fuel,	and	top	off	the	

A natural ventilation system moves the air surrounding
the boat through the bilge or area surrounding the engine
compartment. The components of a natural ventilation

tank	to	95%	full	(to	allow	for	expansion)	before	you	store	
your boat. Tanks left half full or less are more prone to phase
separation.

system include an intake to pull in the air supply, and an
exhaust	to	expel	it.		The	natural	ventilation	system	brings	
fresh air through intake ducts to the area around the fuel
and engine compartments, which allows fuel vapors and
air	to	mix.		Then	the	exhaust	directs	the	air/fuel	vapor	mix	
overboard. The boat must be moving for natural ventilation
to be effective. The intake is a cowling or opening located
on	the	exterior	of	the	boat.		It	faces	forward	and	is	placed	
above	the	normal	depth	of	bilge	water.		The	exhaust	is	
attached	to	a	hose	or	duct	that	extends	to	the	lower	third	of	
the protected space, but it must also be above the normal
accumulation	of	bilge	water.		The	exhaust	must	empty	

Fuel Tanks
Foamed-in aluminum fuel tanks can crack and may develop
leaks over time. Because it's difficult to access the fuel
tanks on many of today's recreational boats, it's not easy to
detect a fuel tank leak. So be "nosy". Check the engine
compartment frequently for the smell of fuel. Keep track of
how much fuel you're using. If you smell fuel in the engine

25


http://www.boatus.com/seaworthy/ethanol.asp

2015 New York Safe Boating

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2015 New York Safe Boating - Contents
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