How much fuel do I need to carry?
When does too much become a weight burden and then a potential boat problem? And how much is not enough? When will questions have a simple answer? There I go again another question to an answer!
Needles to say this is actually one of the easier questions to answer. We wanted to carry enough fuel to cover the longest passage. Yeah! Some joke. The longest passage was to be almost 3,000 nautical miles. That would mean at an average of 0.5 gal an hour we would need about .... cough, cough... more than "Mouse Pad" could ever carry. So, now lets be reasonable about this. We had to do some hard thinking and research. We came up with approximately 375 ltr. (100 gal) as a fuel requirement. That would get us from just about anywhere to anywhere, except of course the longest passage. We were after all a SAILING VESSEL! We had based all this on all the books saying that fuel was not available after leaving Cabo San Lucas until we would arrive in Papeete, Tahiti. A total of about 4,000 miles. This fortunately was not to be true. By the time we were half way to Atuona, Hiva Oa we had heard on the HAM radio that fuel was readily available and even abundant in Atuona and that we didn't have to conserve if we didn't need to.
In the end we found we had to add one additional 25 gal tank in the lazorette. That gave us 50 gals in tanks and we had decided to carry another 50 gals in plastic cans on deck. Four on starboard, two on port along with 2 cans of gasoline for the outboard and generator. The outboard and generator are other questions to be answered in another section. That would give me a reasonably even balance of load, even if it did sink the boat a bit, Opps.. that should be "raised the water line a few inches". Oh, an by the way we sold the generator in Raeatea. Never needed it with the wind generator and solar panels.
This is how we cam up with the 100 gals. With a Universal 25 HP engine running at about 2000 rpm, in reasonably calm seas, we could expect to make about 5 kts. of headway using a little less than 0.5 gal per hour. This was based upon many trips to Santa Catalina Island from Marina del Rey at different speeds and sea conditions, and doing the math. Not bad we thought! In most instances it has been more than enough to get us where we need to go and then some. Even on the long passage from Cabo San Lucas to Hiva Oa we had fuel left over. My need for fuel has not yet turned into the engines thirst. Most of the time we have been carrying an excess of fuel on board. The availability of fuel throughout French Polynesia has been abundant.
We have made a practice of getting fuel in the jerry cans and filling "Mouse Pads" tanks from them. I can then filter it through a "Baja Filter". To date the worst fuel we have come across was from the good ol' US of A. Mexico has been the cleanest, and French Polynesia is not far behind Mexico.
For those with the need to know, here is where we found fuel available in unlimited quantities; Atuona, Hiva Oa - Mobil Taiohae Bay, Nuku Hiva - Shell/Total Papeete, Tahiti - Mobile/Shell/Total (duty free fuel is at either the downtown dock or at the Maeva Beach Marina) Utoroa, Raiatea - Shell Rarotonga - Mobil (they deliver it in 400 lt. drums with a hand pump) Vava'u - Shell Tongatapu - Shell
There were other places rumored to have fuel or that we saw fuel trucks at the dock, but since we didn't actually buy fuel or see others refueling I am hesitant to name them. You could almost always find someone with a 500 gal tank in there back yard and more than willing to sell you a few gals when needed.
Created by the Skipper of Mouse Pad.
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Revised: 19 September, 2005 .