1. A leak: This may be in the tank, hose,
or fuel pump. This may be obvious (liquid
fuel is evident) or may only happen when
the boat is running. Either way, inspect and
immediately tend to the problem.
2. Permeation: We blame ethanol for everything but one thing it can do is prematurely
destroy older rubber hoses. If you can smell
a strong gasoline odor from the hose itself,
the fuel vapor may be permeating through
the hose. This is extremely dangerous as fuel
vapor is much easier to ignite than liquid gas.
3. Fuel in the wrong place: We have all
heard and some have witnessed refueling
“malfunctions” where 50 gallons is pumped
into the holding/water tank or even a rod
holder. Make sure what is supposed to be
in all your tanks is actually what is in there!
Similarly, make sure a portable fuel tank
(jerry can or small outboard tank) is not
stored inside the cabin or in a place with no
ventilation. This is dangerous as well.
I do a semiannual fuel system inspection,
at winterization and spring commissioning.
Check every hose, joint, and fitting and
make sure that vent is clear (once you find
it). Every boat owner needs to know and be
able to access and inspect all the major fuel
system components, so take some time and
go on a scavenger hunt, and please, do it
before you use the boat again!
THAT #@&! GREEN WIRE
I can’t believe you experts don’t see the folly
of connecting AC ground to DC ground,
breaking the electronics rule, “Don’t mix
grounds!” You can’t convince me a current leak large enough to charge the water
wouldn’t kick a breaker, so why would you
want to connect to all the other boats in
the marina? Instead of buying an expensive
isolator (nothing more than back-to-back
diodes), just eliminate the problem, and
don’t connect your outdrive or prop shaft to
DON CASEY: Your faith in breakers is mis-
placed. In seawater you are almost right, as
saltwater is a decent conductor and enough
current is likely to flow to trip a breaker. The
same is not true in freshwater. Freshwater
sailors are at extreme risk from boats that fail
to connect the AC grounding wire to the DC
ground. If you do any of your sailing in fresh
water, I urge you to read this — www.today-
ing_incidents.pdf — a numbing litany of
swimmers suffering electric shock around
boats and docks.
MEET THE EXPERTS
He’s been one of the most consulted experts on boat care and
upgrades for 30 years, and a panelist on our “Ask The Experts”
website for a decade. He and his wife cruise aboard their 30-footer
part of the year in the eastern Caribbean. His books include Don
Casey’s Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual, and the
recently updated This Old Boat, the bible for do-it-yourself boaters.
I have a 1979 Endeavour sailboat and I need
to clean out the thru-hull fittings. I had one
closed with barnacles in it. Someone told
me to spray muriatic acid into them. What is
your opinion as to how to clean them?
Cape Coral, FL
TOM NEALE: I would not spray muriatic acid into your thru-hulls. If you spray
enough, this could get rid of the barnacles,
but it could also impair the metal. Also,
this is nasty stuff and could harm you and
those nearby, particularly when you spray
it. Airborne muriatic acid could be quite
injurious. I use a kitchen knife, appropriately sized screwdriver, or carrot peeler and
physically scrape loose the barnacles on
my boat, taking care not to damage a hose
or valve with the hard tool. I inspect my
thru-hulls regularly in the water, and clean
them if needed to avoid a bad buildup.
The President of the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC), John
grew up boating. He’s been in the industry since 1990, with experience from a yacht brokerage and boatyard to owning a marine
supply store. He and his family sail their classic 1976 Irwin ketch, a
boat he completely restored. John is a trusted source for technical
information for industry professionals.
He’s maintained, lived aboard, and cruised long distance on boats
with his wife and family for most of his adult life. He can take apart
and fix almost every system aboard a boat, has written two books,
filmed a two-set DVD on East Coast cruising, written for top marine
magazines, and has won nine first-place awards from Boating
Writers International and many awards for his technical writing.
The editor of Seaworthy, the damage avoidance newsletter of
BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, Bob has written hundreds of articles
on safety, loss prevention, and causes of boating accidents. His
2006 book, Seaworthy, Essential Lessons of Things Gone Wrong,
is based on 20 years of real claims files. He’s owned Folkboats to
J-Boats and currently sails a 36-foot sloop.
CONTACT THESE AND ALL OUR EXPERTS AT WWW.BOATUS.COM/ASK
YOU’LL FIND HUNDREDS OF QUESTIONS AND EXPERT ANSWERS ALREADY
ARCHIVED. THE BEST PART? THIS SERVICE IS FREE TO MEMBERS.