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Old 10-25-2020, 07:45 PM   #1
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Fuel capacity vs fresh water capacity

I am considering removing one of my 2 smaller fuel tanks. It would leave 1 smaller tank and 2 larger tanks still in place. That leaves between 500 to 600 gallons of fuel capacity, or well over 1200 miles of range (probably more like 1500) with the 3 remaining tanks.

I would replace the tank with an additional fresh water tank and some useful storage. This tank is in the lazarette area (under the cockpit). The tank is not leaking.
This is a 30-year old trawler for near shore cruising, not a passage maker. I cannot imagine any future owner would need more fuel or range. I also think they would benefit from the extra fresh water and storage. Instinctively, I hesitate to reduce fuel capacity/cruising range, yet the extra water and storage are more appealing than what seems like more fuel capacity than we need on this boat.

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-25-2020, 07:52 PM   #2
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How much water and holding tank capacity do you have? While having lots of fuel capacity allows you to shop and travel for the best fuel prices, there should be balance on how long you can go between water and pumpout stops. As a comparison, my 45' boat has 650 gallons of fuel (2,000 mile range), 300 gallons of water, and an 80 gallon waste tank.

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Old 10-25-2020, 07:53 PM   #3
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How much water do you carry? That may make the difference. But if you have 1000+ mile range, that is probably fine. We donít have near that range. I would like more water also but donít have anywhere to put a tank.
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Old 10-25-2020, 08:38 PM   #4
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I am considering removing one of my 2 smaller fuel tanks.not a passage maker. ...I cannot imagine any future owner would need more fuel or range. I also think they would benefit from the extra fresh water and storage.

Any thoughts?

The answer depends a lot on your fuel consumption and your cruise radius. But I can tell you this:


I have two hungry 10 liter Cat diesels with 380 gals of fuel, with good data on consumption and sorta predictable gauges, and 180 gals of water. I have never worried about fuel, but often wonder if I have enough water.


I seldom run below 3/8 fuel, but have actually run my water low enough that an unexpected shortage in rural BC caused me to divert six hours out of my way to tank up.
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Old 10-25-2020, 08:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ2Loop View Post
I am considering removing one of my 2 smaller fuel tanks. It would leave 1 smaller tank and 2 larger tanks still in place. That leaves between 500 to 600 gallons of fuel capacity, or well over 1200 miles of range (probably more like 1500) with the 3 remaining tanks.

I would replace the tank with an additional fresh water tank and some useful storage. This tank is in the lazarette area (under the cockpit). The tank is not leaking.
This is a 30-year old trawler for near shore cruising, not a passage maker. I cannot imagine any future owner would need more fuel or range. I also think they would benefit from the extra fresh water and storage. Instinctively, I hesitate to reduce fuel capacity/cruising range, yet the extra water and storage are more appealing than what seems like more fuel capacity than we need on this boat.

Any thoughts?
Your estimated range indicates a fuel economy of 2 mpg on what you will have after the conversion of 1 tank from fuel to fresh water.
By comparison, my 45' boat has about the same fuel capacity, same economy and 300 gal of fresh water. If I were to go on a 1200 mile journey, I would likely run out of water before I would run out of fuel.
Luckily, most, if not all fuel stops can fill your water as well.
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Old 10-25-2020, 08:40 PM   #6
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Luckily, most, if not all fuel stops can fill your water as well.

Shearwater comes to mind.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:25 PM   #7
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The answer depends a lot on your fuel consumption and your cruise radius. But I can tell you this:


I have two hungry 10 liter Cat diesels with 380 gals of fuel, with good data on consumption and sorta predictable gauges, and 180 gals of water. I have never worried about fuel, but often wonder if I have enough water.


I seldom run below 3/8 fuel, but have actually run my water low enough that an unexpected shortage in rural BC caused me to divert six hours out of my way to tank up.

Sounds like you need to add a watermaker.
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:20 PM   #8
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A sailor friend who has circumnavigated advised that a stream of water from the tap that is thicker than the lead of a pencil is wasted water. I never tested the theory.
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Old 10-26-2020, 01:46 AM   #9
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It would be helpful if you told us how big your current tank is and how big the 'spare' tank is you are considering for conversion.

Exactly why do you want more water? Are you running out of water often? Is there not good supplies of water where you cruise? I'm not sure I would go through the headaches of that conversation unless I had a good reason to. My NT37 has a 1000 mile range too but I usually never go more than 60 miles a day and I only spend weekends on the hook. I can get water almost anywhere but i am able to pick and choose my fuel stops according to price and fuel quality.

Is a water maker a better idea?
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:47 AM   #10
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Install a water maker and keep the fuel tanks. The only remaining problem is the holding tank size.
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:58 AM   #11
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Advantages of the bigger boat
We have 7000 litres of fuel (1850 gallon) for 3500nm @ 7.5kn.
Have 5000 litres (1320 gallons) capacity of water
Because of that we need no water maker
And need no marina berth.

We see a fuel dock/water fill once a year
Have not been in a marina in 4 years.

Money saved is far more than cost and maintenance of bigger boat.
Only works if you actually use your boat.
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Old 10-26-2020, 07:27 AM   #12
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I think it would be a good move to make those changes.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:55 AM   #13
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Great replies. Thanks for all who contributed so far. I'll try to answer what questions were asked.

Our water storage is about 160 gallons at this time. The size of the tank I would add is yet to be determined, but even 40 gallons would be a 25% improvement, and I'm sure I would add more than that.

Like most of you who have replied, I have rarely (if ever) gone below 1/2 tank on the fuel. We are basically cruising around FL and the SE coast, and may make our way up to the great lakes next summer. Fuel is easy to find, as is water, and I do like filling up when I find a good price, and I would lose a little of that ability if I do this, but not much.

When anchoring, we can go about 2 weeks pretty easily on water right now, with both of us showering daily and being conservative with water. If long term anchoring, water is our limiting factor. Candidly, by that time, we usually want a marina before that anyway. That may lead you to ask "then why go through the trouble of making this change?" or something like that.

One additional reason is that I am considering changing our master head to a fresh water flush toilet. I think that would be a nice improvement over salt water flush. Without adding water storage, I would not make that change. Water is too precious with 160 gallons of storage to go to fresh water flush. While resell is not a huge concern, I do still consider it, and I think another owner of this boat would benefit from the extra water more than they would miss the fuel.

One other benefit from doing this is weight distribution. Everything heavy seems to be on the starboard side of the boat. The dingy is offset that way, and its outboard is also on that side. Refrigerator, batteries, holding tank, etc. are all on starboard side or slightly offset to that side. The result is a very minor (when fully loaded) list to starboard. It's barely noticeable, but I still see the "lightening up" of the starboard stern quarter as an advantage in that regard as well. I realize water weighs more than fuel, but there would be less water so it would be lighter by probably 300 to 400 pounds. Being located on the far starboard stern quarter, it would probably have a positive effect.

I think that answers the questions asked and gives a little more info on why I am considering it. It will be the removal of a 30 year old steel tank if I tackle the project. I do have good access to it, though it might need to be cut up to pull it out. It will be a bit of a project, for sure, so I need to figure out if its worth it.

Thanks again for the thoughts.
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Old 10-26-2020, 09:58 AM   #14
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You can make water with enough fuel, but you can’t make fuel with lots of water....
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:11 AM   #15
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Fresh water is about 8 pound per gallon.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:50 PM   #16
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From Seattle through BC's Inside Passage to Ketchikan Alaska, the furthest fuel jump is 85 miles. I know dick all about Florida and the East Coast but I'm willing to bet the distances between fuel jumps is short.
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Old 10-30-2020, 12:04 PM   #17
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From Seattle through BC's Inside Passage to Ketchikan Alaska, the furthest fuel jump is 85 miles. I know dick all about Florida and the East Coast but I'm willing to bet the distances between fuel jumps is short.
I never thought about it in this way. It seems like there are much longer jumps along this route!

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Old 10-30-2020, 04:48 PM   #18
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Yes, access to fuel has never been a problem where we have cruised. Nor is access to water, but we do run out of water well before we run out of fuel if anchoring for an extended amount of time.

This change to hold more water (at the cost of less fuel by removing that one tank) seems like a good change to me. The reason I started the thread was to see if there would be a lot of people advising to never reduce fuel capacity. So far, I'm not seeing that in the responses and I am pleasantly surprised by that.

One thing I have noticed in the responses is that our fuel to water ratio is very heavily weighted in favor of fuel compared to most of the responses. That further suggests this change (adding water, reducing fuel) is probably a good one to make.

I appreciate all the replies!
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Old 10-30-2020, 05:28 PM   #19
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I don't anchor for as long as you indicated but I'm with you... if you style of cruising would benefit by the change I would say go for it. I agree with your analysis of others ratios.
The clincher for me is if you anchor for long times you burn little or no fuel but do use water. Make it work for you unless you are thinking replacement in the future.
I still don't think fuel capacity remaining is a big negative.
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Old 10-31-2020, 05:55 AM   #20
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A better water capacity has the advantage that you can TASTE the water before bringing on board.

Some dock water tastes like swimming pool drainage .
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