Fueling your boat might not be as simple as refuelling your car or bike. There are certain precautions and fundamentals about refuelling that you should understand before you even start boating. Let’s explore some fundamentals of refuelling your boat safely in South Africa and follow certain precautions to stay safe.

Refuelling your Boat in South Africa – The Fundamentals

Generally, there are two ways to refuel your boat. Either refuel your boat at a gas station in a marina or carry fuel in portable gas tanks (jerry cans) and then refuel your boat. It’s that simple. However, there is a catch.

While we are sounding like it’s that easy, the catch is that boats run on specific types of fuels. In other words, you cannot just use any fuel or regular fuel you use for cars and bikes for boats. Unless it is a diesel engine. Diesel engines are okay with being fed regular diesel.

As for using gasoline or petrol for boating, experts in the industry highly recommend using ethanol-free gasoline. It prolongs the engine’s life, ensuring that there’s no harmful residue or moisture buildup in your engine or the fuel tank. But more importantly, it keeps waters and ecosystems safer. As ethanol can mix in the water and harms the ecosystems, it is better to be a responsible boater and use ethanol-free fuel.

Alternatively, you can also use low-grade ethanol fuel, up to a 10% content ratio to petrol/gasoline.

Precautions while refuelling your boat

When you are refuelling your boat at a marina, you should follow these fundamental precautions all the time.

Before you start refuelling

  1. Make sure your boat is secured or ‘docked’ properly to the marine prior to refuelling your boat.
  2. Keep a fire extinguisher handy all the time. If something goes wrong, this will help you react quickly before the situation turns into an uncontrollable disaster.
  3. Make sure all the enclosed spaces such as storage compartments or enclosed cabins are closed shut. Fuel is heavier than air and it does evaporate. You do not want to take chances of fuel settling down and trapped in such compartments. This is a recipe for a potential disaster.
  4. Turn off your engine. Before the fuelling process begins, everyone except the boat driver or ‘skipper’ should leave the boat first.
  5. Extinguish all open flame sources such as stoves, cigarettes, or any other fire sources. Also, turn off the electricity.
  6. If you have portable fuel tanks (jerry cans), move them away from the boat as an extra precaution.

During refuelling

  1. While refuelling, keep the edge of the nozzle in contact to prevent the buildup of static electricity. Even a spark can turn a shiny Monday morning into a disaster within seconds.
  2. Do not overfill the tank as fuel expands with heat. Fill about 85-95% of your tank’s capacity only.

After refuelling

  1. Secure the tank caps by shutting them tightly after the tank has been filled.
  2. If there are any fuel spills, wipe them thoroughly and clear the surfaces.
  3. Once done refuelling, you should turn on your bilge blower prior to starting the engine. Let it run for up to 5 minutes.


  1. Make sure you do not smell any gasoline/petrol before starting the engine. If you have other people on the boat, you can even ask for confirmation from them. It is always important to be clear about such things before you start the boat.

Bottom Line

Refuelling is a responsible task that should be done responsibly. Your life, the life of others around the marina, and the local water ecosystems are important. Be a responsible boater, use ethanol-free fuel, and follow the precautions before, during, and after refuelling your boat in South Africa.

One thing we would want to mention is that if you do not use your boat as frequently, it is not a good idea to let the fuel sit in your boat for a prolonged duration. Sitting fuel can cause moisture to build in your fuel tank, which could cause corrosion and damage to fuel channels.

Looking for some boating adventures in South Africa? Get your skipper’s ticket today. Contact us for more information.

Refuelling your Boat in South Africa | Fundamental Precautions