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Thread: How important is fuel capacity?

  1. #1

    Default How important is fuel capacity?

    I've been a costal cruiser for a little while. Last year on my C&C 30 (16hp), used less than 20 gallons for a year. However, as a youtube person living my life through other peoples world travels, I noted some people seem to have to fill up often and inconveniently due to small capacities.
    A couple years ago looking at catamarans, I decided to make a cut off point to not look at catamarans with fuel tanks under 150 US gallons (550 liters).
    Is this excessive? How much does one really need? This would be a catamaran for circumnavigation and living aboard for 10+ years. It will have a generator and cloths washer to keep my wife happy. A/C use is undetermined and will vary based on guess a few times a year.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    currently Columbia/Panama

    Default Re: How important is fuel capacity?

    150 gallons of fuel is 700-900nm motoring range depending on specific boat, engines and conditions.

    Otherwise, it is dependent on how and where you plan to cruise. In the tradewinds Eastern Caribe, you won't use much fuel and fuel is available everywhere. In more remote areas, fuel stops are fewer and far between. Across the Pacific, you may want a lot of fuel, and having decks full of jugs isn't as good an option. And a usual circumnavigation is mostly downwind.

    Personally, I think a 500nm range is a good compromise - keep less fuel when it is readily available to save weight, but have that 500nm available when needed for either longer ranges, or longer periods of time between fuel stops. 500nm might mean 80gal on a fast, light boat, or 150gal on a slow, heavy boat.

    For sure, the better the boat sails in light air and upwind, the less fuel will be needed.

    Mark Cole
    Manta 40 "Reach"

  3. #3

    Default Re: How important is fuel capacity?

    Heavy boat more fuel, more fuel heavier boat still, so even more fuel, it is a vicious circle.

    Cats that don't go to windward or are heavy use more fuel. Any cat heavy, light, big or small will sail downwind no fuel required, often no sails required either.

    We have sailed full time blue water for 15 years, and owned the boat for nearly 20. We have 2 x 30hp diesel engines and carry 200 litres (52 USgals) we do approx 5 knots on 1 engine using between 1.86 to 2.1 litres per hour (bio diesel vs mineral diesel). So on average 100 hours at 5 knots = 500 Nm. We also carry 2 x 20 litres jugs in case of bad fuel and we have to rig a direct feed to the engines.

    So it depends on the cat in question but generally multi's use much less fuel than mono's.

    Excessively large fuel tanks would indicate that the cat does not sail well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Stockholm, Sweden

    Default Re: How important is fuel capacity?

    I'm in the same situation regarding amount of fuel.
    42" KHSD catamarn with two Yamaha 25 hk outboard engines.
    Fuel capacity 260 liters + 4 jerry cans(20 liters stored in deck lockers) so in total 340 liters.
    When running both 4000 rpm 11-12 kn and fuel consumption about 10 liters per hour in calm sea no head wind.
    Since sea stat and headwind will change how far you will get my question is say 34 hours running time on both engines to short or 68 hours on one engine.
    The cat goes good windward(daggerboards), it's light 8000 kg fully packed. No bridge deck building. (you can see it on FB search for S/Y Aset)
    But the admiral wants more fuel and I don't want to put any jerry cans on deck.

    Whats you verdict?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Worcester, U.K., Moraira, Spain

    Default Re: How important is fuel capacity?

    You've got enough fuel capacity to meet any realistic requirement. Most I ever motored was around 60 hours at the end of a Pacific crossing and that was just because I decided to get there. Could have sailed the distance in about 4 days even in my cat which was around twice as heavy as yours. You'd probably have been sailing at 4-5 knots in the conditions I had.

    Just carry a few more jerry cans to keep your wife happy. Once she realises you don't need them you can sell them on

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