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Since having multiple engine issues which we think might have been caused by some bad fuel, we have been being very careful with how we handle our gasoline. Although it is much less convenient, we have been trying really hard to not pump fuel directly into our tanks. Instead, we fill the multiple jerry cans that we carry and then when needed, we filter the fuel into our boat’s main tank. The filter we use is one that we picked up from West Marine. We have heard many good things about Baja Filters which cost quite a bit more money but I read a review of them and the West Marine filter actually came out on top.

One challenge that we had is how to easily transfer the fuel from the jerry cans into the (filter) tank. We had heard of a device called a Super Syphon which is essentially a hose with a ball in a fitting at the end but in spite of multiple efforts, we were not able to get it to work*. We picked up another cheap syphon from a hardware store and it did work. Ultimately though we found a device called the Flo n’ Go which really does the trick. It screws into the top of the jerry can just like the normal spout and operates similar to the nozzle on a gas tank. It costs a bit more (approx. 30 bucks) but we now have much less fuel spillage to contend with.

A comparison of the various syphons we have spent money on.

A bit more money but this one works perfectly.

*There is a post on SV Estrellita’s blog about the Super Syphons and they commented that they really like them. I think we actually ended up with either a bad one or a cheap clone.

30 Comments

  1. Cool! We have one of those and it has worked great! Warm weather – you are so lucky. Very cool at night in N.C. but the days are still a little warmer. How was Cumberland Island?

  2. Thanks for sharing what you learned. It’s great to know what to avoid and be able to make the right purchase the first time.

  3. We fuel our monohull often from jerry cans, and carry 4-6 extra “cans” for extended range. When passagemaking we sometimes need to transfer while underway. This, was at best, a huge mess.

    We “solved” the problem, by mounting a fuel transfer pump in storage locker. Cost under $40 at an auto parts store. It is mounted with a switch, a fuse and a filter. We plumb 2 large hoses from it (both about 10ft). Long enough to reach the fuel filler for the boat and the jerry cans (at least most of them).

    Filling is a “simple” process … put one hose in the fuel filler, the other in the can … turn on… it “cleans” the fuel before putting it in and makes no mess. The pump takes 7-8 mins to do 5 gal.

    We’re diesel, so not too worried about an ignition source, although the pump and switch are the protected kind. If you are using gas, I’d make sure that the locker can be ventilated (ours has a blower, as it stores some dinghy fuel).

    This little setup has made for clean and lazy fuel transfers. We’ve even used it to pull fuel from a local who brought out a 50gal drum in his boat, while in the DR.

  4. I still don’t know why a sailboat needs gas? Mike. why don’t you drain your fuel tanks dry and fill up 1/4 of the way and see how she performs…….You could also have moisture/water….By cleaning tank out and cleaning, you might see this corrects many possible problems………you are wasting money on filters, etc. at this point……..I’ll bet you a beer this will solve your problem…

    • Our engine woes are (at the moment) gone. I think we may have had an air leak which has since been rectified. Draining the tanks dry might not be a bad idea either though.

      • Save your time (I have refinery experince on this one). Either the water would have dropped the ethanol by now in a major way, or the ethanol absorbed the water and dried the tank. Since you are motoring nearly every day, the fuel is dry.

        A 1/4 tank is VERY RISKY with ethanol fuel. You will absorb a lot more water through breathing that way. Full tanks, always.

        By the way, I have had Raycor separating filters on my boat for 2 years now and have not seen one drop of free water. I don’t think the PDQ 32 tanks are at all prone to separation, because of where they are fitted. My last boat was bad that way (sun hit the tank) and the dingy tanks are often a problem (small and in the sun).

        Larger tanks, used frequently, have very few troubles. Cars run fine. Diesel is diffent, and most ofthis is related to the tendency of deisel to grow bugs if there is ANY water present. The bugs are small and will go through any filter, contaminating any untreated fuel suppluy. Gasoline does not do this.

        I’m sorry to be negative, but I see little evidence that gasoiline comes wet (it gets the water from the air) or dirty (I have not plugged a fuel filter with dirt in 25 years, and one of the filters was not changed for 12 years! I never changed a filter on a car) from the pump. I am honestly far more conserned about the safety of these additional and unneccesary fuel transfers. I have seen some very bad accidents resulting from casual transfers of small amounts of flamable liquids. Be careful.

    • I’ve found that some marinas offer ethanol free gas (at least 2 around Ponce Inlet, FL do). You can also find it at some pumps … they call it “recreational” gas. You pay a little premium for it.

  5. Even though our engines have 2 filters(we use diesel) we’ve thought about getting one of these. Thanks for doing the research for us!
    Off the subject here but I have a question for you. We’ve been told we need to register our boat with the US Coast Guard but Hans is a Canadian Citizen (just like you, eh!)and therefor can’t (even though he has a green card and purchased the boat in the US). Did you have to register your boat in Canada? We’re plowing our way through a ton of online sites and not getting very far.

    • I think many Canadians who purchase boats in the US still have them registered in Canada. For the record, a bit of confusion often comes from the following:

      Canadian LICENSING = American REGISTRATION
      Canadian REGISTRATION = American DOCUMENTATION

      Only the latter shows Title (ownership). It is a more involved process but was recommended to us as we are planning on leaving the US and Canada.

      This may not answer your question. Feel free to ask for more info if it doesn’t and I, or someone else here, can try to help.

  6. Since we were heading to Baja I researched the filters as well. I read the same article and bought the West Marine filter as well. Besides costly less they weigh a lot less also. The problem with fuel in the US is the ethanol. Since we have our boat in Mexico that has not been a problem but dirty or wet fuel can still be an issue. The siphon looks like a nice device. Safe sailing!

  7. You are getting really brown! You look like a Floridian, not a Canadian! BTW, when you get to Ft. Lauderdale, check out the Floridian restaurant. Good place, good service, good food.

  8. Mike,
    I have one of the siphons like the one you refer to as a SuperSyphon. I can’t remember if it is the same brand name. From looking at your pictures, it looks like you only have part of the brass fitting, at least compared to the one we have. Ours is still in the package as we have not been able to “shove off” yet. 🙁
    I could email a photo to you but it sounds as if you have made other arrangements anyway.
    Glad to hear you made it to reliably warm weather.
    ROTFL that Crocs is now a regular advertiser on your homepage!

  9. When you’re looking for something to make a posting about, give some more info on the engine issues you’re having. There are some trawler people out here who have a fair amount of engine experience and can probably give some advice.

    A couple of things I’d want to know:

    – What make/model engines?

    – What has been the problem?

    – Do you have the ability to bleed the fuel tanks from the bottom?

    – What type of filters do you have between the fuel tanks and the engine? And if you have a Racor filter, does it have a vacuum gauge?

    – What maintenance items have you done (or had done) on the engines in the last year – date and what was done?

    • Hi Jeff

      Knock on wood, our problems appear to be gone. That might make a good post though. Thanks for the suggestion.

    • BTW, bottom bleed valves on gasoline tanks are prohibited by the code, as are gravity feed tanks on installed tanks (not dingy engines). Anti-syphon valves are required.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the extra suction generated by the anit-syphon valves on your fuel tank made your air leak problems worse. Also, some people have had trouble with these valves sticking, causing fuel starvation.

  10. What a great thing that pump is!! That would make a great Christmas present for any boater.

    Can I just say how much I really love reading this blog. I look forward to it every day.

    If I can’t be out on the water myself – I can at the very least live it vicariously through you.

    THANK YOU!!!!!

  11. Hey – we are among those who liked the superpump, as we know it here in Europe, so sorry it didn’t work for you! We’ve always found them great even if (as on Estralita’s blog) you must remember to shake up and down and not side to side. But good you found a solution.

  12. Nothing worse than a siphon that doesn’t work and makes more of a mess than just pouring! Glad you found a working solution.

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