Table of Contents

Download the PDF Version

Boating Basics

Fueling a Vessel


Never fuel at night unless it is an emergency. If you must refuel after dark, use only electric lights. Try to refuel away from the water or on a commercial fueling ramp.

Before beginning to fuel:

  • Dock the boat securely and ask all passengers to exit.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke or strike a match.
  • Check all fuel lines, connections, and fuel vents.
  • Turn off anything that might cause a spark—engines, fans, or electrical equipment.
  • Shut off all fuel valves and extinguish all open flames, such as galley stoves and pilot lights.
  • Close all windows, ports, doors, and other openings to prevent fumes from entering the boat.
  • Remove portable fuel tanks and fill them on the dock.

While filling the fuel tank:

  • Keep the nozzle of the fuel-pump hose in contact with the tank opening to prevent producing a static spark.
  • Avoid spilling fuel into the boat’s bilge or the water.
  • Never fill a tank to the brim—leave room to expand.
  • Wipe up any spilled fuel.

After fueling:

  • Open all windows, ports, doors, and other openings.
  • Before starting the engine, sniff the bilge and the engine compartment for fuel vapors.

Each pump or other dispensing device used to provide motor fuel for motorboats shall be equipped with an automatic shut-off nozzle that shall not be capable of being locked into an open position. Any violation of this shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $500.

The most important safe fueling practice…

If your vessel is equipped with a power ventilation system, turn it on for at least four minutes after fueling and before starting your engine to remove gas vapors in the bilge.

Additional Safety Procedures for PWC

  • Do not tip the PWC in order to fill it all the way up. If the tank is overfilled, the fuel may expand and spill into the water.
  • After fueling, open the door of the engine compartment and sniff to check for any evidence of gas fumes. Do this before starting the engine. If you do smell gas fumes, determine the source and make repairs immediately.
After fueling, sniff the engine compartment for any evidence of gas fumes.
After fueling, sniff the engine compartment for any evidence of gas fumes.