Gasoline at Marinas

Gasoline at Marinas

by Conrad & Judy Kreuter

Q: Dear Boat Talk: I just rented a slip for the summer and the marina won’t allow me to bring in my own gasoline. How come? EM, East Rockaway NY.

A: Dear EM: There are many reasons why your marina will not permit you to bring gasoline in containers onto their premises. Leading the list are the very tough federal and local regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have enacted federal regulations (OPA 90, 4202: CZARA, P 5-55,D; CZARA, P 5-41,F; CZARA, P 5-53,C) that direct you, the boater, not to let oil or fuel get into our waters. And if it happens, you will be fined. You must report the spill and be ready to clean it up promptly and completely. If you don’t report the spill or clean it up, you could face additional fines and damage assessments totaling $20,000.00 or more.

Most local fire ordinances also have stringent regulations on the transportation of gasoline.

Pouring gasoline from containers into the boat can and often will permit gas to be spilled into the water. Owners of boats observed “causing a film or sheen upon, or discoloration of the surface of the water, will be subject to a penalty of not less than $5,000.00”. (40 CFR 110.1.11)

The potential hazards of transported gasoline spilling on marina property contaminates not only the land but also could set other boats in the marina on fire by careless splashing or by the wind carrying fumes to an open ignition source which may be present.

While it is true that gas prices are soaring, many boat owners may feel that they can save money by bringing in their own gasoline as marina prices are always higher than the street price. Marina prices tend to be higher for a few reasons.

Many marinas only pump one grade of gasoline due to limited storage facilities. Often they will select the highest grade of gasoline, 93 octane. This grade is preferred by major outboard manufacturers to prevent the build up of carbon on the piston rings in their two stroke engines. The higher octane rating provides more detergent properties than the lower octane ratings. It also has a higher price tag as well.

Because of the marina’s proximity to the water, only smaller fuel storage tanks are permitted. Marinas do not buy in volume like the gasoline stations on the street that have multiple large capacity fuel tanks. Thus the cost of gasoline the marinas buy is similar to the street prices the consumer pays. Pumping gasoline at a marina is customer courtesy rather than a moneymaking opportunity.

Some practices to follow save on gas consumption as well as protecting the environment. Here are a few:

  • When fueling, try not to top off your tanks. Overflow fuel from the gas vent can amount to a considerable quantity. The summer’s heat can also expand the volume of gasoline in the tank causing it to overflow. Shut off the pump nozzle before the tank reaches full capacity.
  • Purchase and use and overflow container. These devices use a suction cup to attach over the fuel tank vent to catch gas coming from the vent.
  • For I/O’s and inboards place an oil absorbent device under the engine. These are available in many forms, flat sheets, rolled and netted.
  • Change your bilge pump switch to a design that distinguishes between petroleum products and water. These will only pump water overboard, not oil or gas. They cost about the same as a typical float switch.