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Digital Subscriptions > Cottage Life > May 2017 > Hey, boaters!

Hey, boaters!

It’s time to say goodbye to dead batteries, bad gas, and missing gear. The top boating mistakes and how to stop making them

Start the year with fresh gas

We asked marine mechanics, police, and boat maintenance experts for your dirty secrets. Here’s the lowdown on all your boating sins, and how to mend your ways.

You let bad gas gunk up your engine

Fuel is way more of a headache in boats than in cars. Boats often sit unused for long periods, and even when they are used, a small, efficient four-stroke can take weeks to consume a few litres of gasoline. When gas sits around in a tank, problems brew.

First, gasoline exposed to air in the fuel tank oxidizes, forming a gummy solid, which sticks to metal all through the fuel system, including the carburetor and the injector. “This plugs up the fuel systems and won’t allow the gas to flow through properly,” says Blair Anderson, a managing partner at Alberta Marine in Nanton, Alta.

The second thing to know is that using gas that contains ethanol is hard on engines, in two ways. Anderson says he sees the effects of ethanol in the deterioration of rubber components, such as fuel lines, gaskets, and carburetor floats. “It’s mostly a problem with non-fuelinjected engines, like older outboards and inboard-outboards.” The other issue is phase separation, which can occur when gasoline with ethanol sits unused in a tank. Ethanol attracts water (from the humid air in a less-than-full tank), and both settle into separate layers at the bottom of the tank.

Shape up Advice is pretty much unanimous among marine professionals: add fuel stabilizer/conditioner with every fill all season long, not just in the winter months during storage, to avoid fuel degradation problems. And avoid ethanol by using the highest-octane gas you can find. In most provinces, higher-octane fuels, such as premium-grade 91 octane in Ontario and 94 octane in B.C., are free of ethanol. (In Alberta, Anderson says finding ethanol-free gas at the pump is “pretty much impossible right now.”) To minimize oxidization and absorption of moisture, don’t leave fuel sitting around in a tank for more than a few months, especially one that’s only partially filled (large tanks can be left a bit longer; try to use fuel in small portable containers within a month). Ideally, you want to keep the tank really full or really empty. Grant Jowitt, the service manager at Buckeye Marine in Bobcaygeon, Ont., recommends that at the end of the season you use leftover unmixed fuel in another machine, such as a tractor or a lawn mower, and start the next boating season with fresh gas.

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About Cottage Life

Time to fire up the grill! Cottage Life presents The Ultimate Cottage BBQ Guide, featuring answers to all your burning questions and recipes and pro tips from 7 of Canada’s top grill masters (including one burger that’s pure insanity). This issue is chock full of everything you need to get ready for the season: you’ll find a deep dive into the growth of vacation rentals—and how cottage country is responding; building and renovation secrets from one of cottage country’s most loved go-to guys; and 9 boating mistakes to stop making this summer (dead batteries and bad gas, we’re looking at you). PLUS, a propane tank storage project, tips and products for the workshop, and a peek into a 150-year-old barn that gets a new life as a bunkie.