Can You Carry Gas Cans on a Boat?

There’s nothing like a day on the water. Racing around the glistening blue waters and cutting wakes into the glassy water behind you… It’s an incredible feeling.

But then you realize, you are close to running out of gas. A few questions might be going through your head.

Can I make it back to the dock?

What happens if my boat runs out of gas?

Do I have enough fuel in my reserve tank to find a boat fueling station?

Do I even have cell reception to call emergency services?

Could I have brought spare gas cans with me? Was it even safe to do so?

No one wants to be stuck in the middle of the lake or down the river without fuel. It can be scary to wonder if you’ll make it back to the dock without running dry.

While most boats have a tank that stores ample fuel to get through a day on the water, sometimes things happen and it’s good to be prepared. If you’re visiting areas out of the way or spending multiple days on the water, the need for extra fuel storage is especially important. It is possible to carry gas on a boat. However, you must do it safely.

Containers for Carrying Fuel

It’s perfectly legal to carry gas in a portable tank on board your boat. Here are some ways boaters can safely transport additional fuel on their boat:

Jerry Cans

Jerry cans or jerry jugs are a common container for carrying fuel on a boat. Modern jerry jugs are made to present fuel spills.

USGC Portable Tanks

Not very many people spend as much time on the water as the US Coast Guard. A USGC approved tank for boats will be stable in rough waters and is less likely to leak or cause a fire on your vessel.

Portable/Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

These are larger and allow you to store even more fuel. These portable/auxiliary fuel tanks can be attached directly to your boat’s fuel system – instead of pouring fuel into the boat’s tank using a funnel. As you decide to store more fuel on your boat, the weight of your boat will change. Fuel consumption is proportional to the boat’s weight, and adding extra weight to your boat will offset your boat’s current consumption.

Precautions for Storing Gas

Fuel is especially flammable. While safe to carry fuel aboard your boat, there are some precautions to keep in mind:

  1. Only use a gas can meant for storing gas. Don’t use just any plastic container.
  2. 6-gallon gas cans are a good size to start with. They’re easy to move but won’t change the weight of your boat.
  3. Use the proper colored gas can. Red containers are for gasoline and yellow is for diesel.
  4. Do not place the gas can in a non-ventilated space.
  5. Secure the gas in case of rough waters.
  6. Make sure that if it does spill, the fumes or leaked fuel won’t drip into the bilge.

Fuel Burn

Needing spare fuel can seem inevitable for long trips or while boating to remote locations. And while accidents like running out of gas happen, they can happen a lot less with proper planning and calculating your fuel burn. Your fuel burn, also known as fuel consumption, is a measure of how much fuel your boat burns per nautical mile. This is important because you’ll know the distance your boat can travel without running out of fuel.

Calculating fuel burn is not as easy as calculating the fuel economy of your truck or car. Boating Magazine put together a great guide for calculating your boat’s fuel consumption.

Some final tips

  1. Bring a funnel. All your preparedness in bringing additional fuel means nothing if you can’t pour it into your gas tank.
  2. Have a plan if you run out of fuel. One of our previous blog posts, What to do if your Boat Runs Out of Gas, covers things you can do if running out of fuel happens to you.

Hagadone Marine Group

Hagadone Marine Group is the largest on-the-water dealership in Coeur d’Alene. From rentals to sales, classic wood boats to gleaming new wakeboard craft, from the smallest service detail to a major rebuild, Hagadone Marine Group handles it all. Want to chat with us about safely storing extra fuel on your boat? Call us at (208) 664-8274.