Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dethanol for Cruisers

bad gasoline
Nasty stuff drained from our carburetor.
Aka - Sad Tale of a Water-Clogged Carburetor.

My husband once ended a relationship in part because his girlfriend didn’t recycle.  There was a limit to too laissez faire.

Yet I drove him a bit batty when I went perhaps a bit overboard spending time finding homes for my “stuff” other than the dumpster when we radically downsized from a 1500 square foot apartment with a 1.5 car garage to a boat with maybe 250 square feet of living space.  For us, despite the challenges, there is a strong philosophical appeal to our minimalist environmental footprint, living aboard.  Bottom line:  We are avowed environmentalists in many reduce-reuse-recycle ways.
maintenance and repair in boot key harbor workshop
Wayne mounts our dinghy outboard motor
in Boot Key Harbor Marina workshop.

What does that have to do with “dethanol for cruisers”?

Ethanol is purportedly good for the environment because it’s locally produced fuel, its corn or soy origins supporting the domestic farming community than extracting from a limited petroleum supply.  We won’t enter the debate here whether or not ethanol is better for the environment….

Ethanol is what’s most readily available for gasoline.  It’s generally what we pick up at the local gas station pump. It’s also typically a $1+ cheaper than the gas from a marina, and we’re cheap.

cruising life fixing dinghy outboard motor
Ron Claus and Wayne determine what to do next.
We’re learning, however, the hard way, that buying ethanol for our outboard is seriously penny-wise but pound-foolish.  Ultimately, ethanol’s tendency towards absorbing water from the atmosphere is worthless in our dinghy outboard.  Eventually, our motor just won’t run. 

Once again our friend Ron from Ursa Minor came to our rescue. He brought a Baja filter, which allowed Wayne to determine the $7 worth of gas we had in our portable jug was better recycled rather than reused by our motor.  Ron then graciously towed us to Boot Key Marina’s handy workshop where he and Wayne mounted our outboard engine, pulled out out the carburetor and filter and drained all the water and unclogged it.  Left it its own devices, the carburetor replacement would’ve ultimately become a $250+ repair.
device for filtering water from bad gasoline
Baja filter for separating
gas from other stuff.

cruising life boat maintenance and repair tool for dinghy outboard
Other side of Baja filter -- a now
indispensable tool for our dinghy outboard.

The local Home Depot unwittingly offered a free preventative fix for future gas tank water penetration….  The transport cap for plumbing pipes fit our gas can nozzle spout perfectly.

tool for preventing bad gas for our dinghy outboard
Thank you Home Depot for this complimentary red gas nozzle cap
to prevent water from getting into our gas can in the future.
In the future, our outboard motor will stick to an ethanol-free diet, to heck with the extra cost.  When we have no choice, that’s when our new Baja filter will save the day, weaning out the life-sucking water from our outboard gas prior to its ingestion.

Meanwhile, our sad tale of a water-clogged carburetor has a happy ending.  Whew!  Thanks, Ron. Vrooom, vroom and away we go!


  1. ...AND we use Starbright Startron diesel and gasoline additive in everything. Their sales literature is new-age sounding crazy stuff, but for sure the diesel additive works wonders, and I think the gas additive is pretty good with water and alcohol.

    And blogger won't let me post as "SV Bright Water."

    All the best:

    FWIW: Gasohol is bad for the environment, too. If the 1st presidential primary was anywhere but Iowa it would have gone away a long, long time ago.

  2. Indeed, ethanol-laced gasoline is bad for the environment. It takes more than one gallon of diesel to plow the field, plant the corn, make the fertilizer, harvest the corn, dry the corn, ferment the corn mash and distill the corn mash to make a single gallon of ethanol. And it is "burning food" - devoting souch of our food growing capacity to the ethanol farce has raised the price of all food that depends on corn or could be grown where corn is. For the final bit of travesty, it is taxpayer subsidized.