While there are various alternative power sources for boats and yachts in development, for now, the vast majority of boats still run on marine fuel. That means most yacht owners will spend a significant amount of time fueling up at the marina.  Filling your tanks is a fairly routine procedure, however, there are some “dos and don’ts” that boat owners need to be aware of to protect themselves, as well as the environment.

The first thing you need to know is, do you need gasoline or diesel fuel? That may seem an obvious question, but you would be surprised at how many people do serious damage to their boat’s engines, by putting in the wrong type of marine fuel.

Next, make sure you know exactly how much you need; fuel gauges can be inaccurate, and overfilling is one of the primary causes of fuel spills on docks. Another is trying to put fuel into the wrong fill. We have seen water tanks, even fishing rod holders, mistaken as the fuel fill, resulting in spills!

Legal Liability and Marine Fuel Spills

It is very important to understand how to fuel your yacht or tender properly, because fuel spills not only can damage the environment, they can get you in some legal hot water!

Marine fuel, diesel or gasoline, can have many negative impacts if they get into the water. The chemicals and toxins in fuel can destroy sediment, marine plant and animal life, shore birds and other tidal wild life. As a boat owner, you are responsible, and can be held legally liable, for any environmental damage caused by a fuel or oil spill from your vessel. Doing all you can to prevent such accidents protects both you, and the environment!

According to the Oil Pollution Act and the Clean Water Act, it is illegal to discharge any amount of fuel, oil, or other petroleum product, into the waters of the United States. That means doing so, intentionally, or not, is a violation of federal law.


According to the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water, under the regulations, any oil or fuel spill that leaves a “detectable sheen” on the water must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center by calling 1-800-424-8802. In the case of a spill, many states require you to also contact their State’s Department of Environmental Protection, and/or Fish and Game, so make sure you know what agency to contact in your state.

If you do cause a spill, you may get yourself into “deeper water,” if you try to clean it up yourself. It is a violation of state and federal laws to use detergents, soaps, emulsifying agents or other chemicals to try to break down a spill. Many of these products, instead of properly cleaning the spill, actually cause it to sink, which has an even greater negative impact by contaminating the sediment and sea bed below.

Any boater who deliberately applies such agents to disperse or hide a sheen is subject to criminal penalties and high fines.

How to Avoid Accidental Fuel Spills

Chances are, if you are using the fuel services of a marina, their people will be well versed in how to fuel your yacht properly to avoid spills. However, here are some general tips to avoid fuel and oil spills.

  • Make sure to keep your engines well-maintained.
  • Periodically inspect fuel lines, hoses, seals, and connections for leaks or broken parts.
  • Fill your fuel tanks just before leaving on a trip to reduce spillage due to thermal expansion and rocking.
  • When fueling, go slowly at the start and end of fueling.
  • Stay with your craft during fueling.
  • Fill your engine or gas tank carefully! Know your tank’s capacity and don’t overfill it.
  • Leave room in your tank for fuel expansion, especially in warm weather.
  • Never transfer fuel from tank to tank while on the water. Make sure your reserve tank can connect directly to your engine.
  • Keep an oil absorbent pad or drip tray under your engine to catch stray drops or leaks.


And remember, if you spill any oil or marine fuel that leaves a sheen on the water, you MUST report it to the proper authorities.


Fuel Services at Our Marina

As a fuel supplier, we are now selling fuel to our customers, as well as any boats in the marina. When you fill up with us you can be sure you are getting only top quality diesel, or authentic Rec 90 gasoline specified for marine engines, and of course, every effort is made to handle the fuel properly and protect the environment.

Our fuel prices are significantly lower than any other marina in the area and we offer even greater savings with preferred fuel prices to yachts that sign up for our On Demand Management Services, or our Charter Income Program.

We will even deliver fuel — diesel or gasoline — right to your boat, no matter where she is docked!

Never Run on Empty!

Having a cost effective and convenient way to refuel your yacht, is only one way that we keep your motor yacht all “gassed up” and ready to go. Our On Demand yachting solution is designed to take all of the hassles out of luxury yacht ownership. From fuel, to crew, to routine maintenance, our On Demand clients are never left feeling like they are running on empty!



Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.