Refuelling without error is crucial. All boats were fitted with 13 litre Mercury remote fuel tanks, modified to make the 400 mm fuel line removable thus making the tank fully portable and fuel fittings easier to keep clean.
The tanks were positioned hard against the transom in the centre and raised approximately 150 mm from the bottom of the boat. Twelve tanks were used. One litre containers of fuel were carried in each boat for emergency use.
The Support Crew filled four jerry cans at local service stations and mixed Quicksilver Formula 50-D outboard oil at the standard ratio of 50:1. This fuel mix was then decanted into six tanks.
Other brands of outboard oil were used when supplies of Quicksilver oil were exhausted – with a noticeable decrease in performance.
From the second day a procedure was adopted that was maintained throughout the expedition. Radio contact would be made with the boats and refuelling arrangements decided. The boats would then proceed to the designated fuel stop.
Tanks were disconnected prior to reaching the bank. The used tank was exchanged for a full tank which was then connected before the motor stopped from a lack of fuel. Where possible this operation was performed without stopping the boats. Using this system the time taken to refuel the six boats was reduced to 90 seconds.
Depending on the particular situation the six full tanks would be spaced along the bank allowing access for all boats at the one time. On occasions only two boats could be refuelled at one time. The Nav Boat would be advised of this, by radio, prior to the RV and the boats would be directed accordingly.
The boats were refuelled at each lock regardless of requirement.
Fuel stops were planned the previous night with a 10% safety margin. Often these were amended enroute by radio to allow the full range of the tanks to be exploited, thus enabling one fuel stop to be completely deleted in a particular day.
© Kim Epton 1981-2022
439 words, 5 photographs
Text and layout Kim Epton
Photographs by David Whitney, Tony Poole, Vic Watt, Roly Ritson
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