by Ken Kreisler
Oil is the result of decaying matter of once-living organisms compacted over untold tens of millions of years. As layer upon layer of sediment settled one on top of the other, the increasing pressure and the ensuing rising temperatures produced a chemical change whereby the remains—way too complex to discuss here—were transformed into the raw material that would eventually lead to petroleum. Most boat owners are savvy enough to chart their necessary fuel-ups with plenty of reserve built in. But if you enjoy covering long distances and do not have the proper tankage—or do not trust the quality of the fuel in a certain port of call—you might consider carrying bladder tanks to store your extra fuel.
“Not all fuel bladders are created equal,” says David Dack, VP of sales for Aero Tec Laboratories (ATL), a company specializing in flexible containment technology. “First off, always look for the best quality possible. Money should be no object with this equipment. The one thing you do not want to deal with when carrying volatile diesel fuel or gasoline is an inferior product.” ATL manufacturers bladders constructed from rugged, military-spec, rubberized fabric equipped with such built-in safety features as pressure relief and anti-backflow valves. “The former prevents any pressure build-up as the fuel expands, for example, with the bladder sitting in the sun in the cockpit. The latter prevents any back-spill while taking on fuel.” Ease of use is a primary concern as well. Make sure you position the tank(s) so the weight is evenly distributed as not to throw your boat off. “The bladder must be firmly fastened to the deck with a tie-down kit that is secured over the stand pipe and then ratcheted down. We suggest using a cargo net as an added security measure in case of rough seas,” Dack recommends. “Bladders are most stable when completely full and can be easily rolled up or folded and tucked away within a vented compartment.”