Having admired, raced and cruised my friend Klaus’ yacht a number of times (inc a stormy North Sea crossing) I always felt, as he did, that it floated fractionally down by the stern and not to the scribed waterline. As Jenny and my project was to the same design but ‘home fitted out’, we wanted to try and improve the trim. So after speaking to the designer it was decided to fit new smaller fuel tanks amidships to help lift the stern; they would have sufficient capacity for most of the motoring I was likely to do however, for say a long delivery trip, the factory fitted tank capable of holding 140 odd litres of fuel (installed just forward of the rudder post) would be utilised. New tanks were manufactured & installed which are filled by a separate deck filler and all the relevant plumbing was completed including a change-over valve. A week before we launched Hindsight we fired the engine up using fuel from the new tank, success! It ran perfectly, we then added fuel to the factory installed tank, switched over the fuel supply, the engine ran for about twenty seconds and then stopped. Fuel starvation? No it was showing water in the main tank primary filter. We cleaned it out, bled ‘fuel' through and discovered it was not diesel we were pulling but water! Conclusion: water in the tank but how much? My next thought was how long had it been sitting there? As there was no tank drain fitted and no way to access the tank, dare I risk sucking the contents out and hoping that we would never have an issue with the remaining dregs or the dreaded diesel bug, or should I bite the bullet and somehow gain access to the tank which would mean major surgery to the cockpit sole? Well, after a month of deliberation, we decided better safe than sorry so we cut a hole in the cockpit capable of taking a low profile Lewmar hatch. This exposed the tank and, having found ‘signs’ that there was baffle fitted running athwartships, we then cut two circular holes in the tank. Peering inside it looked as though there was an awful lot of contaminated fuel. I had thought of initially using a battery operated Handy pump but when I saw how much liquid needed removing I went for a Whale High Flow Submersible 12v DC pump. I removed over 40 litres!
However methinks I would have been better with a Rule Portable pump which can run continuously without any damage. The source of all the water? Maybe the filler cap had never been screwed down tight enough when the hull, deck and fuel tank assembly left the factory six years ago and of course I should have checked it was on tight or was it a faulty filler cap seal?Now the tank is empty I am going to use a high pressure water pump on the screwed down cap and see what happens. Will I see a pool of water appearing in the bottom of the tank or was it operator error in the first instance?