Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

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mike cunningham
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Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by mike cunningham »

I have owned my boat for 21 years and I ran her out of fuel for the first time last night. It was so unexpected I could not believe what I was seeing on the fuel gauge which is on top of the tank in the aft cabin.

I had checked, thought I checked obviously, the fuel level before I departed on a 40 mile RT motoring session. I saw 3/4 tank so no problem... I managed about 35 miles.

Anyway, I wound up replacing the primary fuel filter and investigating a potential fuel line blockage before I finally got onto what was happening.

Turns out, wait for it, I did not pump enough to get the system bled...and I pumped a LOT!!

So, if you happen to run your boat out of diesel fuel, get your finger warmed up because you are going to spend an incredible amount of time pumping that little lever on the fuel pump to refill the system. I think I must have counted at least six hundred strokes. When I finally got some fuel out of the bleed screw it was a hallelujah moment I'll tell you. I was just about to give up when I saw a little spurt of bubbling diesel.

Turns out I ran out of fuel on the way up "Old River" on the Cal Delta. I had a bit of wind so I raised the jib and sailed along looking for a good spot to drop anchor and troubleshoot (I still could not believe I had just run out of fuel). I have a bridge lift to negotiate in tight quarters so sailing home wasn't an option. Got anchoring accomplished and soon realize I had dropped the hook in the bug capital of the USA. It was dark but the instant I turned my headlamp on there were so many bugs I could hardly breathe. Oh boy, this is going to be a fun night. Two and a half hours and five million bug deaths later, I was good to go.

Lesson learned...check your fuel level every time!!! Oil too.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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GeoffSchultz
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Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by GeoffSchultz »

You may have needed to fill the fuel filter.
BlueJacket
1997 Freedom 40/40
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Camino
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Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by Camino »

Mike - so glad it eventually worked out with a fix! Anywhere near fisherman’s slough on False River is a “b-word” (bugs and mosquitoes)! Happy you are good. Edit.... Ah, I see you were a bit southeast of that!
Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

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mike cunningham
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Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by mike cunningham »

GeoffSchultz wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:12 pm
You may have needed to fill the fuel filter.
exactly correct. I replaced the primary racor but did not fill. I am sure this was the issue. I did fill the secondary on engine but that is about 1/3 the size. Another lesson learned.
Last edited by mike cunningham on Sat Aug 22, 2020 11:31 am, edited 2 times in total.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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mike cunningham
Posts: 355
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by mike cunningham »

Camino wrote:
Fri Aug 21, 2020 8:46 pm
Mike - so glad it eventually worked out with a fix! Anywhere near fisherman’s slough on False River is a “b-word” (bugs and mosquitoes)! Happy you are good. Edit.... Ah, I see you were a bit southeast of that!
yea, i was anchored out at potato slough and no issues at all, other than hot.

Got down into old river it was bug city on steroids.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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jamesorr
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Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by jamesorr »

Filling the primary and secondary filters certainly helps -- but it still takes awhile. When I changed my filters last year, I gave up with the manual pump, and instead turned the engine over for a couple of seconds (maybe I was close) with the engine stop being held open which I suspect was a lot less work. Still hard to believe you could go through 3/4 of a tank in just 35 miles. I have the same tank sensor (and a sender attached which allows me to read it at the chart table), and I normally go from a full tank to about a 1/4 tank over 85-90 miles (running 2800 rpm).

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Camino
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Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by Camino »

On the fuel pump lever- when depressing that lever pump to get fuel into the system, you should feel a squishy slight resistance (spongy) feel at the bottom of the pump stroke. If no spongy resistance, open the decompression levers on the top of the motor, and yank the fan belt to turn the motor to get to a different position on the cylinders, then pump the lever and feel for the spongy resistance at the bottom the fuel pump stroke. Fuel will enter much quicker! Make sense? (Don’t know if I’m explaining that clearly :D )
Tom and Stephanie
Good Way II F 35 (P)
1999. Wing Keel 5’
3GM30F, 3-blade maxi prop
Emery Cove, CA

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mike cunningham
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Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by mike cunningham »

jamesorr wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:04 pm
Filling the primary and secondary filters certainly helps -- but it still takes awhile. When I changed my filters last year, I gave up with the manual pump, and instead turned the engine over for a couple of seconds (maybe I was close) with the engine stop being held open which I suspect was a lot less work. Still hard to believe you could go through 3/4 of a tank in just 35 miles. I have the same tank sensor (and a sender attached which allows me to read it at the chart table), and I normally go from a full tank to about a 1/4 tank over 85-90 miles (running 2800 rpm).
You are right. I am quite sure I misread the tank status when i departed home. I should have rechecked fuel status when I departed the anchorage after my four day vacay. Fortunately I always carry at least one 5 gal jerry.

Re engine turn over. Yes, I tried this with seacock closed and stop cable out. I just didn't like doing it to be honest. Let it turn for five seconds or so and decided to just pump manually. One other approach which might have been worthwhile would be to set the decompression levers and rotate the motor manually with a crank or socket handle. Also being sure to close seacock. Unfortunately I do not have the right socket to fit over the crank pulley bolt. I am going to fix this oversight because I have had a number of occasions during which I have wanted to be able to crank the engine without having to use the starter. It is awfully awkward doing this manually.
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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mike cunningham
Posts: 355
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:21 am
Location: Jacqueline, F30 #3, Discovery Bay, California

Re: Ran the boat out of fuel...WHAT!!??

Post by mike cunningham »

Camino wrote:
Sat Aug 22, 2020 1:10 pm
On the fuel pump lever- when depressing that lever pump to get fuel into the system, you should feel a squishy slight resistance (spongy) feel at the bottom of the pump stroke. If no spongy resistance, open the decompression levers on the top of the motor, and yank the fan belt to turn the motor to get to a different position on the cylinders, then pump the lever and feel for the spongy resistance at the bottom the fuel pump stroke. Fuel will enter much quicker! Make sense? (Don’t know if I’m explaining that clearly :D )
OMG, I was thinking about this and did not do it! I was kinda wondering if the position of the crank would have any impact on pump lever function. It seemed like the squishy part you are mentioning was a very small squishy part compared to what I am used to and I have done a lot of bleeding. I seemed to be getting a lot less oomph out of the pump. The crank may have been just so to reduce my pumping efficiency quite a bit.
How many damn lessons are there to learn here? I am going to have to start another list! :lol:
Mike Cunningham
Freedom 30 (Mull) Hull #3
Build date...June, 1986 . Freedom Yachts USA, sloop, shoal keel
Gun Mount and pole retrofitted (purchased from a Hoyt Freedom 32)
Yanmar 2gm20F , 1600 hrs fixed two blade prop
e-rud and ocean racing equipment

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