Is My Diesel Engine Fuel Fill OK Located In the Engine Room?

Diesel fuel-fill fittings should be on deck, where spills can't fall into engine-room spaces.

27th June 2013.
By Ed Sherman

Question: I recently had my boat surveyed for insurance purposes. The survey report states that I need to relocate the fuel fill for my diesel fuel tank to the deck of my boat, and that the current location (see photo) is not compliant with ABYC Standards.

fuel fill in engine room

This fuel-fill arrangement doesn’t comply with ABYC standards, and for good reason.

The boat is only a few years old and I’m having a little trouble understanding how the builder could have made this mistake. Does this installation really need to be changed to become compliant?

Answer: Your surveyor wins in this case. The statement found within ABYC Standard H-33, which covers diesel fuel systems, is the key to this:  “Fuel fills shall be located and oriented so that no fuel can enter the boat when it is in its static floating position and fuel overflows at a rate of five gpm (19 lpm) for five seconds.”

The way that your fuel fill is oriented it will be really hard to ensure that some diesel fuel is not going to get spilled into the engine room area during fueling. Even though your boat is diesel-fueled and no genuine explosion hazard exists, it still won’t pass the ABYC test, which is similar in many ways (but not all) to the gasoline fuel system standard, H-24.

As for USCG requirements in this area, the Coast Guard basically ignores diesel fuel systems in its requirements for recreational boats.

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About the author:

Ed Sherman

Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.

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