Flexible Tanks Require Special Protections

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What about fuel bladders? Fuel bladders must meet a higher standard than water bladders, but many of the findings from our water bladder test apply to fuel as well (see Practical Sailor Drops, Drags, and Dissects Three Flexible Portable Water Tanks, PS October 2007).

Simply placing the tank in a locker or on the cabin sole and not carefully strapping it down is asking for trouble. Lockers that close with a simple gravity held lid, and lack a positive latching device, may hide a flexible tank from view, but in a serious knock down, the last thing a crew needs is a 130-pound bag of liquid slamming down on someone in a leeward berth.

In long term use, vessel motion and the continuous slosh of water in a flexible tank can cause it to slide, shift position and chafe. The longer a flexible tank is to be kept in use, the smoother the substrate and the better the securing of the tank needs to be.

Some flexible water tanks can be harmed by winterizing chemicals-a problem not applicable to fuel tanks.

Practical Sailor tested flexible water tanks in October of 2007.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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