Flexible Tanks Require Special Protections


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.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida. You can reach him by email at practicalsailor@belvoir.com.