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.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. 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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