Bulk fuel for Cairns to Thursday Island

 Looks like I'm flying back to West Oz on Thursday night after five months and two failed attempts to get back in, I won't count my chickens until I hit the ground...... 

If this trip is successful then I finally get to bring the big duck ( 8.5m Bruce Harris Sharkcat ) home to Thursday Island and I can start doing some long range missions out to Ashmore reef during the monsoon to chase some XL Doggies. 

Here's my dilemma. I've got to travel 370 Nm from Cooktown to TI on 700 litres. It's not going to give me a good enough buffer for safety and I want to have an extra 300 litres to do this leg and I'm wondering how to achieve this?. I know you can get fuel from Lockhart river but I want to be completely self sufficient in case this is an unviable option due to no fuel or whatever. It would also be good to be able to spend some time out on the reef fishing and spearing on the way up opposed to just steaming up and not to have to worry about the fuel burn. In a perfect world I would like to leave the rear deck space free from drums, jerries and bladders so we can cover that in fish blood instead....:D 


Jerries up on the flybridge roof / rear deck hardtop. Not too happy on this one for weight being up so high, yet perfect for storing empty jerries. 

Under the deck in lockers....... Fuck that for a joke. I'm planning on not trying to make the news on this trip!. 

Store em on the rear deck ( not really ideal yet I'd consider doing this ) and get them into the tanks ASAP and empties up on the roof to avoid deck clutter.

Get a dingy and tow it behind the boat with excess fuel in that, we can mothership it out on the reef too. We're not going to be setting any speed records and will more than likely travel at less than 10kts so we can safely tow it and troll and keep the fuel burn at a slow rate for a greater range. Only downside to this is having a dingy sitting in the middle of ones spread. Yet the tow line can be ditched and the boat picked back up after landing fish. 

Any suggestions?. 

Here's the said big duck.




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 Fuel bladder viable? As soon

Sun, 2021-08-29 13:58

 Fuel bladder viable? As soon as the main tank gets down pump it in and clear the deck. 


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i like the mothership dinghy

Sun, 2021-08-29 15:03

i like the mothership dinghy option ,,,

you have the fuel near, but not dangerous , with the added extra life raft option as well


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 its  not fun towing

Sun, 2021-08-29 18:11

 its  not fun towing dinghies, and almost impossible to fiash/ trawl when u got 1 in tow

a 44 gallon tied down can still leave enough space for fishing 

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Towing a dinghy

Mon, 2021-08-30 09:08

I recently towed my 4.2m wide body ali dinghy with 30hp outboard on a bridle at 6-7knots behind a cruising yacht from Exmouth to the Montes (~240kms) and back so we could use it to fish from.  I would not recommend it. As soon as the wind got over 12-15knots it generated a steep chop which caused the dinghy to duck and weave.  Even with rubber springers in the bridle, every time the tow rope slackened even a little, the dinghy would be yanked harshly back in line. When the wind got to 20-25knots and the chop was coming side on, we thought the dinghy was going to roll over or the tow point on the dinghy would break.  It didn't, but by the time we got back to Exmouth the 12mm thick aluminium plate had been worn considerably where the tow line was shackled to it.  It is amazing how much load is generated on a tow like that.  My mate and I tried to pull the dinghy in closer to shorten the tow line at one stage.  We were only doing 6 knots but there was no way the two of us could pull the dinghy in without stopping the yacht. A dinghy loaded with fuel like you intend would likely behave similarly or worse.  , 

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 Fuel bladder jerries or

Mon, 2021-08-30 09:22

 Fuel bladder jerries or drums. Fuel bladder is good as you can stow it away when its empty, bit of a liability on deck though. Jerries are good if you want to be able to move them around, drums are a good cheap option but get rusty.

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My vote is a bladder

Mon, 2021-08-30 09:29

I've done the run from Perth to Exmouth and used a bladder for the Denham to Exmouth leg. 

I sat the bladder against the transom, and I was able to plumb it directly into the main tank so as the main was drawing down the bladder would empty into it.  Once the bladder was empty just fold it up and stowed it below decks.




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 Not a fan of towing a dinghy

Mon, 2021-08-30 11:52

 Not a fan of towing a dinghy either for reasons stated above. Fuel bladder would be my preference.

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Thanks for the input gentlemen, it’s appreciated.

Mon, 2021-08-30 11:55

 Looks like either a bladder or jerries it's going to be. If it's the bladder option I'll be needing an electric discharge pump to get the fuel from the bladder up onto the gunnel and into the tanks.


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Tank location?

Mon, 2021-08-30 12:16

Where are your tanks?  Do you have access to the top of the tank where the breathers, fillers, pickups etc are plumbed in?  If so you could rig up a gravity feed line straight into the tank rather than having to muck around with pumps. 




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Bulk fuel

Tue, 2021-08-31 14:08

I did a 52ft boat delivery from Surfers Paradise QLD to Port Moresby PNG a few years ago. Our allowed last port of call was Cairns and we needed some extra fuel. We opted on going 1 x 44 gallon drum on the bow, 1 x 44 gal on the marlin board and about 25 jerry cans. Good thing about the jerrys is you can move the weight around as needed to get maximum effect on the boats hull. Of course using a 44 or swim bladder makes it difficult if you need to "balance" the boat if needed, and holy shit,  we needed that after venturing into a major storm half way between AUS and PNG.

If I have to do it again I will use jerry cans only.....no question about it,.......but 2 brand new jerrys split in half whilst filling them, so never store fuel below deck and just jerrys spread out evenly to suit your boat and its fuel usage.

The only reason for the 2 x 44 gal drums is because we had already bought every jerry can available in Cairns that we could find and needed more fuel.

slugger's picture

Posts: 128

Date Joined: 17/02/11


Tue, 2021-08-31 16:07



Liquid Containment built me a 170 litre bladder to the dimesnions of my kill tank, then use a rotary hand pump to pump straight to fuel tank. It has a breather valve you can connect a hose to suit bladder location. They are in QLD



Rob H's picture

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 how much for that Slugger?

Wed, 2021-09-01 05:33

 how much for that Slugger?


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Wed, 2021-09-01 10:50

What brand was that successful hand pump slugger? 


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slugger's picture

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alemlube ?

Wed, 2021-09-01 15:04

 i think off top of my head

slugger's picture

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Date Joined: 17/02/11

few years ago now

Wed, 2021-09-01 06:44

 but i think around 500-600