In my many years as a captain and now as head of a service company one of the most common faults with marine diesel engines is when a yacht picks up bad fuel. I therefore wanted to give some advice on where to buy diesel in Palma and some general guidelines when filling up with fuel elsewhere and what to look out for with bad diesel.
Diesel that has been stored in a fuel station or a yacht’s tank for a while, especially over the winter months, will often accumulate condensation giving water in the diesel. Between the layer of water and fuel, microbial bacteria, fungi and algae can form which is commonly described under the umbrella of “diesel bug”.
Once you have diesel bug it can prove to be an absolute nightmare to get rid of and live with as it tends to multiply very quickly and will then clog up the entire fuel system, eventually leading to engine failure. Every time we come across a problem like this, we inspect the fuel filters first and if we see signs of bug, we know that the diesel will need to be professionally cleaned as well as the tanks and fuel system.
Because of this, when filling with diesel we favour very popular fuel stations with a high turnover as it means there is little or no diesel stagnating in the shore tanks. In Palma, for example, the fuel dock at Servicios Tecnicos Portuarios has a very high turnover year round, whereas Real Club Nàutico de Palma’s fuel dock is less busy in the winter months but very busy in summer.
Superyachts will often take a fuel sample before bunkering which is stamped and dated by the fuel station. If you are filling up with 50 tons (50,000 litres) of fuel you want to know the fuel you are buying is of a guaranteed quality! Fuel stations that adopt this practice are generally the ones to use as they know that if the fuel they supply is not up to scratch it will be coming back to bite them in the future.
For the smaller yachts we also suggest adding some anti-bacterial additive after or before fuelling as this will help prevent the build up of water in the tanks. It’s also always a good idea to keep the tanks either completely full or empty in the winter, as again this prevents the build-up of condensation.
For advice on fuelling in Palma or if you have any fuel related problems please do get in touch with us at Berthon Spain.
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