Fueling at Port Mathurin

We arrived into Port Mathurin on a Saturday and fueled the following Thursday. This isn’t to say that fueling was one of the things we did on Thursday–that’s all we did that day and we were lucky to get it done in a day.

Highlights from September 20th follow. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps

Bunkering request

We started at the Port Captain’s office just past 9am, where we’d been asked to drop off a letter confirming our intent to fuel. We’d arranged everything beforehand, but the Port Captain had changed in the last few days and the new Captain needed more paperwork. We had to fill out and sign five copies of a Bunkering Request, bring it to the fuel supplier to sign and stamp each copy, then return to the Port Captain to sign and stamp each one and then grant approval to bunker at the jetty. The fuel supplier and ourselves also needed to agree to and follow an extensive checklist for the bunkering procedure. The paperwork was designed for large commercial ships and so was a bit of a challenge to fill out (How many tons and what type of fuel do we need? And how many PSI would we like it delivered at?) We burned off nearly two hours getting everything completed and the fueling approved.

We needed to pay for the fuel before it was delivered, and the fuel company accepted payment only in cash denominated in Mauritius Rupees. We’d brought sufficient Australian cash to purchase the fuel and brought this to the State Bank of Mauritius to convert to Maruitius Rupees and deposit into the fuel company’s account. For money-laundering concerns, we also needed to bring our Australian bank statement showing proof of the source of the cash, along with a passport as identity. The bank also required that someone from the fuel company be there to approve the deposit. After another hour or so, the payment had been processed and we were ready to fuel. It was about 11:30 by this time.
Rodrigues Oil

There’s only one fuel supplier on the island: Rodrigues Oil (RodOil). The fuel would be transferred to this truck for transport to the jetty.

The delivery truck doesn’t have a meter, so we needed to request exactly the amount we wanted delivered and be on hand at the filling station when the truck was loaded. On the right is Alain Flore of the Rodrigues Oil station, who we’d arranged the fueling with beforehand while still in Australia.
6,900 liters

At 12:30pm, the fuel delivery truck now has our requested 6,900 liters on board and it’s ready for transit to Dirona.
En route

We followed the fuel truck to the jetty in Alain Flore’s car.
Forward bladder

South Africa is only 1800 miles away, but we filled the forward bladder to give us the option to run much faster if we choose to since the weather is volatile and potentially dangerous in that area. Even when filled, the forward bladder is not an inconvenience as we can still easily access the bow through the gate at the bottom left of the picture.
Internal tanks

We filled the internal tanks after filling the forward bladder. The new Port Captain, Alan Stephen, is standing on the left next to Alain Flore of Rodrigues Oil. Filling was a bit tricky as the choices were to gravity feed at a trickle, or use the truck’s high-volume pump which is well in excess of 50 gallons per minute. This fill rate was so high the vents in our fuel tanks can’t keep up and the tanks are running at a substantially positive pressure. Our fuel gauges read level by measuring pressure at the bottom of the tank, and at this fill rate the pressure is so high they just read full. So we had to rely on the sight gauges in the engine room. This is a slight hassle, but the main issue is the sight gauges don’t read beyond 185 gallons from the top. We timed the fueling rate with the sight guages and filled with the pump until we were within about 100 gallons or so of filled on each side, and then gravity fed the rest in.

Another difficulty with the fueling process was that that the only shut-off control was at the truck–the filling nozzle was just a straight pipe at our end. And the hose contained at least 10 gallons of fuel, so even when the flow was cut-off at the truck, a lot could still come out the nozzle end. So we had to be extremely careful not to over-pump and spill fuel. When the truck was empty, the hoses were drained into buckets and we poured the remaining fuel into the tank via funnel. It was past 4pm by the time we’d finished fueling, the port had closed, and someone had to stay late to let the fuel truck out. We were very lucky to have gotten the whole job done in one day. And were even more lucky to not have not spilled a drop. However, there were times when it felt like we were going to need a defibrillator before we were done. Also we didn’t realize it, but the next day, Friday, was a holiday. So if we hadn’t completed today, we’d have had to wait until Monday.
Jerry cans

Fueling was a real hassle, but it could have been worse. For purchases of less than a thousand liters, the only option is jerry cans carried to the fuel station and back. On that model, we would have needed 365 jerry cans.
Blue Marlin

A successful fueling doesn’t normally warrant a celebration, but this one did. We enjoyed a great meal, and a fabulous lemon-meringue tart dessert, at the Blue Marlin.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.


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11 comments on “Fueling at Port Mathurin
  1. Jim Cave says:

    Gosh! And I thought the fuel truck dance in Sointula was bad! All for $0.95 Cdn per litre.

    • We generally like filling from trucks. As you point out, more often than not, the pricing is much better and the fill rate is usually adjustable and can be set fairly fast. We’ve done truck fills in Hilo Hawaii, Nelson New Zealand, Whangarie New Zealand, and many other places. What made this one different is we were filling up using a 4″ hose with an adapter at the end for our fill fitting, no shut off valve at the fill point, and only two fill speeds where one is barely filling at all and the other is about 200 liters/min, and no means of metering the flow rate or knowing quantity moved. This fueling was by far the most complex filling we have ever attempted.

  2. Glen says:

    Do the bladders have baffles or something inside to stop sloshing around? If not, why not?

    • The bladders are not baffled. They get there stability from a combination of being completely full and there being 3 seperate tanks. Each tank seperate and sealed prevents sloshing between tanks. Having the tanks filled right to the top prevents much movement. During pump down, the single tank being pumped down will start to slosh back and forth and this is most noticable when nearly full and, as the tank pumps down, becomes less noticable.

      Fuel stability doesn’t seem to be a problem based upon our experience so far.

  3. Russ says:

    I have really been enjoying your posts. When you fill up those bladders on deck does it make the ship feel/handle different?

    • The deck fuel adds 5,700 lbs on deck but that’s only 5% of the overall weight of the boat. It’s not a huge additional load but it is material. The boat might feel a bit more sluggish when pulling off the dock with a full load but, other than that, I don’t notice any difference..

  4. Tim Kaine says:

    Blue screen of death is not a god thing. Both times I have had that, it was time to replace the pc. Hope you fare better.

    • At least we are operational with access to all the data we neeed and are just operating a couple of display screens less than usual.

      For sure we have a failed display card. What’s less certain is are there other problems. Unfortunately, there is no way to know other than to get a tested good display card and give it a try. Even that isn’t particularily easy when looking for a graphics card that has not been made since 2006 in Reunion.

  5. Stewart Kelly says:

    Wow James, An eye opening story. There is so much we take for granted fueling and maintaining a boat. Thanks for sharing this valuable lesson in how complex things could be. Great to know all worked out just fine and there was a fabulous dessert to put the icing on one busy day.

  6. Gary Cummings says:

    Enjoy all your posts. Thanks for sharing you fueling ordeal. What kind of prices do you pay for fuel in these remote locations.

    • The fuel prices in remote locations are actually sometimes pretty good when compared with larger centers. In Rodrigues we paid less per liter than we did in Dampier Australia. I think it was right around $1.50/l which is high when compared to the US but not bad for world cruising. It does mean a fill is $10k which is a bit eye openning when you are travelling as much as we have been as late :-).

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