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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.