It has been called to our attention that Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s ChesapeakeBoating.net has published an article called “The Ethanol Project,” which attempts to assist boaters to find gasoline fuels that do not contain ethanol. The article lists Dare Marina handling non-E10 fuels and asks that those aware of additional locations provide that information to the magazine.
Most boaters are aware that ethanol fuels, i.e the E10 gasoline commonly available, are not very suitable in the marine environment. For detail information about the problems of E10, see other articles on our (Dare Marina’s) website under Service).
While we applaud any effort to remove E10 from the boating environment, we believe that here a note of caution is appropriate. We discussed the availability of non-ethanol gasoline with our fuel supplier. He noted that there are a few Dare Marina’s in the Northern Neck of Virginia that have continued to sell non-ethanol fuels (as confirmed by looking at the provided list of Dare Marina) and there are a couple of terminals out of Richmond distributing this product. However, he has talked to their dispatchers, who believe these sources will dry up before the end of the year. Our impression is these fuels probably have MBTE in them as an oxidizer (octane enhancer). If that is true, folks who use these fuels would be wise to avoid filling up at any E10 fuel location unless they can run their fuel tank very nearly empty before refilling. The combination of E10 fuels and MBTE fuels are know to produce a jelly like substance, usually in the form or small beads, that can clog up the small passages in the fuel system components, leading to expensive repairs. Engines with VST tanks are especially vulnerable to this problem.
So if you gas up with a non-E10 fuel, confirm from the operator that the fuel does not contain MBTE. If it does contain MBTE, make sure you only fuel at other MBTE facilities. Also if the predictions of the end of MBTE suppliers comes to pass, run your tank to near empty before taking on E10 fuels, make sure your fuel tank contains no residual water, and change your fuel filter frequently for several fills after the transition.