Fuel is needed in light winds, but also to produce electricity. Even the purists who oppose the use of the engine must foresee a daily consumption in the range of 2 to 4 liters just for battery charging!
During the Rally, where motoring is often required to keep the timetable, we ran our engine for over 2000 hours, of which more than one forth has been only for battery charging.
Characteristically, almost all the Rally yachts gradually increased their fuel capacity in order to be able to motor for up to 1000 miles; besides ensuring an extra mileage, fuel canisters proved essential for refueling, as in many cases docking to a marine fuel station was either plain unavailable or very inconvenient (dirty, dangerous, equipped with ship-sized fuel nozzles, etc.).
The larger boats, which did not need extra canisters to complement their already large tanks, had to surrender and take on a number of canisters just to use them for refueling!
Finding fuel was generally not a problem, as it’s the same stuff that’s used by vehicles and local boats, but quality can be a problem, due to deposits or water which have accumulated at the bottom of the fuel station’s tanks; another good reason in favor of using canisters and then filtering the fuel when transferring it from the jerrycans to the main tank (no fuel station would allow to filter the fuel when pumping directly into the boat’s tanks, as the job would become far too slow).
A means to cleanly transfer fuel from the jerrycans to the tank, just like a syphon equipped with a priming pump and perhaps an in-line filter, is very useful to top-up the tank during sailing. Remember, always keep your tank full and refuel in calm weather!
Little surprise if, after having carried back and forwards on the dinghy several hundred liters of fuel, almost all boats freed themselves from the similarly tiring (if somewhat cleaner) job of refilling the water tanks, and installed a watermaker.
Even a small one like ours was quite enough to keep our tanks full, taking into account that we used bottled water for drinking and cooking.
Besides the spared effort, the main consideration is the quality of tap water: only in very reliable places we trusted tap water to be put in our tanks!
Until few years ago watermakers had a bad reputation of low reliability, but now things are much better, we had no single failure in the fleet throughout the whole voyage, although some 220V-powered watermakers were rendered unusable by a failure of the genset; better to have a 12V-powered watermaker, there are plenty on the market.
Even if in most of Europe and the Mediterranean availability of water is not a problem, being free from having to go into a port just for water provisioning is a great convenience; definitely we would not do without in another, even if far less adventurous voyage!