I get fuel delivered. Gasoline is heavy, messy, hard to handle and expensive and potentially kinda dangerous. But like all but the lost tribes of Patagonia, I have come to depend on it for running any one of 8 separate engines from boats to chainsaws, from gensets to power winches. I rely on the stuff. Gasoline: an expensive addiction.
For the first few years, I carried it in totes in the back of the car and on the boat and then I schlepped it up and down hills sometimes in the rain, in the dark and always in conjunction with hundreds of pounds of other crap. I hated gasoline almost as much as I hated propane. Plus it stinks when in the car.
So, almost ten years ago I bit the $bullet and put in a big tank for propane and a couple of smaller ones for gasoline. And it was good.
It is still horribly expensive but I do not use enough to be ‘hurt’ by $1.50 a liter gasoline and propane at approximately 25% higher than market. Like I said, ‘It’s worth it.’
And the $30,000-plus solar panel system has cut way into the use of generator-time. In the sunnier times, anyway.
When we were away, we knew that our tanks were low and we knew that the delivery service was going around our area BEFORE our arrival rather than just after so I ordered a fill-up and was NOT there to oversee the delivery. Which was not a problem. The guys know my system better than I do. I usually ‘oversee’ the exercise by cracking jokes with the captain while the crew zoom about doing the job. I rarely have to say anything about the delivery itself. And it has been that way for almost ten years. They know their stuff.
Well, until this one time when we were NOT there to check. For reasons unknown, one of the crew (likely a new guy) put diesel in one of the tanks. The ‘second one’.
When we got back, we went about our business and took out our allotments for fuel as they arose and, eventually, went through tank one. That took six weeks or so. Maybe two months. Then, in anticipation of needing more, I filled a few totes from the second tank and placed them where they would be needed when the current engine I was using ran out. I had three totes spread about.
Last week, I filled my genset with the five gallon tote from tank two. It would not start. I went through the ‘check-spark-and-fuel-routine’ and was somewhat surprised to find that I had filled my tank with diesel fuel! But, an hour of draining, filling and fixing broken fuel lines (inevitable, it seems), I had pulled all the offending diesel out and re-filled with gasoline. I was good to go but I had lost the afternoon. Life, eh?
I figured that I must have had an old diesel tote sitting around the fuel shed and, somehow, had forgotten about it and accidentally used it. ‘Must be my fault’. I wrote it off to getting old. I am doing that more often and it seems to be the right answer most of the time.
Over the course of the next few days, I filled two more tanks. The earlier experience with the genset was not even a memory. Turns out that I hadn’t used an old diesel tote, after all. Turns out my real error was assuming that I had made the first error. The real error was not realizing quickly enough that my second tank was filled with the wrong fuel.
So, another day spent draining and filling and cleaning and repairing. THAT was irritating. But the worst part was that I was down to my second tank and that tank was unusable and so I was really OUT OF FUEL!
That is NOT good. That necessitated a trip to town. Worse, I could only take three totes with me because the other totes were full of diesel. I could NOT get enough to get me through until the next planned barge delivery.
So, things will be awkward for a while.
A simple error. NOT disastrous. Just awkward and expensive and a waste of time. And one more ‘weird’ incident in life off the grid.