No diesel, no cash. Oh no!

The Mentawai Islands span 1000 miles and are so remote there’s less than ten places to buy diesel and only one bank where we can withdraw cash. Since we’re travelling during the transitional period, when there are few favourable winds, being able to top up with diesel became an important part of our route planning. SY Esper carries 360 litres of fuel inboard, and a further 200 litres in jerry cans on deck.

In order to pay for our diesel stops we need cash! And since ATMs restrict the amount you can withdraw, what happens when your cash runs out? Let’s not forget that there is only ONE ATM that Visa card holders can use.

Over on Patreon Will Hunt wanted to know where the worst diesel stops have been in our travels. We’d put this one right up there, Will. Jamie really struggled with that dinghy in the soft sand after loading up the jerry cans. Avoiding sand on the cans can be a real pain.

Will was also one of the many people who wanted to know about adding additives to our diesel supply. On Patreon, SY French Kissing Life, Stephen and Luanne Ormsbee and Astrid Pallme all wanted to know about additives. Do we use them? So far, no.

We filter all fuel with a water separator before the diesel goes into the tanks. We have a magnetic Algae X filter, a Racor 5 Micron water separator and a secondary in-line filter. Touch wood this has worked for us. As full-time liveaboards the diesel is being flushed through regularly, so rarely sits for weeks on end. The jury is out on whether those magnetic bug killers work, and bacteria measures only 0.1 microns, so even with a multi-filter set-up or even the addition of a fuel-polishing solution, we’re not completely safe.

One of the issues in Indonesia is that all diesel is now biodiesel, that’s diesel mixed with palm oil. This was introduced to decrease diesel imports and increase local palm oil consumption. Aside from environmental concerns tit also has a potential negative effect on both engine performance and lifespan, since palm oil contains fatty acid methyl esters (aka FAME). It has a solvent that can corrode engine seals and gaskets. If you aim to spend a significant amount of time in Indonesia taking on diesel, then you should consider adding an antioxidant to combat this problem.

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American McGee, over on Patreon, says ‘The US recently labelled their natural gas “Freedom Gas.” What nickname would you give diesel based on the experience of collecting, filtering, and storing it for use on the boat?’ I guess the answer is “dodgy diesel”!

Juan Pablo Garicoït, from Patreon, asked about being charged an obscene amount of money from the bank when withdrawing from remote places. Nothing’s free when it comes to banks – they’ll screw you at both ends of the transaction! When you use an ATM in Thailand you can pay over £5 for the convenience, and it’s likely your bank will take a little something in the currency conversion too. Our advice is to shop around in your country for the best deal, and shop around in the country you’re visiting for the cheapest ATM (they do vary).

David Hightower, on our YouTube community tab, asked about ATMs that don’t take your debit card. This was the problem we were running into in the Mentawais. Most of the banks here are local only, so it’s really a case of planning ahead.

And finally, on our YouTube community tab, Tamouree Jordan says, ‘…have you ever been approached by criminals to smuggle contraband across ocean borders? Diamonds or gold? Oh well, I guess you wouldn’t tell us if you were! But how would you deal with such a situation? What if they threaten to kill you or your loved ones? Show us your Rambo faces!’
The answer’s NO! And you can see our Rambo faces on the video! Oh OK, here’s a screenshot…

Nobody would go near these fools!

Thank you for coming along for the ride, and remember to add your comments on any of our episodes, we LOVE hearing from you. You keep us motivated to share our story!


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