Something was wrong with Sally Ann, the beloved boat of Barry Treahy, another boating fan hit by the switch over. For months, Sally Ann did not run right and Treahy’s remedies weren’t working. He kept changing her fuel filters, rebuilt her carburetor. Finally, he cut into her gas tank, cleaned out the mysterious caramel-colored gunk and patched her up –twice. Disaster struck on a summer day in San Diego, when Treahy’s beloved 20-foot fishing boat was parked street side with the outer hull plug open to drain any residual water. The boat’s 55-gallon gas tank failed and gasoline streamed into the bilge and down the street. Years of adding ethanol to gasoline to reduce air pollution and foreign oil dependence has had a nasty side effect: The stuff appears to damage boat fuel tanks made of fiberglass. And California is a floating testing ground for the ethanol effect.
It’s also a test ground for lawsuits—why don’t boaters sue the responsible ones–the air quality regulators that prematurely, and mistakenly, required ethanol blending?