Carry a Filter Wrench to Change Your Fuel Filter at Sea

Make sure you can change a fuel filter at sea by carrying a filter wrench

Ensure you can change your filters at sea.Jim Hendricks / Sport Fishing

While I was fishing offshore many years ago, the boat's canister-style spin-on fuel filter filled with water, and the outboard quit. The filter did its job, straining out water that somehow found its way into the fuel tank, saving the engine from damage. But once the canister filled with water, no fuel could get by the filter element. That taught me a lesson: Always carry a filter wrench (about $8 at an auto-parts store). Otherwise, it's difficult to remove a spin-on filter, especially with wet hands. With a filter wrench, I quickly removed the canister and poured out the water, then reinstalled it (hand-tight only), primed the fuel system, and restarted the engine. Another option is to use a Racor fuel filter with a bowl and petcock at the bottom. This allows you to drain away water without removing the filter.