With the cost of a gallon of gas
continuing to reach record highs - and prices not expected to peak until late summer -
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) has a few tips that could
significantly reduce your fuel costs.
1. Leave the extra 'junk' home: Don't load the boat up with weight you don't need. Do a little spring cleaning - unused equipment
that has been collecting mildew in the bottom of lockers for years should be taken home.
2. Water weight: This isn't about your
mother's diet. At 8.33 pounds per gallon, why
keep the water in the tank topped off if you're only going out for the afternoon?
3. Tune her up: An engine with fouled plugs, dirty air filter,
erratic timing, a sputtering carburetor, or weak compression will gobble up fuel and
perform dismally. The bottom line: A tune-up
is an excellent investment and could easily pay for itself over the summer.
Tune your prop: You can lose up
to 5 mph of boat speed with a poorly tuned prop. If your boat goes 50 mph with a like-new
prop and only 45 mph with a prop that's dinged and out of pitch, you've lost 10% of your
speed but are still using the same amount of fuel. That converts to a 10% loss in fuel
5. Clean the boat's bottom: A fouled
bottom is like a dull knife; it takes a lot more effort - fuel - to push it through the
water. Barnacles and slime slow the boat dramatically and increase fuel consumption.
6. Keep the boat in trim: Either by
using trim tabs or with weight distribution. A
boat that is trimmed correctly will move through the water with less effort - and less
7. Install a fuel flow meter: A fuel
flow meter is like a heart monitor; when consumption starts to rise, it's an early warning
that something is amiss. A fuel flow meter
also allows you to select a comfortable cruising speed that optimizes the amount of fuel
being consumed. If you don't want to spring for a fuel flow meter (about $300), you can
calculate your fuel mileage by dividing distance traveled by gallons at fill-up. Using
your logbook, you can then approximate fuel flow using average speeds and time underway.
8. For sailboats only: If you own a
sailboat, all of the above apply, but the real savings begin when the engine is shut off
and the sails are raised.