Gas Saving Tips for Boaters
Before you Leave the Dock
OPTIMIZE ENGINE PERFORMANCE
Boat engines that are well tuned and regularly serviced, are more fuel efficient than those that aren't. Adhering to your engine's maintenance schedule will keep it running at peak performance and avoid unexpected and unnecessary repair costs later on.
STAY ON TOP OF YOUR YOUR PROP
Most vessel propellers are sized for the maximum speed, but sizing them to your cruising speed can help save fuel. Make sure your prop is clean and dent-free. The leading edges should be smooth with no gouges. Have them checked for proper pitch and alignment, as these factors greatly affect performance and fuel efficiency.
PUT YOUR BOAT ON A DIET
Remove any items you don't need from your boat in order to keep the weight down. Only fill up with enough gas for what you need, otherwise you'll be burning fuel just to haul the extra fuel weight. Water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon, so don't drag around unnecessary weight in your water tank. Empty your holding tank often to further reduce extra weight.
KEEP YOUR BOTTOM CLEAN
A clean hull will be one of the biggest factors in helping to reduce drag when cutting through the water, in turn, reducing your fuel consumption.
On the Water
TAKE IT EASY
If you're not in a rush to get somewhere, reducing your speed is one of simplest ways to ensure you're using less fuel. For short weekend cruises from the marina to nearby destinations, this is the best way to save money on fuel so that the hull is displacing, rather than pushing it up on to plane. Even if it takes two to three times longer to arrive at your destination, enjoy the view and save.
FIND THE SWEET SPOT
Running in your boat's "sweet spot" and limiting the amount of time a boat displaces water before coming onto plane will reduce fuel consumption. Most engines settle into the sweet spot shortly after the boat climbs onto a plane. Once planing speed is reached, trim the engine up slightly to lock it in. Each boat has a different sweet spot depending on weight, power, prop, hull length, and so on. Over time you will learn to "feel" the sweet spot for your individual boat.
Check the size of your wake. Large wakes are expensive wakes because the boat is trying to climb up on top of the water's surface. Either slow down to create a smaller wake, or speed up onto plane. Either way will save on fuel cost. If you see a zig-zag pattern to your wake, you are wasting fuel. The old adage "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line" is key to saving money on boating fuel costs.
A properly trimmed vessel reduces drag, allowing you to run on plane at a lower rpm. This results in quieter operation and maximized fuel efficiency. Too much bow up increases drag on the stern. Too much bow down decreases fuel efficiency by causing the boat to "plow". Adjust the weight distribution within the vessel. Putting more weight towards the bow of the boat will help it to trim more evenly.
Other Fuel-Saving Considerations
WIND, WAVES and TIDES
Working with Mother Nature is important for boating in general, but also advantageous for fuel cost savings. Planning your trip to take advantage of tides, currents and predicted winds can save fuel and money.
- GO TOPLESS A boat with a Bimini top can cause a lot of extra drag which affects fuel efficiency. Drop the top, and close windshields and hatches to lessen wind resistance.
- RUN WITH THE WIND Running downwind puts the least drag on your boat.
- GO WITH THE FLOW Running with the tide and current gives an added boost that also reduces fuel usage.
- PICK YOUR DAYS Sea conditions will affect the fuel efficiency. Rough conditions cause pounding, plunging, and force the vessel to come off plane. This rapidly decreases fuel efficiency.
Calm seas or light chop is ideal for fuel savings, as you can run on plane more efficiently. Bucking a head wind or climbing waves requires powering through and increased friction.
- CASH IN ON POINTS
Many credit cards offer cash back on purchases. Put them to work to offset the higher price at the pump. Several marine organizations offer fuel discounts as part of their membership perks. If you store your boat at a marina, you will often get discounted fuel there as well.
- ACTIVITIES THAT DON’T REQUIRE FUEL
Anchoring at a local sandbar or sheltered cove with a picnic aboard your boat allows you to enjoy time on the water without burning lots of fuel. Children can safely snorkel around the boat or fish with light-tackle while the adults relax. It’s also ideal for fur babies that love frolicking in shallow water.
Several boats rafted together at an idyllic spot makes for a unique social gathering experience.
- SHARING IS CARING
The buddy system will save you and a friend money on boating while gaining quality time together. By sharing your boat trips, both of you will benefit from fuel cost savings.