Gas and diesel prices are rising fast and that is affecting the boat industry. Recreational sailboat and power boat owners around the country are faced with either spending more money or less time on the water. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association 3 percent of boaters in 2007 didn’t put their boats in the water, this year only 1 percent plan on not wetting their boat. So what can we do to help squeeze more miles out of every dollar we spend at the pump? Plenty!
After doing my own research and drawing from my own experiences, below is my top 20 list of ways to improve your boats fuel efficiency.
- Many of today’s boats have electronic fuel injection or direct fuel injection which need more injector cleaner detergent than is typically in commercially available gasoline. Use a good injector cleaner to clean-up injector deposits and help your engine run its best.
- Marine diesel additives will upgrade the typical No. 2 diesel fuel to a high octane premium diesel. It is documented in laboratory tests to significantly improve engine performance, increase fuel economy to just over 13 percent, and reduce exhaust emissions.
- Lighten the load whenever possible by taking along only the gear and supplies you’ll need. If you’re going on a one-day trip, don’t pack enough gear and supplies onboard for a six-day cruise. Clear your deck of clutter and lower canvas tops. You’ll reduce the weight and drag of your boat, and you’ll not only burn less fuel, you might see improvements in handling and performance as well.
- Distributing onboard gear evenly. If your boat is listing to one side or the bow is weighted down and plowing through the water due to poor placement of onboard gear, your fuel efficiency is going to drop. So, be sure all equipment and other stuff is balanced through-out the boat. This helps give a smoother ride and increase your mileage.
- A quality onboard fuel computer will help you efficiently manage what you have in your tank by supplying accurate readings of how much fuel you are using at any given moment. This is a highly desirable alternative to the notoriously inaccurate fuel gauges that come standard on many boat models.
- Regular engine maintenance and tune-ups will contribute greatly to your boat’s overall fuel efficiency. If your motor is not operating the way it should, chances are the system will be working overtime and eating up more fuel. You might have a professional marine technician overhaul your engine. Also be sure you are running your boat within the RPM range recommended by the manufacturer for best fuel efficiency.
- Installing a quality trim-tab system on your boat (if approprate) will not only improve the ride of your boat, it will help you go farther on a tank of fuel. Trim tabs allow you make necessary adjustments to the way your boat cuts through the water, planes and handles. By Adjusting your trim according to boat speed/load and the current water conditions you will help optimize performance and save fuel.
- The hulls of boats kept in the water often have overgrown jungles trailing from thier bottoms. If you are carrying a small eco-system of algae, barnacles or other marine growth on your boat, you will definitely have fuel-consuming drag when underway. So check often your boat’s underside and brush or scrub off any unwanted visitors.
- Talking about the bottom, when was your last haul-out? Is it time for new bottom paint? This too can help you improve performance.
- If you fish, water in your boat’s bait tank and live wells can add a surprising amount of weight to your boat (about 8 pounds per gallon). Instead of heading home at the end of the day with all this extra weight, empty your tanks of both unnecessary water and bait before making that long run back to the docks.
- I suppose we should also mention the ballast sacks for wakeboarding. Maybe it’s time to rethink the huge wake and cut back some. If you don’t want to cut back then maybe rethink how you use them. In the past, my buddy filled up in the morning and didn’t empty until the end of the day. He’s thinking about only doing so many runs this year with his ballast sacks filled and dumping back out before cruising off to catch up with the rest of the group.
- When you fuel up, do it in the mornings before the heat starts up. This assures you’re getting the most fuel for your money.
- When fueling your boat, run the pump slowly. Many nozzels have a design that recaptures and you may not be getting all you’re paying for. Never ‘top up’.
- Another reason to fuel slowly is some pump nozzels don’t have a shut off and you end up dumping fuel into the water. This hurts not only your wallet but the water you love to play on.
- Don’t wait until your tank is nearly empty, try to refuel at the half way point. Gas evaporates quickly and open space in the tank can steal your play time.
- Use the appropriate size propeller and check for damage. Using the stock propeller may not be best suited for your type of boating. By experimenting with different props, you may find one that saves fuel and improves performance.
- Check your prop, a damaged prop, even just a slight “ding”, can negatively affect fuel efficiency and performance – get it fixed! While you’re having that done be sure they check the balance of the prop. An unbalanced prop can cause more problems than just loss of miles.
- Throttle back to cruising speed or the “sweet spot”. Chances are that your boat does not get her best mileage at full speed. Once you get up on a plane, throttle back slightly to find the best speed. Your boat will ride smoother, more level and performs her best.
- Avoid excess engine idling. Even in neutral, your boat is consuming fuel, it takes less fuel to restart the engine than to idle for one minute, plus idling can produce potentially deadly carbon monoxide (CO) fumes.
- Use the proper fuel to oil mix for your engine ( if you have that type of engine). If you must mix your own fuel, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Too little or too much oil can harm your engine, affect overall performance and reduce fuel efficiency.
- On a side note of keeping your money in your wallet. If you’re not up on the new permit we’re all going to have to have then you might want to read about the upcomming boating permit the end of September.
There you have it, my top 20 tips to improve your miles per gallon on your boat. Do you have a buddy that might find this list helpful? If you do, you can use the share this button below to email them a copy. Sailboat and power boat owners alike are looking for answers to the fuel crunch so if you’ve additional information please comment below with it.