How to Increase Fuel Efficiency when Boating

A fishing boat in a lake refueling at a dock gas pump.On a perfect day out on the water, you could expect to burn dozens of gallons of gas. With the current price of gas, that can become a very expensive outing very quickly – especially if you have to rely on the fuel station at the marina, which tends to run even higher than traditional gas stations. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can follow to reduce fuel usage with your boat, saving you money and cutting down on emissions. Let’s review some tips on how to increase fuel efficiency when boating.

Increase Fuel Efficiency by Inspecting and Maintaining Your Vessel

According to Go Downsize, small, personal watercraft use roughly 3 to 8 gallons of gas per hour at cruising speeds, while speed- and motorboats tend to use 20 to 30. This varies depending on size and weight, but regardless of these features, there are a few inspection and maintenance steps you can perform that will increase fuel efficiency:

  • Tune the Engine: Once a year, take your boat to the shop for a tune-up.
  • Use the Correct Propeller: Using a propeller that’s suited to your boat can improve fuel efficiency. You also want to make sure it’s in good condition without dents or chips.
  • Clean the Hull: Grass and barnacles create drag on the hull, making the engine work harder. Clear detritus from your hull to make your boat more aerodynamic.
  • Upgrade Your Motor: While this can be costly, newer technology has made boating engines far more fuel efficient.

Installing a fuel-flow meter can also help you measure how much gas your engine is burning in real-time. This can inform you of the engine’s performance and guide your captaining habits.

Tips to Follow Before Leaving the Dock

There are a few steps you can take before leaving the dock that can have an impact on your fuel economy. These tips include:

  • Ditch the Unnecessary: Take stock of what’s onboard and unload anything unnecessary, such as extra anchors or unused fishing equipment.
  • Lighten Your Tanks: If your boat has a freshwater tank, fill it with only as much water as you’re certain you’ll need. Also, gasoline weighs 6 pounds per gallon, so don’t top off your tank unless you know you’ll be cruising for a while.
  • Avoid Idling: Newer engines don’t require excess time to warm up. Modern engines are fuel injected, meaning they are ready to go a minute or two after start-up.

Once you’ve lightened the load and reduced drag, you’re boats ready to head out on the water.

Increasing Fuel Efficiency Out on the Water

Even when away from shore, you can increase fuel efficiency. Here are some final steps that will reduce fuel usage while on the water:

  • Organize Your Passengers: Your boat engine is most efficient when your boat is trimmed and parallel to the waterline. Rearrange passengers so your boat doesn’t lean too far to one side.
  • Eliminate Wind Drag: If you have a canvas or bimini top, taking it down while cruising can drastically reduce wind drag.
  • Maintain a Plane: Once you leave the no-wake zone, increase the throttle until the boat is on a level plane. You don’t want to create a steep wake behind you.

You can always plan a shorter trip, too. Plan to travel to a closer destination or simply cruise out to a relaxing spot and lay anchor for a while.

Abiding by these simple and relatively inexpensive tips to increase fuel efficiency when boating can save you a significant amount of money. However, saving on fuel isn’t the only thing you should be concerned about when boating. For all the other mishaps that can occur while boating, you should be sure to invest in the right watercraft insurance policy. AT TJ Woods Insurance, we can match you with the most appropriate boat insurance for your vessel. If you’re in the market for better boat protections, contact us today.