Tips To Make Boating Less "Fuelish"

Published in the August 2008 Issue Published online: Aug 26, 2008 United States Power Squadrons
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At $4 per gallon, many boaters are finding it much too costly to enjoy a day on the water. At two hours each way, a run to a nice marina restaurant can cost a boater upwards of $200. That makes for one very expensive hamburger. Following are ten helpful tips that will help you increase your fuel economy, save a few dollars and maybe increase the time you can afford to be on the water.

1. If you keep the boat on a lift, make certain your hull is clean and well waxed. If you keep your boat in the water, be sure to maintain a good coat of bottom paint. A slippery boat has less drag.

2. Proper size, pitch and number of propeller blades are important. Select the optimal combination for your boat. Sacrificing a little top end speed can give you a 10 percent increase in fuel economy.

3. Nicks, dings or bends in a propeller can increase fuel consumption by up to 15 percent so check your prop regularly.

4. Clean your carburetor, injectors and flame arrestor to maximize air fuel blend and optimal performance. Commercial gasoline additives are fine to clean your fuel systems and be sure to use a non-flammable cleaner on the flame arrestor.

5. Remove all unnecessary weight to minimize the amount of hull being pushed through the water. Every pound of weight creates the need for one more pound of displacement.

6. Trim your tabs on your outboards or stern drives to keep your bow up and out of the water to minimize drag.

7. Whenever conditions allow, keep the boat up on plane. (Be certain to adhere to all speed and wildlife control zones.)

8. Conduct some control runs and create an RPM verus fuel consumption curve. This will help you pick your optimum cruising speed.

9. Pick your boating days with care. Rough seas and headwinds can decrease your fuel economy by over 25 percent.

10. Lastly, but most importantly, tell your friends the days of the free boat trips are over. At $4 per gallon, it isn't unreasonable to tell guests up front the approximate cost of the day's gas bill and that "We will be splitting the cost amongst us." Just do so up front so they have a chance to opt out of paying $50 each for their burger.

The United States Power Squadrons has 45,000 members in over 450 squadrons throughout the United States and abroad. Its members are men, women, and young adults who volunteer and give freely of their time and energy to teach boating safety courses and seminars, provide vessel safety checks, assist the National Ocean Service in updating our nation's over 1000 nautical charts, and in other ways contribute to making boating on our waterways safer. For further information please visit the USPS Web site at or call 888-367-8777.

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