Ways To Save Fuel Costs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2004

The latest news from the big financial centers is that the price of oil dropped several dollars over the last week. This is great news to everybody as it becomes just a little cheaper to take the family out for a day of boating. However, this short-term reprieve doesn’t detract from the fact that as a country we need to use a lot less oil, recreational boaters included!

Last week I looked at three ways you could easily and quickly make your boat more fuel efficient, and today we look at a few more. These are not huge issues, just some common sense items that will save the amount of fuel you use.

Tip #1 – Drive your boat like you drive your car: I guess I am getting old but I have started watching younger drivers and their jacket rabbit starts once the light turns green at stop lights and asked myself, why? Do those young drivers, many of whom pay for their own gas, have an idea the amount of fuel this stop/go driving costs them? Probably not, but I bet their parents do, especially if the parents are paying the costs. The same type of outlook can be applied to recreational boaters.

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Big fuel savings can be made by using your throttle in a slow deliberate fashion, slowly bring the vessel up to speed, and then once up on plane, backing off he throttle to a reasonable transit speed. One of the hardest lessons my senior Boatswain Mate would try to instill in young RHIB coxswains. Onboard the Coast Guard cutter I commanded, was the theory that there are more than two speeds on a small boat – all ahead flank and all back full! The same approach applies here. Careful, deliberate acceleration is the key, just like the pedal on a car. Don’t get me wrong; I love going incredibly fast in a boat, but the need to save fuel is much more important.

Tip #2 – Don’t idle your boat for excessive periods of time. May sound crazy, but people waste a lot of money letting their boats ideal at the dock while they are getting ice or bait or waiting on crazy Uncle Bob. If you are serious about taking steps to save money then only operate the motor when you need it.

Tip #3 – Get all the excess water out of the boat, thereby decreasing the weight the motor is required to push. How many times have you stepped onboard a boat and there is an inch of water in some spots? Power boaters routinely have excess water onboard which decreases the efficiency of the motor. Getting the excess water out is actually quite easy — just make it part of your pre-underway check list (you do have a pre-underway check list don’t you?). Simple things like checking the radio, making sure you have fuel, etc. This should be part of any preparations to get a boat underway, even for a short trip across a lake!

So here are three more ways to save fuel costs and run your boat more efficiently. Hopefully these are useful to you!

Until next week….Boat Safe… and Boat Smart!