With the cost of fuel on the rise, boaters need to rethink how they use their boat to use less fuel boating and save money

marine fuel consumption
Image used under a creative commons licence courtesy of jkavo.

If you’re a boater on a budget then you’re bound to be looking for ways to increase your vessel’s fuel efficiency. Fuel is a significant cost when running a boat, but there are a few simple things you can do to improve the fuel consumption of your boat.



Plan your journey around the tide and the wind

Planning your journey around the wind and the tide might sound like an extreme measure, but often it’s relatively easy to do and will certainly reduce fuel consumption. If you’re using the tide it’s crucial that the boat speed is well-matched to the tide to prevent it from pushing a foul tide. Not only will planning your journey around the wind and tide make for a more economical trip, but it will also offer a better sea state.

Take less fuel

Your boat may have the capacity to store enough fuel for you to travel around the world, but any excess fuel is doing nothing but slowing you down. For this reason it’s advisable to only take as much fuel as is necessary for a trip. It should be relatively easy to calculate how much fuel you need to take for a particular journey, but always add an additional 10-20% as a precautionary measure. Excess fuel simply adds to the weight of the vessel and makes it even harder for the engine to propel it through the water.

Check the engine

It’s crucial that an engine is able to take on air and fuel. Most boats have fuel readout meters, and there is an easy way to test if this is an issue; simply ease back on the throttle, and if the boat sees a drop in fuel consumption without a drop in speed then it is likely having trouble taking on air or fuel. Without fuel readout meters the filters can still be checked to ensure that they are clean. Dirty filters can block the flow of fuel to the engine and impede the performance of the boat.

Lose weight

Obviously the weight of a boat has a significant influence over its fuel consumption. Ridding a boat of any unnecessary items is a great way to reduce fuel consumption easily. Often people take unnecessary items on a boat trip, such as spare parts of maintenance tools. Food and bedding isn’t going to add a lot of weight but parts, equipment and tools will.

Water is another important consideration. Obviously it’s important to have enough water to keep people hydrated and hygienic, but water is even heavier than fuel, so only take as much as you need.

Clean the hull

Marine growth on the hull of a boat can make a big impact on its performance. A full scrub of the hull should be enough to get rid of the problem, but hull growth can happen surprisingly quickly, especially in warmer waters.

Adjust trim tabs

Trim tabs are designed to adjust the altitude of a boat by lifting the stern and lowering the bow. If you’re not using your trim tabs then you should; getting it right can improve fuel efficiency and reduce drag. You should periodically review how the boat sits in the water and adjust the trim tabs accordingly. Remember that lowering the bow too much will reduce speed and fuel efficiency.

About the Guest Post Author
Alan Cairns is a writer based in Brighton, UK and writes on a number of subjects including outboard motor maintenance and canal boat holidays in the UK.

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Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of MyBoatLife.com as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids BoaterKids.com. She is also active in the boating industry, serving as the marketing director for a marine sunshade product, SureShade, and founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.

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