Boat Fuel Efficiency

If you haven’t done before, now is an ideal time to start thinking about your boat fuel efficiency.  Not only because of the current economic climate and rising fuel prices but also because it can go a small way into helping the environment too.

There are a few things that can be done to help increase your boats fuel efficiency ..

  • Monitor the Fuel Use – Increasingly we monitor fuel used by our cars.  This is also a good practice to follow for your boat, and hopefully you will notice how general ‘housekeeping’ can help with fuel efficiency.
  • The Right Engine – Purchase a low emission, fuel efficient engine.  Make sure that it is sufficient for your boat, so that you have enough power to handle the load.  Without the right engine, you will require more throttle to move the boat, which in turn will affect the fuel economy.
  • Using the Right Fuel – Make sure that you use the right fuel as recommended by the engine manufacturer and that you buy it from a reliable source.  Low quality fuel may foul the plugs, which in turn can cause the engine to stall or decrease in performance, both of which would burn more fuel.  If you have to mix your own fuel, follow the recommendations.  Too little or too much oil can harm your engine, affect overall performance and reduce fuel efficiency.  If possible change your engine from 2-stroke to 4-stroke as 30% of fuel and oil used ends up in the water.
  • A Clean Boat – Ensuring that the hull is free from any marine growth helps reduce drag in the water and allow easier handling.  Additionally, applying a coat of antifouling paint to the hull helps to reduce drag and friction on the hull.
  • Reducing Weight –Like all of us, a boat benefits from shedding some weight so give your boat a spring clean and get rid of any unnecessary items that are stored.  The lighter the boat, the less fuel it will burn.  Weight distribution is also an important factor, particularly for displacement boats.
  • Drain Unnecessary Water –At approximately eight pounds a gallon, excess water weight can really add up.  The lighter the boat is, the better fuel economy mileage you’ll get.  Ensure that bilges are kept dry and tops off water tanks only if necessary.
  • Reduce Speed – Simple & obvious solution really but slowing down and achieving a good average cruising speed will reduce fuel consumption.  However, it is important to remember that if you own planing vessels, these boats rely on the speed to plane along the surface water.  Without the speed, they will drag, and use up your fuel.
  • Checking Your Propeller – It is important to make sure you have the right size prop for your boat and that it is in good working order.  If your boat is over-propped, you will find it harder to get the boat up on the plane.  If, on the other hand. It is under-propped, whilst you will get your boat up on the plane, it will then be harder to maintain reasonable cruising speed.
  • Boat Handling –When you are satisfied that you are doing everything maintenance –wise for your boat, you could consider other ways to reduce boat fuel costs.  Examples being improving your skills of using the tides and wind to your advantage.  If managed correctly, this can help save you money long term.
  • Engine Maintenance – Like anything, your engine will benefit from regular servicing and maintenance, helping to eliminate any problems before they become too big.  Proper maintenance not only extends engine life, it also saves fuel.  Your local service point will be able to advice you on regular service requirements and also be able to help you with prop calculations.