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How To Save Fuel In Your Boat – Boating Fuel Efficiency Tips

The days of dollar per gallon gasoline seem like little more than a distant memory these days. This isn’t lost to us (we think about more than just making awesome pontoon boats, y’know…). So with that in mind we compiled some of our own fuel saving tips and also asked some other prominent boaters. 

high gas prices

From Chuck Fort at BoatUS

  • Lightening the load is one of easiest no-cost things to save on gas. Boats tend to collect stuff over the years; clear out all of the junk that’s been stored that you no longer need. Don’t top off fresh water tanks, just keep enough for the day – water weighs eight pounds per gallon, which can really add up.  Also, keep your fuel tank between 1/4 to 1/2 full.  If, for example, you have a 135 gallon gas tank, keeping only 50 or 60 gallons in the tank can make you lighter by about 500 lbs (gas weighs about seven pounds per gallon).
  • Get a tune-up. An annual tune-up is a must if you’re truly serious about saving gas.  Make sure your engine air intakes are not restricted – you will burn fuel less efficiently if they are.
  • Check the prop. A dinged and bent prop can rob you of 10% of your fuel costs. Prop shops can use a machine to tell how far out of specification your prop might be and repair it like new. They can also advise as to whether you might need a prop of a different diameter or pitch for best efficiency.
  • Paint the bottom. For boats docked in salt or brackish water, keeping the fuel-robbing “green gunk” growth from adhering to your boat’s hull can save a lot of fuel.
  • Check the trim tabs. Unbalanced boats chew up the gas. Ensure that trim tabs function properly and make sure you know how to use them.
  • Avoid excessive idling and warm ups at the dock.
  • Finally, check out some locations that are nearer to you – you might find a hidden gem and save fuel to boot.

From our own staff here at Manitou

  • Make sure that your hull does not have growth (barnacles, algae, etc.) and is clean to ensure maximum speed and efficiency.
  • Follow the procedures on maintenance from the engine manufacturer for your outboard engine.
  • Decide what speed you would like to average most of the time and go with an engine that is larger than what you require. Running a 200 Hp engine at half throttle will be more fuel efficient than a 115 or a 150 that is running at maximum speed and RPMs.
  • Correct prop selection is key. A bad match up for specific boat and engine combination will destroy efficiency.
  • Prop condition, keep in as new condition. Damaged prop blades will negatively impact efficiency.
  • Every boat/engine combination has an optimum cruise speed. When traveling distances using the optimum cruise speed will ensure the best fuel economy. Boats equipped with ICON, Smartcraft or other digital set-ups can utilize these systems to optimize fuel consumption. This data can also be obtained through performance reports done by engine companies.

From Bryan Hermann (Manitou customer)

  • Weight Distribution. Try to keep the bow of the boat light. Store anchors, tools and spare props towards the rear of the boat, life jackets, towels and dock ropes towards the front. A bow heavy boat will push more water, causing excessive fuel usage. Loading like this will keep your bow high and dry.
  • Prop for economy. The use of a 4 blade prop or a “Round Ear” 3 blade will diminish prop slip. The better the bite, the better the fuel economy. Bigger diameter, less pitch will also create less slip.
  • Document Trips. Use a GPS and track your miles traveled, compare that to gallons of fuel used. You can track your economy for different driving habits. Once you figure out where your best economy range is. You can stick to that RPM range and trim setting.
  • Drop your top! When your bimini top is up, even in the bimini cover, its like a parachute catching wind.  Put your top down low, in the “Trailering” position. If you normally run with the top completely up, on nice days when the sun is not partially out.  Go ahead and take it down. You wouldn’t believe the fuel savings, just by going topless.
Have any more gas saving tips? Let us know in the comments section below.

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