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.
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.
If you’re like me, Twitter is still a bit of a mystery sometimes. There’s a ton of information flying around, and trying to pick out what’s useful and what isn’t can be like staring at one of those computer screens of descending green digits like they had in The Matrix. So to simplify, we’ve picked out a few interesting Tweeps (that’s what they call them) for you to follow if you’re into boating and fishing. Of course, we already assume you’re following us at http://twitter.com/manitoupontoons
Predict Wind hails from New Zealand and typically caters to the sailboat crowd, but tends to have some fun links on general boating news and weather as well. Definitely worth checking out, as more than 12,500 people follow them already.
Take Me Fishing
Into fishing? Take Me Fishing provides a heavy stream of links full of fishing stories, pictures, news, recipes and anything else you can think of fishing related.
You guessed it, it’s Boating Magazine’s Twitter feed. If you like the magazine you’ll probably find a lot of things worth following on their feed, full of all kinds of cool photos and videos.
I Love Boats
Yes, these people love boats. They Tweet about it. A lot. They crank out a ton of information on places to buy boats and boating gear, news, random facts and quotes…I’m convinced. If you question these people’s love of boats, you likely are still questioning gravity.
Primarily focuses on fishing in the UK, but still has a ton of cool links, how else would I have found out about a change to go fishing with a star (http://bit.ly/qHF3lC)?
Ever wander into a lake only to be greeted by the sharp edge of a Zebra Mussel? We’re not surprised. If you live near a natural body of water, you are probably very familiar with this type of invasive species. Not only are these widespread and pesky creatures annoying for boaters, unsuspecting barefoot beach-goers, and fishers alike, they are damaging to the prosperity of fresh water lakes.
Whether you participate in recreational boating, are an avid swimmer or fisher, or prefer to stay aboard the dock to take in the beauty, fresh water lakes, rivers, and streams are some of Earth’s most amazing natural splendors. However, the increased emergence of invasive and non-native creatures such as crustaceans, fish, mollusks, and plants is a major factor in the disintegration of Lakes and Rivers.
The spread of these invasive creatures and plants severely damages the balance of aquatic eco-systems, destroys wildlife, and hinders people from fully enjoying all that fresh water has to offer. In order to ensure our lakes stay pristine and that our native species are protected, it is important that boaters and water-goers take the necessary precautions to avoid contamination.
Steps Boaters and Water Goers Can Take to Reduce the Risk of Spreading Invasive Aquatic Species
- Learn what to look for. If you’re unclear of the invasive species in your region or what they look like, check out the national list (http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/resources/lists.shtml) of invasive aquatic species.
Inspect and Remove
- Thoroughly inspect all of your boat. A thorough inspection should include looking at both the underbelly and deck of your boat.
- Be sure to look at items that came in contact with the water including life jackets, tubes, rafts, and anchors. Check pets for plants or debris.
- Scrape off and dispose of any suspected mussels. Remove all aquatic weeds hanging from the propellers or sides prior to leaving a body of water.
- Drain water from the motor and any other water from your boat and equipment before leaving the area.
- Dispose of leftover bait on land. If you find that you have leftover live aquatic bait that has been in contact with infested waters, it should not be carried to new waters.
- If you store your boat on land, thoroughly rinse and dry all parts of your boat using high water pressure (a hose will work great.) If you find that your have matured mussels on your boat, use extremely hot water to remove. Do not use bleach or other inorganic cleaning agents.
- Boats, motors, and trailers should be allowed to dry thoroughly in the sun for at least 48 hours.
What kinds of invasive creatures and plants damage bodies of water?
In order to avoid spreading invasive creatures, it is important to be aware of what species are considered non-native to your area. For a complete list, visit http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/aquatics/main.shtml. The following are considered to be harmful to bodies of water:
Rusty crayfish (Orconectes rusticus) are native to streams in the Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee area. Spread by fishers who use them as bait, rusty crayfish are can harmfully reduce lake and stream vegetation and deprive native fish and their prey of their homes and food source.
The spiny water flea (Bythotrephes cederstroemi), or “B.C.,” is a crustacean with a long and sharp tail spine. A native of Great Britain and northern Europe east to the Caspian Sea, the creature was first found in Lake Huron in 1984. Since then, populations have exploded and the animal can now be found throughout the Great Lakes and in some inland lakes.
Carp (Cyprinus carpio) are close relatives of a fish that is native to the Caspian Sea region and East Asia. Carp damage shallow lakes by causing cloudy water that can lead to declines in native fish species. The common carp was introduced into the Midwest Lakes and Streams in 1879.
The round goby is a bottom-dwelling fish and an aggressive feeder. Round gobies can forage in total darkness. The round goby takes over prime spawning sites traditionally used by native species and competes with native fish for habitat.
The ruffe (Gymnocephalus cernuus) is a small perch and a native of lakes and rivers in Eurasia. The ruffe competes with native fish for food and habitat. Its ability to push other species out of regions is due to its fast reproduction rate and its ability to feed in a variety of different environments.
Sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) are predator, eel-like fish native to the coastal regions of the Atlantic Ocean. They have contributed greatly to the decline of whitefish and lake trout in the Great Lakes.
White perch (Morone americana) are native to Atlantic coastal regions. White Perch are competitors to the native fish species, especially harmful to the walleye population.
Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) are small mussels native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. Since introduced in 1988, they have spread rapidly to all of the Great Lakes and waterways in many states, as well as parts of Canada. Adults can attach to boats or boating equipment that is in the water.
Quagga mussels (Dreissena bugensis) is a close relative to zebra mussels and are indigenous to the Dnieper River of Ukraine. They were discovered in Lake Erie shortly after the discovery of zebra mussels in 1989. Like its relative, they were carried to North America by water discharge from ships.
It is important to remember that the presence of native aquatic plants and weeds is not a threat to lakes. However, certain types of aquatic plants are not well-suited for fresh water lakes. These invasive plants include:
Curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus) is an exotic plant that forms surface mats that interfere with aquatic recreation. The plant usually drops to the lake bottom by early July. It was accidentally introduced along with the common carp. It has been here so long, most people are not aware it is an exotic.
Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is an exotic plant that can take root and crowd out the surface. In shallower waters, the plant can interfere with water recreation such as boating, fishing, and swimming. The plant’s floating canopy can also overtake native water plants. A single piece of stem or leaf has the ability to take root and form a new colony.
Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus) is a perennial plant from Europe and Asia. It grows in shallow areas of lakes. It crowds out native species. The emergent form has pink flowers and is 3-feet tall.
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) is a wetland plant from Europe and Asia. The plant can form dense, impenetrable stands that are unsuitable as cover, food or nesting sites for a wide range of native wetland animals, including ducks, geese, rails, bitterns, muskrats, frogs, toads and turtles. Many rare and endangered wetland plants and animals also are at risk.