How to Conserve Boat Fuel and Save Money

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How to Conserve Boat Fuel and Save Money

By: Boater's Choice Insurance
How to Conserve Boat Fuel and Save Money

Did you know speedboats can consume as much as 20-30 gallons of gasoline per hour of boating, whereas smaller personal watercraft can use 3-8 gallons per hour? Depending on the kind of boat you have, how fast you operate it, and how often you go out on the water, fuel costs can add up quickly. 

But there are ways to reduce this unavoidable expenditure. Keep reading for tips on how to enjoy your boat while conserving fuel and making your watercraft more efficient. 

Fill Up at a Gas Station – But Avoid E15 Fuel
Convenience comes with a cost. Fuel purchased at a marina will usually cost $0.5 to $1.5 more per gallon than at a gas station. You might not have the option of going to a gas station to fill up if you are already parked at the marina. But where you gas up is the easiest way to save on fuel costs. 

Also, make sure to use the correct gasoline for your boat engine(s). In rare cases, boats will need high-octane gas to function at their best. But most engines will perform well with regular or midgrade octane gas. However, never use E15 gasoline (fuel containing 15% ethanol) in your boat – the engine is not compatible with that mix and it will likely void your engine warranty. Instead, look for fuel containing 10% ethanol (E10) or less.

Operate at 80% of Max Speed
Your boat will get the best mileage when it is not operating at max speed, but at 60-80% of max capacity. Since the drag on boats is high, they are already inefficient when it comes to fuel consumption.

But you can improve fuel efficiency by operating your boat with as much of the wetted hull out of the water as possible. Fuel-monitoring systems and apps can also help you gauge fuel consumption (and provide other interesting statistics). This way you can determine the most fuel-efficient way to operate your boat and adjust course as needed (pun intended). 

Of course, you don't want to take all the fun out of boating. Find a balance between occasionally putting the hammer down and operating at 60-80% of max speed at other times to conserve fuel. If you want more tips to drive safer and smarter, check out a boater training class.
Put Your Boat on a Diet – Reduce Weight
Did you know water weighs 8 pounds per gallon and gasoline weighs 6 pounds per gallon? Plus, some boats have fresh water tanks that can hold 100 gallons of water. Between those tanks, that's a lot of added weight.
That's one reason experts advise not to operate a boat with a full tank of gas or a full fresh water tank. It can result in way more fuel consumption than needed.

Getting your boat's weight down also means cutting down on additional items you might be carrying. Your boat is lightest when you first purchase it. And then – like with your home – things tend to accumulate. Ask yourself this important question: do you really need everything that's on board? Avoid weight creep by cleaning out your boat after every trip and offloading unnecessary stuff onshore.

Also, consider draining your livewells before heading back in after a day on your boat. It's a simple exercise and a great way to cut down on weight. 
Keep Your Engine Tuned-Up
Engine tune-ups can improve fuel economy. Make sure to follow the maintenance guidelines in the owner’s manual. Pay close attention to the frequency guidelines for:
  • Changing spark plugs
  • Oil changes
  • Replacing filters
Also, check out the manufacturer’s performance bulletins for your boat to monitor how well your boat is running. If the performance data is not included the manual, look for it on the manufacturer's website. 
Clean Your Boat’s Hull
Faster than you can say “boating is fun,” marine growth will accumulate on your boat’s hull especially if you keep it docked in the water. That creates additional drag on your boat, reducing fuel efficiency. Make sure to regularly remove debris and marine growth from the hull, including algae and barnacles. Also, clean and apply paint regularly on your boat's bottom to keep it growth-free. 
Look for Other Savings
Don't let high gas prices deter you from using your boat. In addition to the tips above, boat insurance premiums are another opportunity to save. Contact Boater's Choice Insurance to review your existing boat coverage and to request a free quote.