10 Gas Saving Tips for Boaters

With the cost of a gallon of gas continuing to reach record highs - and prices not expected to peak until late summer - Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) has a few tips that could significantly reduce your fuel costs.

1. Leave the extra “junk” home:  Don't load the boat up with weight you don't need.  Do a little spring cleaning - unused equipment that has been collecting mildew in the bottom of lockers for years should be taken home.

2. Water weight: This isn't about your mother's diet.  At 8.33 pounds per gallon, why keep the water in the tank topped off if you're only going out for the afternoon?

3. Tune her up:  An engine with fouled plugs, dirty air filter, erratic timing, a sputtering carburetor, or weak compression will gobble up fuel and perform dismally.  The bottom line: A tune-up is an excellent investment and could easily pay for itself over the summer.

 4. Tune your prop:  You can lose up to 5 mph of boat speed with a poorly tuned prop. If your boat goes 50 mph with a like-new prop and only 45 mph with a prop that's dinged and out of pitch, you've lost 10% of your speed but are still using the same amount of fuel. That converts to a 10% loss in fuel economy.

5. Clean the boat's bottom: A fouled bottom is like a dull knife; it takes a lot more effort - fuel - to push it through the water. Barnacles and slime slow the boat dramatically and increase fuel consumption.

6. Keep the boat in trim: Either by using trim tabs or with weight distribution.  A boat that is trimmed correctly will move through the water with less effort - and less fuel.

7. Install a fuel flow meter: A fuel flow meter is like a heart monitor; when consumption starts to rise, it's an early warning that something is amiss.  A fuel flow meter also allows you to select a comfortable cruising speed that optimizes the amount of fuel being consumed. If you don't want to spring  for a fuel flow meter (about $300), you can calculate your fuel mileage by dividing distance traveled by gallons at fill-up. Using your logbook, you can then approximate fuel flow using average speeds and time underway.

8. For sailboats only: If you own a sailboat, all of the above apply, but the real savings begin when the engine is shut off and the sails are raised.

9. Get a discount: Many of the 750 BoatU.S. Cooperating Marinas around the country offer up to 10 cents off a gallon of gas. Visit http://www.BoatUS.com for more information.

10.  Pass the Hat: Stand up comic and BoatU.S. Magazine humor columnist Cap'n Drew has this sage advice: "You can always drop anchor just outside the gas dock, and sit there staring at the pump, sighing wistfully.  Your guests will get the hint."

“Many people don’t realize just how helpful these tips can be,” said Lt. Erica Shipman of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Police Division. “Over time, boaters can really save gas and money.”

For more information on Alabama’s boating laws and regulations, visit the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Web site at www.outdooralabama.com.


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