April 24, 2009
Fuel efficiency tips offered to boaters
If you’ve thought about trading in your powerboat for something more economical like a rowboat, don’t give up yet. Despite recent economic issues around the nation, you can still keep the engines running with fuel-saving tips from boater education officials with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
- Lighten up. Gas weighs 6.1 pounds per gallon; diesel, 7.1 pounds; and water, a hefty 8.3 pounds. While it's important to follow the 3-3-3 rule for fuel supply (one-third to get there, one-third to get back and one-third for emergencies), you may not need to fill all fuel tanks to the brim. Leave water tanks half-full if you're just going out for the day. Don't overload your boat with people or gear, and distribute weight evenly.
- Most people trailer their boats, so think about fuel consumption on your vehicle. Have tires inflated properly on the trailer and vehicle. This will make a significant difference.
- When pulling your boat by trailer, fill up at gas stations rather than marinas when possible. Fuel at marinas is much more expensive.
- If purchasing an outboard engine think about four-cycle engines, which use 40 percent less fuel than the conventional two-cycle outboard engine and they do not use outboard motor oil.
- Keep your engine well tuned. The average marine gasoline engine can log 1,500 hours before needing a major overhaul, while a diesel engine can log 5,000 hours. If you're not a mechanic, find one you trust who is willing either to teach you the basics of engine tuning or do the job for you.
- Make sure your propeller is right for your boat, and repair or replace it if it's damaged. According to boating safety specialists, if a propeller is dinged or out of pitch, it does not matter how well the engine runs—the engine will still use more gas than it should. Have an expert check your propeller to make sure it is properly tuned.
- Slow down and keep a log to monitor at which rpm your engine performs best. Calculate fuel mileage by dividing distance traveled by gallons when filling.
- Consider installing a fuel-flow meter. Investing in a fuel-flow meter to monitor consumption, showing not only how much fuel has been used, but how fast the boat is using it, helps you find the most efficient cruising rpm. Installing trim tabs on a planing hull can also improve fuel consumption.
- Keep your boat's bottom clean. Even a slightly dirty bottom can keep your boat from planing or, on a displacement hull, can slow it down dramatically.
- Get your boat up to plane quickly and smoothly, and then throttle back to cruising speed. The fewer turns you make the less motor load you'll have.
- Use a GPS and charts to get where you are going. If you have a trolling motor, use that instead of the big one if you have to travel just a few hundred feet.
DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.