Former, 1970s-era Toronto Blue Jays ballplayer Sam Ewing once said, “inflation is when you pay 15 dollars for the 10-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair.”
Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided for the most part, the attention of most has turned to the rising cost of everything — notably fuel.
Many boatowners are cringing as they compare the price of refueling their tanks this year versus past seasons. In many cases throughout Atlantic Canada, the price of gasoline and diesel has nearly doubled.
So, unless you want to stay tied up to the dock all summer, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of a tank of fuel.
Before even heading out on your bay or lake, according to Geico.com, there are some simple things you can do to improve fuel efficiency.
- Tune your engine. Take your engine to the shop once a year for a tune-up and service, which helps it run more efficiently.
- Get the right propeller for your boat. The right propeller can improve your fuel efficiency by as much as 10 per cent. And be sure to check it for dings, damage or marine growth.
- Clean your hull. Marine growth can create drag on the hull and make the engine work harder.
- Measure your fuel flow. Install a fuel-flow meter, which can show you in real time how many gallons per hour your engine is burning.
- Upgrade your motor. Newer engines tend to be significantly more efficient.
- Ditch extra stuff. Additional weight means more drag, so clean out anything you won’t need.
- Lighten your tanks. Remember, water weighs eight pounds per gallon and gasoline weighs six pounds per gallon. Only take what you need.
- Avoid excess idling. Modern engines are fuel injected, so when you start them, they’re ready to go in a minute or two.
Now that the dockside adjustments are made and you are ready to head out for a day of sailing, there are still things you can do to improve your overall fuel efficiency.
Rearrange your passengers. Your boat engine will run most efficiently when the boat is properly trimmed, roughly parallel to its at-rest waterline and it’s not leaning too far to one side or the other. If it’s safe, ask your passengers to move so the weight is evenly distributed — it will make a big difference.
Reduce wind drag as much as possible. A canvas or Bimini top is great for protection from the sun, but you can improve fuel efficiency while underway by taking it down if you can.
When moving, get on plane as quickly as possible. Most recreational boats run most efficiently when they’re on plane, so once you’re out of the no-wake zone, get on plane as soon as you can.
Plan a shorter trip. The ultimate trick to saving fuel, of course, is running your engine less. Travel to closer destinations or drop anchor somewhere nearer to home to enjoy your day on the water.
By implementing a few of these simple tips, you can still enjoy your boat and hopefully save a few bucks on fuel in the process.