How to Lower Your Boating Fuel Costs

When prices at the pump start rising, it’s often boaters who are hit the hardest and the fastest. Not only does it cost more to transport smaller craft with a truck or SUV, but the boats themselves are largely inefficient gas guzzlers when compared to automobiles. As evidence, take the fact that the typical gas tank size for a 20 foot bass boat is in the range of 30 to 50 gallons! That said, there are some measures you can take to try and limit the damage to your wallet when gas prices go up. Use these tips to stay on the water without going broke.

1. Fill up in the morning

fishing boat on waterImagine a scenario: you’re at the marina on a crisp Spring morning, ready for a day of fishing and boating. Though you’re eager to get on the open water, you think it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and fill up now instead of trying to ride out the 1/3 tank you have left. This is the best decision you’ll make all day. As minuscule as it might sound, gas condenses over chilly nights, which means you’ll get more for your money when you fill up in the morning – while that gas is still condensed. The savings may be small individually, but they add up when dealing with large quantities over time. And gassing up a boat counts as a “large quantity” without a doubt.

2. Perform regular maintenance on your boat

The worst gas guzzling boats are typically the ones that get neglected for long periods. You know the boats I’m talking about; the ones smoking on the water in Spring because they haven’t been touched all winter. By keeping up with things like hull cleaning, oil changes, and filter changes, you’ll help your boat running as efficiently as possible.

3. Drive the boat on plane

When you’re cruising beyond the No Wake Zone, hit the throttle just enough to keep the boat up on plane. The reason this saves gas is, of course, pretty obvious. The less of the hull in the water, the less resistance your engine will have to work against. Be careful not to stay on plane when you’re entering No Wake Zones, though, as safety is more important than savings.

4. In idling situations, use a trolling motor

Common mostly in bass boats, trolling motors are typically battery powered propellers that are great for moving short distances. Idling your outboard engine, meanwhile, is about as inefficient as it gets in terms of motor performance. So if you own a reasonably small or mid-sized boat, try affixing a trolling motor for short distance travel instead of wasting gallons of gas by idling.

For the most part, the key to saving on gas when boating lies mostly in the realm of common sense. Much like automobile driving, conservative boating requires mostly that you stay on top of your machine and your own driving habits. With that, you’ll be able to hit the water guilt free – no matter what the digits read on the gas pump.