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Seven Tips for Improving Your Boat's Fuel Efficiency

Reprinted with permission from Ritz Interactive, Inc.

Today's higher prices for diesel and gasoline make squeezing the most out of every drop of fuel more important than ever. Besides the money-saving factor, you'll want to ensure that you have maximum range capability each time you fill up your tank. So what steps can you take to optimize the fuel efficiency of your boat and motor?

Here are some useful tips:

  1. Run Mean & Lean
    Lighten the load whenever possible by taking along only essential gear and supplies. If you're going on a one-day offshore trip, don't pack enough gear and supplies onboard for a six-day cruise. By limiting the amount of rods and reels, tackle boxes, ice chests and the like, you'll reduce the weight and drag of your vessel significantly. Not only will you burn less fuel, you should experience notable improvements in handling and performance as well.
  2. Distribute Weight Evenly
    In addition to reducing the weight of your craft by eliminating unnecessary equipment and excess "baggage," distributing onboard gear evenly will also help you get more out of every gallon. If your boat is listing to one side or the bow is weighted down due to improper placement of onboard gear, your fuel efficiency will suffer. Instead, see that all onboard equipment and accessories are properly distributed and balanced. This will help ensure both a smoother ride and increased mileage.
  3. Put Technology on Your Side
    A quality onboard fuel computer will help you efficiently manage what you have in your tank by supplying accurate, real-time readings of how much fuel you are using at any given moment. This is a highly desirable alternative to the notoriously inaccurate fuel gauges that come standard on many boat models.
  4. Tune Her Up
    Regular engine maintenance and tune-ups will contribute greatly to your boat's overall fuel efficiency. If your motor is not operating the way it should, chances are the system will be working overtime and consuming more fuel. Have a professional marine technician overhaul your engine at least once a year. Also make sure you are running your boat within the RPM range recommended by the manufacturer for optimum fuel efficiency. In addition to proper engine maintenance, check other components of your craft's propulsion system, such as the propeller, for fuel-robbing defects. An improperly sized or bent prop can also contribute to fuel inefficiency.
  5. Time For a Trim
    Installing a quality trim-tab system on your boat will not only improve the ride of your boat, it will help you go farther on a tank of fuel. Trim tabs allow you make necessary adjustments to the way your boat cuts through the water, planes and handles. By Adjusting your trim according to boat speed/load and the current water conditions will help optimize performance and save fuel.
  6. Don't Carry Along Unwelcome Guests
    The hulls of boats kept in the water often have so many "cling-ons," they resemble coral jungles. If you are carrying a small eco-system of algae, barnacles or other marine growth on your hull, you will definitely experience fuel-consuming drag when underway. Regular inspections of your boat's underside, along with the use of anti-fouling paint and anti-fouling cleaners will help prevent unwelcome guests from hitching a ride.
  7. Drain That Water
    The water in your boat's bait tank and live wells can add a surprising amount of weight to your vessel. Instead of heading home at the end of the day lugging along all this extra weight, empty your tanks of unnecessary water (and bait) before making that long run back to the docks. You'll lighten your overall load significantly and get better mileage.
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