SAVING FUEL ON THE WATER   Leave a comment

The price of fuel fluctuates each year.  It is never cheap and probably never will be again.  It is important to look for those little things that can improve fuel economy on the water. 

The good old days of cruising around are gone.  It is important to plan ones trip on the water.  Know where you are going, be it a favorite honey hole that house that big bass, or just a scenic sport to watch the sunset.  With the GPS we can travel great distances across water in a direct line.  This cuts down the time used operating the motor and consuming fuel. 

Your choice of prop for an outboard effects engine performance and fuel consumption.  The folks at Yamaha point out that they often find customers often do not have a prop that offers peak performance for the kind of boating they plan to do.  The best way to ensure economy and performance is to prep the boat for the normal load and boating conditions. 

One can add up the normal weight that will be on the boat.  Include the number of passengers, coolers, full fuel tanks and other gear.  Take that weight figure to the local dealer and he can figure the appropriate prop for the boat.  Test the prop he recommends under actual boating conditions.  See if the boat can reach maximum rpm without exceeding it at full throttle. 

According to Yamaha, if the peak rpm is consistent with wide-open throttle operation, the boat will also deliver its best performance and fuel consumption under the same load conditions.  If use the boat for different purposes then perhaps it would be wise to have a different prop for different conditions. 

During use, we all manage to get dents and dings in our props.  These dents can easily rob you of up to 10% in fuel costs.  A prop specialist may be able to fix the damage or the prop may need to be replaced. 

Other boat maintenance is also important to conserving fuel.  A clean boat moves through water much more efficiently than does one coated with algae.  Inspect the entire hull area.  If it is out of the water use the opportunity to coat the craft with a good marine wax.  The wax reduces the drag when the boat is moving across the water. 

Balancing the weight being carried will allow the boat to ride level and use the power more efficiently.  It is wise to take a minimum amount of gear on any boating trip. One can experiment with the placement of gear to gain the best ride.  Do not put water in a live well until it is needed.  A gallon of water adds about 7.5 pounds of weight to the boat.  More weight requires more fuel. 

If your boat does not already have one, invest in a fuel flow meter.   It shows the fuel flow and the amount of fuel you have used.  When consumption begins to rise, it is an early warning sign that something is wrong.  The fuel flow meter also allows you to choose a comfortable cruising speed that optimizes the amount of fuel you are using.

 Finally, running and gunning from one fishing location to another may look great on television but it is hard on fuel economy.  Plan to fish closer to launch locations and make effective use of the “sweet spot” for your engine.  That is the spot with the throttle that provides the best fuel economy.  One BASS pro told me that he can save as much as $25 per day in gas by paying attention to the sweet spot. 

The recreation angler can also save by fishing longer in promising locations.  A fish that is there might not bite at 9 in the morning but might at 10 according a fisheries biologist with whom I spoke recently.  He recommended taking time and going back over once covered water.  On windy days one can also drift and not use any fuel.

 It is important to tune up your motor at the beginning of the season.  Over the course of the summer it will probably pay for itself in fuel savings.


Posted 03/09/2011 by Donald Gasaway in Boats, Freshwater Fishing

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