7 Simple Tips for Better Boat Fuel Economy

By Tom Keer

Jun 28, 2017

Some boats cost less to run than others.  Here are 7 tips to keep more money in your wallet.

Several years ago, prices at the gas dock soared above $6.00/gallon. My buddies running 25-foot plus boats with twin outboards nearly cried every time they filled up.  Me?  I was thankful that I had a smaller platform. Here are 7 tips to improve your boat fuel comsumption and to save gas in the process.

1. Trailer your boat.  The easiest gas saving tip is to fill your tank at the gas station.  The mark up is less than at the gas dock.  Plus, you'll save on slip or mooring fees.  

2. Tune that engine up!  New fluids, plugs, and filters means your outboard purrs like a kitten. Boat mpg increases, and offsets the cost of the tune up.

3. Four Stroke versus Two Stroke.  If it's time to repower consider a four stroke engine.  Back in the day four strokes were a lot heavier than two strokes, but these days they're closer in weight.  Not only is the boat fuel economy better, but four strokes are also economical and environmentally friendly.
4. Size Does Matter.  Lighter hulls means that boaters need lower horsepower outboards to power them.  Lower horsepower outboards means less boat fuel consumption.  Work boats like Carolina Skiffs don't have liners which reduces their overall hull weight.  The same holds true for jon boats.  A Maritime Skiff offers a good combination as it has a modified vee hull and doesn't have a liner, so performance is good while boat fuel costs are lower.

5. The Need for Speed.  Want to improve boat fuel economy?  Lay off the throttle.  Boat fuel consumption increases with higher speeds and RPMs, so slow it down.  Bring it up on plane and cruise.

6. A clean boat is a happy boat.  Dinged props are less efficient.  Dirty hulls with barnacle add drag.  Boat fuel economy worsens with drag and resistance, so check props and clean your boat, wax or paint hulls.

7.  Match your horsepower to your boat.  One newer trend is to maximize the horsepower on your boat.  That's ok if you don't care about your boat fuel consumption, but if you do then see about going with a lower horsepower outboard.  Keep in mind that being underpowered requires the engine to work harder to push your hull and crew, and that will toss your boat fuel economy out the window.  Find the middle ground and you'll get excellent performance while saving money.

There are lots of other other ways to save gas and that means you'll have more money to buy fishing tackle!  

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.