Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fuel Economy - Part 1 - The Basics

“The Basics”

No matter if you boat on Lake Wallenpaupack, The Chesapeake, The Jersey Shore or Lake Mead, I’m sure you have at least some interest in making or keeping your boat as fuel efficient as possible. I mean, unless you like wasting your hard earned money, why not do things – some very simple – to help save a few bucks? That’s what this first Fuel Economy segment is going to be about – simple things you can do that cost little to no money.

Now, by no means do I consider myself an “expert” on fuel economy; heck, I like to “throttle down” on occasion as much as the next guy! But, there are some very easy things that we can all do to help keep a little extra green in our pockets. Below you will see what I consider the “basics”. If there is anything you’d like to add, please feel free to add a comment or two! In future segments, I will talk about the actual running and operation of the boat.

Dead Weight
Ever notice your boat goes faster with just you in it? Well, the same thing holds true for all of that extra “stuff” we all like to carry on board. The more weight in the boat, the more gas it’s going to take to get it – and keep it – going. So, take a good luck at what you have on your boat. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If you can do without it, leave it on land. Every little bit helps.

Is your bottom clean?
The efficiency of a boat depends largely on its’ hull. If your boat sits in the water (let’s refer to non-bottom painted boats, for now), whether fresh or salt, things will grow on it. This can create an incredible amount of drag – it’s like trying to drive your car with one foot on the brake pedal. So, if your bottom is dirty, wipe it! Have it hauled out every so often (it’s even easier if you have a trailer) and clean it. Even if it doesn’t sit in the water, road grime can build up on it from trailering. When you wash the topside, don’t forget to wash the underside, as well.

There’s another side to the hull efficiency theme. I’ve run many boats and I can tell you that there is a real science to the engineering that goes into the design of a hull. Take two similar boats from two different manufacturers and put the same engine in them. They will not achieve the same efficiency. Some companies just slap a boat together and throw it out there for sale. Others will really take steps (sometimes painstakingly) to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. Trust me, it does make a noticeable difference – in performance, as well.

So there you have it. Let’s call it food for thought. Look for another segment to Fuel Economy in the near future about the actual operation of the boat and maintenance. But, in the meantime, if you have anything to add in regards to the “basics”, please don’t hesitate to comment. I’m sure there are many of you out there with great suggestions!

Bookmark and Share


Anonymous said...

Hi Dennis, What about waxing the bottom of your boat? Does that also help with fuel economy? I waxed the bottom one year and was not sure if it made a difference. Also like my car there is an air cleaner. Should I change that on my boat too? Thanks, CLJ

Dennis Galligani said...

Hey CLJ,

Yes, waxing can certainly help, although it's not going to be a "night and day" difference. Besides, the wax will not last very long at all. In my opinion, it's a lot of back-breaking work for minimal gains.

You don't mention what type of engine you have, but if you have an I/O, you will have a "flame arrestor" mounted right on top of the engine. That can be taken off and cleaned - not replaced.