We in the good old USA are once again getting the shaft at the gas pumps and as always it is due to out of control federal government and corporate bureaucracies. So much for stating the obvious!

It is going to cost us more to go boating this year, so we must do everything practical to cut our fuel cost down and stop wasting it wherever possible. Boats US came out with some good ideas recently and I would like to pass a few of them along to you. I also checked with a couple local boat repair shops and they had some good suggestions too.

In your initial preparations, the best way to start is by tuning up your engine. A once a year tune-up and service will help your engine run more efficiently and save on fuel cost.

Next is regarding your boat prop and some important points to check, or have checked, before you get out on the water.

First would be to match the boat's prop to the boat and activity you enjoy. Propellers are most efficient when they are matched to the kind of boat you have and what you use it for such as towing water skiers, fishing and so on. The best way to approach this is to ask the pros at a propeller shop for recommendations and experiment with different models if necessary. The right prop can potentially increase fuel efficiency by as much as ten percent.

While I am on props lets take a look at something else that can be helped by the proper prop. Take your boat out on a calm day and run wide-open throttle (WOT). The WOT rating is the RPM range the motor should achieve when running at wide open throttle. If it’s not able to reach WOT, or overruns it, you’ve got the wrong prop and you’re not getting the best performance out of your rig and out of your fuel dollar.

Still on props, be sure to check for propeller damage throughout the season, a good time is when you are getting ready to go out or at the boat launch before you put your boat in the water. A dinged or broken propeller will hurt your fuel economy and possibly cause damage to your lower unit, so regularly inspect your prop and replace it if it’s damaged.

You might consider installing a fuel-flow meter, which can show you in real time how many gallons per hour your engine is burning, and allow you to dial in the most efficient speed for your boat.

Most recreational boats that visit our lakes are refueled at roadside gas stations and other retailers. It may be wise to look into any possible retailer’s customer loyalty or “cash back” programs they may have. Just read the fine print on how your discount is delivered to make sure it is usable for you. Your credit card company or grocery store may also offer a percentage-based “cash back” program on fuel. It is all worth looking into.

Before you leave the house take stock of what extra stuff is in your boat that you may not need. Any additional weight means more drag, so clean out anything you will not need, from extra anchors to old, unused lines and tools. Of course this does not include safety gear or necessary ground tackle. For those unfamiliar with the nautical noun “ground tackle” it is all the parts of an anchor package between the boat and the anchor.

Lighten your tanks. Do not run with a full freshwater or fuel tank unless you absolutely need it. Water weighs eight pounds per gallon, so emptying what you don't need can add up quickly. Gasoline weighs six pounds per gallon, so if you do not need a full tank for the day's planned activities lighten your load and bring less.

Another way to help stretch your fuel dollar is to avoid excess idling. It is a common misconception that engines need time to warm up. Modern engines are fuel injected, so when you start them, they are ready to go in just a minute or two.

Once you are on the water rearrange your load evenly and that includes passengers. Evenly distributing the load aboard your boat is the simplest way to help your boat run most efficiently when the boat Is trimmed, which is roughly parallel to its at-rest waterline and not leaning too far to one side or the other.

A good practice to get into is to get on plane as soon as practical once you start out to get from point to point in your outing. Recreational boats run to the highest degree of efficiency when they are on plane. Once you’re out of the no-wake zone, safely get on plane as soon as you can. If your boat has trim tabs, experiment with the up/down switch to find the sweet spot where your boat moves most efficiently and achieves the best trim.

So folks, to save some fuel cost on your next boating outing paying attention to some small things may save you some fuel dollars.

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