We boaters are all guilty of carrying too much gear aboard. it accumulates one lure, one ski and one gadget at a time, during months and years of boating. One of the quickest ways to get more miles per gallon is to get the lead out! No, don't leave the dock without tools, spares or safety equipment, and don't go so far as to drink your sundowner neat instead of on the rocks. ... read more But don't stow the fishing gear aboard when the season is over, the water skis and wakeboards when your kids are back at school, and the 12 cases of fizzy stuff here and there "just because." That stuff has got to
go if you want to save more fuel. To prove the point, we loaded the Bluewater with a crew of seven and all the gas and water we could carry. Check the chart below for the dismal results.
Next, we ran the Bluewater "light." We drained the fuel down to 20 gallons. We stripped it of every bit of gear but for required safety equipment — and, yes, discovered we had more on board than we'd need on any three fishing trips. Then we set out with a three-man crew weighing 600 pounds and increased our economy by a whopping 27 percent.
Such a dramatic increase isn't likely in normal use, since few boaters will either strip or weight their rigs to the extremes that we did for testing. Put in terms you can use, we added 1 percent to our cruise-speed efficiency for every 100 pounds we took off the boat. if this boat were run 100 hours a year, we'd save 16 gallons annually for every hundred pounds we didn't carry. If you're shopping for a boat, compare displacement carefully when deciding between models if maximized fuel economy tops your priorities. Ditto for comparing the weights of engines. Hundreds of pounds will cost you hundreds of dollars. Later Craters Also, "a clean, smooth bottom is a real efficiency enhancer," says product manager Karl Sandstrom, a 21-year Evinrude veteran. If you keep your boat at a slip or mooring, use a quality bottom paint. Traditional "hard" paints are effective anti-foulants, but they create a cratered surface after a few years of built-up coats. If your boat's bottom looks like the Sea of Tranquility, break out a scraper, or hire a bead blaster to remove that old cratered paint. Efficiency mavens select ablative
paints, such as Interlux Micron or Pettit Hydrocoat. These wear away, leaving a smooth surface. If your boat has sat idle for a while, it pays to hire a diver to scrub the bottom or to don a mask and fins and do it yourself.
Of course, keeping an engine in top shape counts toward the economy total. Adhere to the maintenance schedule in the owner's manual. Send the prop out for reconditioning if you bend a blade. (Or learn to coax dings back to normal with file, mallet and the judicious application of double-wrenching.) The recipe for maximized efficiency is like stew, rich with many ingredients that add up to something good. Apply the techniques we tested, and watch your fuel gauge move slower and slower and slower. Proving-Ground Procedures Our guinea pig was a 25-foot Bluewater 2550 center console, powered by twin 200 Evinrude E-TEC outboards. Our battery of tests were run in salt water, measuring fuel burn using Evinrude I-Command NMEA 2000 instruments reading directly from the engines' electronic control modules. Speeds were recorded from a Lowrance LCX-26 GPS. All runs were done in two directions, to negate the effects of wind and current.
Dollars and Cents Tallying all gains and losses from the testing done with our Evinrude-powered Bluewater, and extrapolating that data, resulted in these eye-opening, albeit idealized, results based on running 100 hours at 30 mph. Back Off, Burn Less Simple but true: Back off the throttle to burn less fuel. Naturally we don't expect you to troll everywhere, but unless you're in a tournament, are racing to make a bridge opening or have that momentary need for speed that afflicts us all, slow down to save fuel without costing any real time. Check out the 15-mile run
numbers from our Bluewater test boat (shown above). Do You Know It Takes... 2 gallons of crude oil to make 1 gallon of gasoline
26 pounds of corn to make 1 gallon of ethanol
1/2 pound of fuel to make 1 horsepower per hour
1 gallon of gasoline = 6 pounds
1 gallon of diesel = 7 pounds
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