Adjustments to your boat can make your boat go faster and save you money at the fuel pumps too!
It may sound crazy, but a faster boat may burn far less fuel than a slower boat. However all of this craziness can make sense when several factors are taken into consideration, including hull design, propellers, fuel, additives, power, how gear is loaded on your fishing boat and much more,
What makes more sense, is making your boat more fuel-efficient when both pleasure fishing, and tournament fishing to ease the pain of refueling your powerboat. Fuel is selling as high as $3.00 per gallon at marinas and a little over $2.00 per gallon at most gas stations. Multiply the increased cost of fuel times 200 gallons and your day of fishing could cost you $600.00 at the fuel pumps!
With this in mind, you may see several Southern Kingfish Association tournament teams holding back on their tournament boat’s throttles when blasting off for their favorite kingfish waters. But I wouldn’t count on it!
I would count on more fishermen managing their boat’s consumption of fuel though. And a good way to start is by installing fuel-monitoring gauges. Several marine companies offer a variety of electronics that can accurately calculate the amount of fuel that your engine or engines are burning. FloScan instrument company offers a variety of fuel monitoring gauges, in both dial and digital readouts. Mercury Marine and Yamaha Outboards also offer fuel-monitoring gauges as well.
I recently installed a FloScan series 5500 to monitor the fuel that my high-powered Mercury 250-XS “Racing” Opti-Max was burning. I simply had to know how much fuel I was burning in order to reach our designated tournament waters and return to the tournament weigh-in site without running out of fuel.
Our Triton boat’s fuel tank held 56 gallons and our targeted tournament waters were some 140 miles from the tournament site. By test running our boat before the tournament and monitoring the FloScan gauge, we found that we could run the Mercury Opti-Max at 5,000 rpms and burn a little over 20 gallons per hour. Our boat’s speed at 5,000 rpms was 70mph. Obviously we had plenty of fuel to reach our tournament waters. But to be on the safe side, we re-fueled anyway before heading back to the tournament site!
When re-fueling, the FloScan showed that we had burned 43 gallons and we actually used a little over 41 gallons. These corrections were made by adjustments on the backside of the FloScan, so now when I re-fuel, the FloScan is right on the money.
Ironically on our way back to the tournament site, we came across a tournament boat that was being towed in because they had run out of fuel. I guarantee this would not have happened if they had installed a fuel-monitoring instrument.
More importantly, fuel-monitoring instruments will show boaters when their outboard or outboard motors are running at the most fuel-efficient rpms. For example our Mercury 250 XS Opti Max actually burned way less fuel when running at 4,000 rpms. Here the FloScan showed that we were burning some 15 gallons of fuel per hour and were running 60-miles per hour. So in retrospect, it took us a couple more gallons per hour to run 70-miles per hour. However we knew that we could make it to our tournament waters faster at this speed and still have fuel to spare. At wide open and 5,900 rpms, the FloScan showed that the Mercury was burning some 30 gallons per hour and the boat’s speed was 80 miles per hour.
Fuel monitoring instruments will also tell boaters when their boat is burning more fuel than it normally burns due to fouled spark plugs, or even a clogged fuel filter. Here an increased fuel reading and increased rpms at the same speed, should wave a red flag in front of the operator that something is wrong with his boat’s power. And in many cases, costly repair bills can be avoided by fixing the problem before a major breakdown happens to your boat’s outboard engine.
Don’t buy the cheap stuff!
I know that I was guilty of purchasing lower grade outboard motor oils a long time ago, but soon learned that this could be a very costly mistake down the road. Make sure that you purchase the recommended outboard engine oil and your outboard engine will not only run better, but it will also burn less fuel, which is also a huge saving with the price of fuel today.
Specific outboard motor manufacturers have designed proper outboard engine oils for their marine motors. Taking into consideration the tolerance of engine parts and how oil is mixed with fuel to burn clean, you are really jeopardizing the reliability of your outboard by not using the recommended outboard oil. Inferior oils will not only cause your outboard engine to build up carbon and burn more fuel, but you might just cause your power head to blow, which could be a very costly mistake.
Manufacturer recommended outboard oil often cost a few more dollars per gallon but can save boaters lots of money down the road in the cost of fuel, lost time for break downs and not being able to weigh in a tournament-winning kingfish because your outboard broke down on the way to the weigh-in site!
Filling your boat’s fuel tank with premium grade fuel is also a must when both protecting your outboard engine and actually saving money in fuel burned as well. For example some outboard motor manufactures recommend using 91-octane gas for their outboards. Higher-grade fuels not only boost the power or your outboard engine, but have additives that keep you motor running carbon free. And in some cases, if you do not use the proper grade fuel, this may void your outboard motor’s warranty.
Another fact that most boaters do not realize is that fuel actually loses octane when sitting in a fuel tank for long periods of time. For example, if you fill your boat’s fuel cell with 91-octane gas and don’t use your boat for 30 days, the octane rating may drop down. This happens even faster during the heat of summer.
However if you don’t use your boat for a long period of time, you can add an octane booster to your fuel tank which will raise the octane level back up again.
Another factor in both saving fuel and having your boat run more efficiently, is how you load your fishing boat. If you have a large cooler that is filled with ice, place it at the transom of your fishing boat, instead of the bow. I have often taken the anchor from the anchor locker and stored it in a storage compartment at the transom of my fishing boat to allow the bow of the boat to have more lift.
The results of shifting your boat’s load to the transom, allows your boat’s hull to have more lift and ultimately creating less drag in the water. The bottom line gives your boat more speed and more importantly, uses less fuel.
A good example of this came when my son Terry David Lacoss took part in a boating test. T.D. drove a 2400 Triton bay boat that because of its design to run flat in shallow bays burned just over 20 gallons per hour at a maximum speed of 51mph. While another fishermen tested a Triton TX-21 Bass boat that burned just over 20 gallons per hour at a speed of 71mph. Obviously the bass boat was designed to run faster with a high lift bow and had less hull resistance in the water.
With this in mind, some boat manufacturers design what is called a hook in the hull at the transom that helps the boat run with a flat attitude in the water. Obviously this hull design may well afford for a smoother ride, but also promotes slower speeds and less fuel economy.
Some fishermen will actually file the hook off from the bottom of the boat, to increase their boat’s speed and fuel economy as well.
Running the correct propeller on your outboard is also critical when saving fuel and getting the best performance from your motor. If you are purchasing a new boat, test the boat with several propellers and choose the one that turns the maximum recommended rpms when your boat is fully loaded. If your outboard does not turn the maximum recommended rpms, your outboard engine is not only using more fuel, but is also under a strain as well.
Finally a clean hull is a must to achieve your boat’s best fuel economy and performance. I would also recommend using your fuel monitor to determine how much fuel you will need to for a full day of fishing. A gallon of fuel weighs eight pounds, so if you can hold 100-gallons of fuel in your fuel cell, instead of 200-gallons, you are lightening up your boat by 800-pounds!
Finally a faster, more efficient running boat will use far less fuel than a fishing boat that is loaded improperly and has more hull resistance in the water.
For more information on FloScan products, call 1-880-522-3610, or visit http://www.floscan.com. For Mercury Marine information, call 1-800-mercury or visit http://www.mercurymarine.com. For Yamaha outboards call 1-800-88-yamaha, or visit http://www.yamaha-motor.com.