Paying for gas for your boat is expensive, so it makes sense that you want to get the most for each tank. Luckily, there are things that you can do to get more out of every tank.
How Far Can A Boat Go On A Tank Of Gas?
Your boat may be able to go anywhere from 5 to 10 miles to as many as 30 miles or more on a tank of gas, depending on a number of factors, including what kind of boat you have, how fast you are going, and more.
Iif you’re wondering how far your boat can go on a tank of gas and what you can do to make it more fuel efficient, here’s what you need to know:
There are a number of factors that contribute to how your boat uses gas:
Type of Boat
Perhaps the most critical component to how far your boat can go on a tank of gas is what kind of boat you have. If you want to be low on fuel, you can choose one of the types of boats that tends to conserve it.
Small Personal Watercraft
These are smaller boats that may not go as quickly but won’t consume as much gas either. This is the type of boat that most individual sailors are likely to have. These boats use between 3 and 8 gallons of gas per hour when they are cruising.
This is about the gas consumption that can be expected from small boats like skiffs as well as sailboats.If you have a typical cruising sailboats, this is about the expenditure of gas that you can expect when you are motoring. Of course, if you are sailing as well as motoring, you may have much better mileage.
Faster motor boats can easily use 20 to 30 gallons of gas per hour. Exactly how much they consume depends on conditions, the type of motor boat, and how fast they’re going. In general, fast, large power boats consume the most gas and can be the most expensive to take out for the day.
Length of Boat
Longer boats cut through the water more easily, make better time, and use less gas getting to their destination. The goal is for the hull to be as narrow as possible compared to how long it is.
It can be difficult for a boat to have as narrow a hull as is necessary to make it cut through the water smoothly while at the same time being comfortable to be aboard. For this reason, catamarans and trimararans can sometimes offer better gas mileage while also providing a more comfortable living experience.
The cockpit and cabin that are above the water don’t need to cut through the water, which can enable great gas mileage and a pleasant ride at the same time.
How you Drive
The speed at which you drive your boat has an important impact on gas consumption, as does the way you drive. Just as with cars, frequently stopping and starting, driving erratically, etc, can all make you consume gas faster.
People often don’t think about this when they are enjoying the excitement of handling a powerboat, but it is important to keep in mind that the way you drive will affect your gas mileage in your boat as much as it does in your car. If you want to drive fast and have fun, have a good time, but keep in mind that you may use up gas more rapidly than you estimated.
Wind and Weather Conditions
Anyone who has fought the wind and waves in any kind of craft or even while swimming knows how much harder it is to make headway under these conditions. Therefore, it should be no surprise that if you are fighting the wind and the tide, you won’t make as good of time.
Many people think about this when it comes to the wind being in their face, especially sailors, but people are often too quick to forget about the power of the tide. Fighting a strong tide like the Gulf Stream can have a significant impact on your gas consumption, even on a clear, great day when the wind is in your favor.
If you are fighting into the waves as well, as often occurs when you are fighting the tide, it can be even more challenging for you to make progress. If you are trying to fight too far into the wind on a small craft, you may not make any headway at all.
In open conditions where there isn’t a land area to gauge distance, it may feel like you’re making progress when you actually aren’t. Not surprisingly, this can be a very dangerous situation, as you may find yourself using up all of your gas without going anywhere.
It’s important to monitor your GPS or radar to see whether you are making progress or not. If you are not, you can point at a lower angle to the wind and waves. True, you won’t get to your destination as directly, but keep in mind that if you do not make progress, you won’t get to your destination at all.
Condition of the Bottom and Engine
People who are passionate about their boats are diligent about upkeep, especially when it comes to sails, engines, and the bottom. Lots of people are surprised to learn that bottom paint is one of the most important maintenance tasks of having any kind of boat, but it makes sense when you consider the role that the bottom of your boat has in its speed and fuel conservation.
Boats with good bottom paint without a lot of algae and barnacle buildup cut through the water much more smoothly, which can dramatically improve your speed and the work that your engines and sails need to do to.
Of course, the condition of your engine is also an important factor in how well your boat performs. Engines that are not well taken care of may use fuel left efficiently.
For your boat to use gas as efficiently as possible and make the best time that it can, you will likely find yourself becoming obsessive about engine and bottom maintenance just as much as worrying about the sails.
Tips for Sailors to Improve Gas Mileage
Some purest sailors don’t even keep a motor on their boat, but for most cruising sailors, this simply isn’t realistic. There are times when you need to get where you’re going and cannot wait on wind conditions to be favorable to get you there.
However, most sailors have chosen a sailboat instead of a powerboat, at least in part, to free themselves of a dependence on gas. Even if you have an engine on board, there’s a lot that you can do to use it as little as possible and to make the most of the gas when you do use it. Here are some tips to help:
Set Your Schedule Loosely
If you have set up your cruise such that you need to be in specific places at specific times, you will need to engine more often. When conditions aren’t your favor, you’ll find yourself using the engine.
You may also motor at times when you’re not sailing fast enough to get where you need to go. The more wiggle room you leave in your schedule, the less gas you’ll find yourself consuming.
Motor Sail Wisely
Using the sail to add to your speed can be a great way to reduce gas while still making good time. However, it can also be a gas consumption sink. Allowing your sails to luff while you are under motor sail can actually detract from your engine’s capacity to do its job.
If you are cutting too far of tack to avoid having your sails luff, you may unintentionally be covering much more ground than necessary, which will increase your consumption of gas more than if you had simply motores directly to your destination and foregone the sails.
Sometimes using the sail to help the motors is an effective strategy. At other times, it can lead to problems. Knowing the difference between when is the right time to use your sails along with your motor and when it isn’t will help you make better use of your gas.
Avoid Rough Conditions
Many sailors use the motor when conditions are not favorable to sailing. However, when conditions are very unfavorable, it may be best not to go on that day at all.
One of the challenging aspects of being a sailor is knowing when to try the weather and when it’s best just to sit tight. Fighting against the waves with your motor can easily waste a lot of gas, as well as being a decidedly uncomfortable ride.
If you do decide to use your motors to fight the waves, tack against the waves in a similar way as if you were sailing. This tactic will help to reduce the degree to which you need to fight directly against the waves to go in the direction that you want to go, making a smoother ride for you and a more efficient one for your engine.
Make the Most of Your Gas
There is a lot that a sailor can do to extend a tank of gas. If you’re patient, plan carefully, and take great care of your boat, you will likely find that you can go a long way on each tank of gas.