I like to spend my money on lures, rods, guns, ammo and not gasoline. Naturally this go juice is a fact of our daily lives – and besides, care and pickup are hard to push.
This column is dedicated to money saving tips that will make boating more economical. Fuel prices may go up to $4 per gallon by summer, meaning you should get more out of each tank of gas. Boat Owners Association of The United States (Boat U.S.) has a few tips that could help stretch your fuel dollars:
• Leave the extra “junk” home: Don't load the boat up with weight you don't need. Do a little spring cleaning – unused equipment that has been collecting mildew in the bottom of lockers for years should be taken home.
• Water weight: At 8.33 pounds per gallon, why keep the water in the tank topped off if you're only going out for the afternoon?
• Tune her up: A tune-up is an excellent investment and should easily pay for itself over the summer.
• Tune your prop: You can lose up to 5 mph of boat speed with a poorly tuned prop. If your boat goes 50 mph with a like-new prop and only 45 mph with a prop that's dinged and out of pitch, you've lost 10 percent of your speed but are still using the same amount of fuel. That converts to a 10 percent loss in fuel economy.
• Clean the boat's bottom: A fouled bottom is like a dull knife; it takes a lot more effort – and fuel – to push it through the water. Barnacles and slime slow the boat dramatically and increase fuel consumption.
• Keep the boat in trim: Either by using trim tabs or with weight distribution. A boat that is trimmed correctly will move through the water with less effort.
• Go with the flow: Consult tide tables and whenever possible try to travel with the tide.
• Install a fuel flow meter: A fuel flow meter is like a heart monitor; when consumption starts to rise, it's an early warning that something is amiss. A fuel flow meter also allows you to select a comfortable cruising speed that optimizes the amount of fuel being consumed. If you don't want to spring for a fuel flow meter (about $300), you can calculate your fuel mileage by dividing distance traveled by gallons at fill-up. Using your logbook, you can then approximate fuel flow using average speeds and time underway.
• For sailboats only: If you own a sailboat, all of the above apply, but the real savings begin when the engine is shut off and the sails are raised.
Finally, here are some tips that may avoid you getting hit in the nose.
When launching your vessel at a boat ramp, does it seem like the whole world is watching your every move? In the June 2005 issue of Boat
U.S. Trailering magazine, Chapman's Boating Etiquette author Pat Piper offers 10 tips for happier boating:
• Prior to backing down the ramp, have everything that needs to be transferred from the tow vehicle placed in the boat. Trailer boaters who wait until their vessel is in the water cause delays and get nasty stares.
• Concrete and fiberglass don't mix. Unhook the boat from the winch after the vessel is in the water, not before. Once your boat is splashed, have your crew secure it to the dock while you park your tow vehicle and trailer, leaving the ramp open for the next launch.
• Don't make others wait while you're having a discussion with your crew on where to go or else those waiting in line behind you will happily offer suggestions.
• Offer assistance if someone needs help. If you have never backed down a ramp, practice in a large parking lot prior to launching.
• If you're on the ramp and would like help, be succinct. This is not the time to ask questions about bleeding the brakes or to debate the advantages of bias ply tires.
• Trailer parking spaces are for vehicles and trailers only. Guests should park elsewhere.
• Get into a routine at the ramp and use a checklist. It will make your life easier.
• When returning to a ramp, drop off the person who will get the tow vehicle and trailer from the parking lot first and wait for them in an out-of-the-way location while they retrieve the vehicle.
• Once the boat is on the trailer, secure safety chain to the bow eye and move up the ramp. Secure the remaining tie downs and transfer stuff back to the tow vehicle when you get to the parking lot – not on the ramp.
• If you'd like to talk to other boaters about launch ramp etiquette, your experiences at boat ramps or other boating related issues, go to the message’s boards at BoatUS.com
– Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com.