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Motor Boat Fuel Efficiency

With the loss of marine red diesel derogation to UK leisure boat owners from the 1st November ‘08 and marine fuel reaching all time highs this year, here are a few boat fuel efficiency tips to ensure you continue to spend more time on the water than alongside the fuel pontoon!

Engine Maintenance

Any inefficient engine will consume more fuel. Ensure planned maintenance is performing as per manufacturer’s advice. Leaking oil, unusual odour when running, unfamiliar noises or is producing black or white smoke, then get it repaired. The savings over the long term should normally outweigh the initial cost.

Eco Speed

Slow down to an economic speed recommended by the boat builder. Cruising at an eco speed can drastically reduce boat fuel consumption when compared with travelling at full throttle throughout your journey.


Over long distances extra miles can be added unintentionally to a journey's total by poor navigational planning or steering. Investing in an autopilot to take control of navigation and steering can keep you on track to save more fuel. Controls can be adjusted to compensate for various sea conditions.

Ballast and Fuel Reserves

The heavier the boat the more fuel it is likely to burn. On short trips consider filling your fuel and water tanks partially, reducing weight and increasing boat fuel efficiency. Boat owners should plan marine refuelling for trip in advance. Also, leave any supplies and boat equipment which you're not intending to use on the journey ashore- they can also add unnecessary weight.

The Hull - Clean and Paint

Water friction or water-drag on the hull needs to be kept to a minimum. Remove seaweed, barnacles, etc when the boat is laid up. Then apply smooth antifouling paint to reduce the effects of further fouling on the hull.
For mega yachts it may even be cost effective to have the hull polished by a diving team whilst at anchor before a long passage.

Weight Distribution

Distributed weight around the boat correctly could improve the propeller and hull performance, particularly in displacement boats which aids steering the boat more directly through the water.

The Elements: Tides

Taking advantage of tidal currents or simply the current will save marine fuel costs. Boating against the tide requires a far greater effort from your boat's engine, than if you're travelling with the tide. Use the Wind: Whilst it may not be immediately apparent wind resistance is causing increased fuel consumption. Ensure you have up-to-the-minute tidal info and obtain weather forecasts from services such as www.movingweather.comScience Articles, one of many services that can provide additional benefits such as sailing with the elements.

Keep A Log

With the loss of UK red diesel derogation boat owners will need some log of fuel purchased. Why not incorporate that into an engine log and monitor the results of these fuel efficiency tips.

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Keith McGregor is a partner of Strawberrysoup, a web design agency with offices in Chichester and Bournemouth. Strawberrysoup specialise in creative web design, content managed websites, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing and graphic design

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