Dear fuel! The tricks to save gasoline (and sail more)

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How to consume less gasoline with the boat? In these days when high fuel prices are making themselves felt on the roads, the thought cannot but extend to boats as well. The chronicle has told us of fishing boats that have been stopped precisely because of this. Drastic choice, but boats, yes you know, need a lot of energy to move. And thus, in most cases, of much fuel. Certainly, with gasoline (and diesel) in record numbers, optimizing navigation can certainly be beneficial. Today we look at some good rules for not wasting gasoline and consuming less.

How to consume less gasoline

How to consume less fuel, then, when sailing? There are many aspects to take into consideration, and they involve more than just boat steering techniques. Reflection starts from elements such as:

  • state of care of the hull: the more vegetation I have, the less efficient my living work will be.
  • The choice of an appropriate engine for the boat. An undersized engine leads us to make it work harder (with more gasoline expenditure), as does a suboptimal installation or an ill-proportioned propeller.
  • In navigation, the distribution and amount of weight we have on board. Use of trim, use of flaps, gait.

So let’s look at some practical tips for saving fuel by boat.

How to consume less gasoline – Hull care status

Fairing is certainly not just a matter of aesthetics, but more importantly practical. The cleaner my hull is, the more efficient it will be and able to reach optimal speed with the least possible consumption. The efficiency of the living work, regardless of the hull design, comes first from its maintenance. In this sense, it is also helpful to choose the right antifouling (depending on the type of boat and its).


How to consume less gasoline – Engine choice and sealing

If you have yet to buy the boat, be sure to choose a motor commensurate with the weight. This, in addition to being important from a safety point of view, is also good for consumption. This is because the engine will struggle less and you will have a more comfortable cruising speed with less fatigue. Of course, choosing a more powerful engine means a higher cost at the time of purchase.

Likewise, also remember to do proper maintenance, meeting the manufacturer’s recommended deadlines. A well-maintained engine is definitely more efficient than a neglected one.


How to consume less gasoline – Navigation

Now we come to the aspect, for many, that is most salient. How to save fuel by sailing “smart”. The main tools are trim, flaps and more “appropriate” gait according to weather conditions. In general, regardless of the boat, if I have contrary and formed seas, it might be more advantageous to follow a course that allows me to proceed more linearly instead of pointing the wave starboard by starboard. This route is not always the shortest, but the important thing is to put the sea at the jaw, while if at the stern at the yard(read here how to sail in rough seas).


How to consume less gasoline – Displacement boats

We now distinguish between displacement and planing.

The former(displacement) ones are the easiest to steer and are better adapted to all sea conditions. In the case of a wave, for example, a slower speed is certainly more comfortable and allows less violent impact with the waves. In this situation, an attempt will be made to adjust the gait to a sustained cruising speed, but without exceeding the limits suggested by the engine manufacturer. It should be kept in mind, however, that with this type of boat, to gain just one knot of speed, much more fuel is consumed. An eye on fuel consumption and speed will be helpful in recommending more conservative paces if necessary.

Beneteau Grand Trawler 62
Beneteau Grand Trawler 62

How to consume less gasoline – Planing boats

The second(planing) ones have higher top speeds and quite different engines. To achieve the best results and the highest degree of comfort, it is necessary to consider two basic parameters: load arrangement and trim and flap attitude adjustment. How to save fuel?

Suzuki Keyless Start System

The first assessment to make is to figure out what is the most appropriate “economical” cruising speed. As with cars, maintaining a constant speed without sudden acceleration is the first way to optimize fuel economy. Technology today helps us in this regard. Outboard engines such as Honda and Suzuki have intelligent systems that use a probe to automatically (every second) manage the mixture of air and gasoline in the engine. In this way they maintain “lean” carburetion by automatically burning more (or less) air depending on sailing conditions. The more stable the navigation, the more the technology can fulfill its potential.

In addition to this another valuable help comes to us from flaps, intruder and trim.


How to consume less gasoline – Flap and Intruder

What are flaps? They are hydrodynamic appendages (i.e., working only with flow movement) that can generate a buoyancy that operates perpendicular to the fluid surface. The proper use of flaps provides many benefits starting with the pleasure of sailing. Consumption is optimized and unnecessary stress on the boat is avoided.

Advantages and disadvantages flap
Advantages and disadvantages of flaps

Slightly angled flaps: by slightly lowering the flaps at medium gaits, you can keep the hull in perfect glide, and by “playing” with the throttle, you can reduce the rpm to optimize fuel economy.

Applications of flaps
Applications of flaps

Intruder

The evolution of flaps are intruders. What are they? They are actually a system that is installed at the stern of the boat, with a panel and blades that maintain the trim automatically, thanks to software. In this way we can keep our hull buoyant at all times even when, especially on small boats, people are not arranged symmetrically or the load is “misplaced.” They also help the boat enter the glide sooner. This helps to reduce fuel consumption. To learn more, click here.


How to consume less gasoline – Trim

The word trimming is often used to refer to adjusting the trim of the boat while sailing. The best adjustment is when the rudder is light and lightly stressed and the hull sails as if on a cushion of air. In this situation, in addition to improving on-board comfort, fuel consumption is optimized.

trim adjustment
trim adjustment

The trim of the boat is a function of the angle of inclination of the engine, the arrangement of weights on board, and finally the use of trims. There are three positions that change the setup: Neutral, Up and Down. By changing the angle at which the engine is tilted, the wetted surface of the boat under sail is thus changed, and consequently so is the resistance. By finding the right balance between engine inclination, wet surface, weights and power you will get maximum performance from the boat.


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