Everything You Need to Know about Your Boat and Fuel

One of the biggest concerns about owning a boat is the cost of using it. Depending on the size of your vessel, you could end up spending thousands of dollars a month just for fuel. However, the total cost will be based on factors like the size of your motor, how many miles you get per gallon, and the price of gas in your area. If you’re only going out once a month for a three-hour cruise, you can rest easy knowing you won’t spend near as much as if you’re going on a weekend fishing trip that will cover 300 miles. 

How Much Does It Cost to Fill Up a Boat?

The exact cost of how much it will cost to fill up your boat will depend on a couple of factors. First of all, the size of your gas tank. If you’re going out for a day time fishing trip in your johnboat, also known as an aluminum bottom boat, you won’t spend nearly as much as you would if you were filling up your pontoon boat. The more fuel your tank holds, the more you’re going to spend.

Another factor to consider is the cost of fuel in your area. Filling up your boat at a dock or pier is going to cost you a good deal more than if you filled up at the gas station a mile up the road. If you’re taking your boat out of town for a weekend getaway, you may want to do some research to see what the gas prices are in the area you’re visiting. This will help you budget how much money you’ll be spending on fuel. 

Tourist destinations will have higher fuel prices than small towns or even your local gas stations. It’s important to know what the gas prices are before you plan your trip. Budgeting is the best way to make sure you have a fun trip, without having to cut it short because you’re out of money. Trust me, it happens more than you think.

How Much Fuel Does a Boat Use?

Each boat will differ in how much fuel it will use – just like with vehicles. The bigger the boat, or engine, the more fuel you’ll burn in one trip. The length of your trip is also going to play a factor; as does the speed you’ll be maintaining. Most boats get better gas mileage if they are running at near full throttle. But if your boat isn’t running properly, you might burn more than you expect to. And cruising at lower speeds will burn less fuel than wide-open throttle.

boat gas

A two-stroke engine tends to burn more gas than a four-stroke. So it’s important to know what kind of motor you have. You can usually look up the estimated mileage range for your boat by looking it up on the manufacturer’s website. But don’t expect that information to be exact. It’s more of a guideline and your boat might fall below, or above, the average gallons per hour that is suggested.

You can figure out how much fuel you’ll burn per hour, at nearly full throttle, by using a simple formula. Simply take your engine’s horsepower and divide it by 10 if you are using a gas-powered motor. If you have a diesel engine, multiply your horsepower by 0.06. An example would be a 250-horsepower engine, divided by 10, which means you’ll get 25 gallons of gas per hour (250/10=25). Pretty simple huh? 

How Do I Fill My Fuel Tank on My Boat?

Many people think filling up a boat is as simple as filling up a vehicle. But there are a few differences that you should be aware of. One is that the gas tanks on boats are often oddly shaped. This means that your gas gauge might not be very accurate. Instead of relying on your gas gauge, it’s easier to keep track of how much gas you burn per mile using the formula above, so you’ll know how much gas you might need to add during fillup.

You must use care when pumping gas into a boat. The most common complication most boat owners have is that they don’t pay enough attention when putting the nozzle into the boat. A lot of people end up pumping gas into the bilge pump instead. This can be a very costly mistake; especially if you are filling up at a dock rather than a store. They have different procedures for how gas spills are handled.

It’s recommended to use a fuel absorbent cloth to wrap around the mouth of the gas tank while you’re holding the nozzle inside. This prevents splashbacks, which can lead to a spark causing your boat to go up in flames. And never leave the boat filling unattended. The automatic shutoff that prevents spillovers when filling up your vehicle doesn’t work the same way in boats. You could end up pumping a lot more gas than you planned by not paying attention. 

You should never fill your gas tank up to overflowing. There needs to be a little room in the tank for the gas to expand. Once you’re through filling up your boat, you should let the blower run for a good five minutes to remove any fumes that may have collected. Failure to do this can lead to trapped fumes. This can be dangerous, especially if you’ll have open flames in the boat, such as from a lighter.

Can You Leave Fuel in Your Tank in the Winter?

When the weather gets colder, most water lovers put their boats up. Riding on the water in cold temperatures can be a bit miserable for some people. And by some, I do mean myself, of course. Before you put your boat up for the winter, there are some things you’ll need to do. If you don’t properly prepare your boat for storage, you could have problems to contend with once spring rolls around.

fishing boat

You can avoid costly repairs with a few simple preparations. If you live in a climate where the temperatures don’t get too low, such as in the South or on the West Coast, then you might not need to be as concerned about winterizing. However, if you plan to store your boat out in the elements, it’s a good idea to follow these steps. Colder climates necessitate that watercraft be winterized, regardless of storage location. 

How to Winterize Your Boat

The fuel tank is one of the most important things you’ll want to prepare for cold weather. And things have changed over the years from how winterizing was once done. Before you put your boat away for the winter, make sure you?ve filled the gas tank up. This keeps air out of your tank, which can cause condensation, which leads to water in the tank. Water and gas don’t mix and you could face costly repairs to remove the water from your tank come spring. 

You should also change your fuel/water separator. If you don’t already have one, you should have one installed before putting your boat into storage. This separator will help keep your gas pure instead of mixing with H2O. You should also add a marine stabilizer to your fuel. Stabilizers increase gas shelf life, meaning the gas you add into your tank now will still be good to use in six months when you’re ready to get back on the water. Fresh gas, mixed with a stabilizer, can last anywhere from one to three years.

Is it Legal to Tow Your Boat With Fuel in the Tank?

There are no laws against hauling your boat while the fuel tank is full. There are some safety precautions you’ll want to take. And you should check with your state to make sure there aren’t any permits or safety guidelines you might need to follow. It’s often cheaper, and easier to fill your boat up while it’s still on the trailer.

It’s important to know the fuel capacity of your boat before you decide to haul it around. Most of the time, the amount of gas the tank will hold is not as much as the size of the tank. Just because you have a 50-gallon tank doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get 50 gallons into it. It’s dangerous to haul around a boat that has been overfilled with gas. Which can happen if you don’t know the exact size of your tank. 

When filling up your tank, do not rely on your gas gauge. Gas gauges can be unreliable, which can cause you to overfill your gas tank. Not only is overfilling dangerous, but it can cause you to have to pay a hefty fine if you are caught. And do not top your tank off. Fuel will expand in the tank, which is a safety hazard, as well as a source of pollution. 

Boats Can be Expensive – But They’re Fun

The cost of owning a boat can be a bit expensive. But you can make memories with family and friends that are priceless. Knowing your boat’s fuel capacity and how much gas you use per mile can help you set a budget for your trip. This means you can have a worry-free trip without stressing about how much money you’re going to spend. And as always, be safe and follow all state and federal laws.