|Illustration: Jorge Colombo|
Thanks to a steep hike in gas prices, making a long run offshore can wind up setting you back an arm and a leg. Following these five fuel-saving tips can help pad your wallet with some extra dough — giving you all the more reason to hit the water.
* Propped Up — The wrong-size propeller, or a damaged prop, can waste 30 percent or more of your boat fuel. If the prop doesn't develop full-throttle rpms within the range recommended by the manufacturer, fuel efficiency goes out the window. Get a bent or damaged wheel repaired ASAP.
* Make It Sparkle — Dirty or improperly gapped spark plugs can be real fuel thieves. Check them for excessive carbon buildup and worn electrodes regularly. If they are not exactly right, replace them.
* All the Trimmings — Running your boat with the bow trimmed down too far makes it plow and creates extra hull drag. If the bow is too high, the stern will drag, causing you to lose speed. Both waste plenty of fuel. The right trim keeps the hull as "light" as conditions will allow. The tachometer will help you determine this by showing an increase in rpms and speed without changing the throttle setting.
* Worth the Weight — Planing hulls run most efficiently with the greatest amount of the onboard weight aft of the centerline midpoint. Too much weight too far forward will force the bow down and cause the boat to run on more wetted surface, resulting in a loss of speed and less miles per gallon. Keep this in mind as you load big ice chests and other heavy items.
* Common Cents — Don't waste your money on those add-on aftermarket devices that supposedly improve fuel efficiency. Better to spend it on keeping the engine — and boat — as finely tuned and clean as possible.
— Bob Stearns