Archive for the ‘Gas Prices’ Category
Earlier this week, we provided a few simple suggestions to aid boat owners in a financial pickle. It’s amazing to consider how much money the average boater could save by just cutting down slightly on fuel costs. Recognizing that not everyone has the resources or the patience to conduct thorough tests to find a boat’s “sweet spot,” it’s time to highlight a technological innovation that does the job for you.
Just as most modern cars are equipped with a meter that tells the driver how many miles’ worth of fuel is left in the tank, a fuel flow meter can prove helpful in boats. As its name suggests, the meter measures the flow of fuel from the tank to the marine engine itself. That measurement shows up on the instrument panel in terms of gallons per hour. From there, the meter can extrapolate miles per gallon.
More than anything, a fuel flow meter works as an indicator of what improvements could be made to the boat. If your gallons per hour begins to increase, you can infer that something is wrong with the load on the boat, the throttle position, or that you’re going too fast. Stock up on plenty of Yamaha 2m oil, but take note when that supply begins to dwindle at an abnormally quick rate. Even with the help of a fuel flow meter, you’ll need to do some tinkering to truly streamline efficiency.
Gas prices may be on the decline, but so is the economy. It’s important to watch your fuel intake, and save every penny you can, especially when it comes to gas-guzzling outboard motors. All hope is not lost, though – here are some tips to save fuel when you’re out boating, according to the Boat Owner’s Association of the U.S.:
1. Leave the junk at home: Piles of excess weight will increase the amount of fuel burned per hour. Cleaning out 100 pounds of junk from your car will give you up to two percent more miles per gallon – so imagine what it’ll do for your boat.
2. Decrease the water weight: Don’t keep the water in the tank topped off if you’re only going out for the afternoon. At 8.33 pounds per gallon, it can really weigh the boat down.
3. Tune up: A tune-up and new outboard motor oil will get your boat running more effectively.
4. Tune your prop: A dinged prop will slow your boat down and use more fuel.
5. A fresh coat of paint: Paint the bottom of the boat. It takes a lot more fuel to push a dirty, chipped boat through the water versus one with a sleek new paint job.
6. Keep the boat in trim: Using trim tabs or distributing weight evenly will help you move your boat through the water more easily and with less fuel consumption.
7. Watch the tide: Check tide tables, and try to travel with the tide whenever possible.
8. Use a fuel flow meter: If fuel consumption begins to rise, it’s an early sign that something is wrong.
Oil futures are trading higher today than expected after Hurricane Gustav moved through Louisiana, though they did fall to about $108 a barrel this morning. The majority of New Orleans levees held strong and the hurricane missed vital areas where oil refineries are located, though it did pass through a zone where many oil and gas-producing rigs are located and the LOOP (Louisiana Offshore Oil Port), which is an important facility where ships deliver crude oil, heating oil and gasoline. There has been some visual damage to the facilities, but the extent of the damage is not yet known. (LOOP’s website indicates that it is not operating at this time in a message posted on August 30.) At the present time, 25% of United States crude oil production has ceased and inventory levels are expected to decline until production can be brought back to typical levels.
With two new hurricanes suddenly in the mix, this week’s bulk oil prices look more uncertain. Hurricane Hanna looks to be headed toward the East Coast of the U.S., while Hurricane Ike may be headed toward the Gulf. The best-case scenario is that both hurricanes will reduce the number of ships heading toward LOOP. The worst-case scenario is that Hurricane Ike could delay repair from Gustav’s effects and postpone normal oil production. At any rate, oil and gas prices are bound to be erratic and hard to predict this week.
In these tricky economic times, there are many small ways to cut corners and save a buck or two while still enjoying boating. One is to stagger your boat trip schedule, perhaps alternating weekends rather than going every weekend, trying to go during times when the most family and friends are available to make the most of the experience. Another is to have fellow boaters chip in when buying bulk motor oil, sharing the costs and saving you all money in the long run.
Small things can also make your boat more fuel-efficient. Cleaning the barnacle and plant residue from the bottom of the boat will reduce the friction and allow the boat to move faster without impediments. Remove excess weight from your boat in the form of heavy objects you may not use. Change the oil every 100 operating hours and replace the air filter, which must be clean for the best fuel efficiency. Ease on your acceleration when taking off, which greatly reduces the amount of fuel burned, and idling your engine as little as possible will waste less fuel. Try fuel additives after doing some research. While some fuel additives on the market are not worthwhile, there are a few that are beneficial for your engine’s fuel efficiency. Fuel up in the morning if you can; gas is considered more dense when there is less heat in the air, so in the morning, you can get more fuel for your dollar. And finally, consider investing in a fuel meter or fuel computer if you do not already have one. These devices give you instant feedback on your fuel burning rate, allowing you to make immediate adjustments to improve it if you can.
When choosing between a two-stroke or four-stroke outboard motor for your boat, the features of each must be considered. Two-stroke outboard motors are lighter in weight, less expensive, and often faster. They are generally easier to repair and maintain, having a comparatively simple design that has been available for almost 80 years. Two-stroke outboard motors tend to hold their resale value, remaining in high demand in the used market. On the con side, a two-stroke outboard motor produces more pollution, smoke, are non-two cycle oil injection models, have a rougher idle than their four-stroke counterparts, and are sometimes harder to start.
Four-stroke outboard motors are cleaner, quieter, smoother, provide more fuel economy, and are often more reliable. They are preferred by some boaters who run in lakes and rivers because they are generally accepted at any body of water. They do not run on an oil and gas mixture or generate as much pollution. The negatives of four-stroke outboard motors include their high expense for purchase and repair and heavy bulk, which makes it complicated to transport or position in storage without the help of a stand. Because the design for a four-stroke outboard motor is more complicated than its two-stroke counterpart, there are more parts to malfunction. However, outboard motor production will be either four-stroke or very similar. The technology for the four-stroke outboard motor is always improving, and as time goes on, there is a higher percentage of qualified mechanics to perform any necessary repairs. The current used market is very limited for the four-stroke outboard motor, though this is also growing as technology and training improves.
*Note: this comparison does not include direct fuel-injected two-stroke models.
With the high prices of gas and boat motor oil, more and more people are staying relatively close to home to use their boats, even in areas with no apparent recreational boating water near them. New boats retail from $15,000 to $50,000, which is comparable to other similar leisure pursuits. Boating enthusiasts are willing to drive a couple of hours to get to the destination, where they can fish, waterski, wakeboard, inner tube, or just work on a tan.
A family boating trip allows for more togetherness than the average vacation, where all family members might split up to pursue their own activities, such as golf, shop, or go to a movie. Some family boating trips can coincide with a trip to see other family members, or incorporate camping into the trip for a new twist.
Not unlike the growing popularity of hybrid cars, increasing gas prices are causing boating enthusiasts to think smart.
This year, as boat sales in general seems to have slowed, there has been a 50% growth in electric boat sales. The boats still utilize outboard motor oil, yet they provide relief at waterside gas stations, which generally charge more for gas than roadside gas stations, as there is little in the way of competition.
Once again, the prices of bulk oil have fallen, trading at $133.64 from nearly $140. Gas prices, however, remain around $4.11 per gallon. Though analysts suggest that the sporadic rise and fall of oil means that the previously mentioned breaking price of $150 per barrel will happen, the price jump has been a headache for many Americans, stifling traveling via plane or car; and even affecting the boating industry.
The price of bulk oil dropped today, even at the reports of Hurricane Bertha. The strengthening of the American dollar and the ease of a storm on the Gulf coast has caused oil to tumble down below $136.
Despite this, gas prices are remaining at $4.10 a gallon. Because of these prices there have been a lack of demand for gas, as many Americans have opted to stay home or limit their vacations this year.
As we inch closer to the 4th of July weekend, bulk oil prices are still increasing as supply and demand in the U.S. dwindle. With a weak economy and threat of war in the Middle East, oil and gas prices have been fluctuating for months.
Despite all of these issues, analysts are still claiming that gas and oil prices will slide once a peak (which at press time has been around $143 a barrel) has hit.