How Much Gas Do Boats Use? (Tricks to Reduce)

One of the crucial questions new boat owners ask is how much gas do boats use. There is no simple answer since every boat type spends a different gas amount per boating hour, depending on its model, size, speed, and many other factors.

For instance, a small watercraft boat will need 3 to 8 gallons per hour at cruising speeds. On the other hand, an average motorboat uses at least 20 to 30 gallons per hour. The best option is to consider all relevant factors and make a precise calculation. Let’s see.

Factors Impacting the Gas Consumption

Most boat types can travel 5 to 30 miles on a tank of gas, but numerous things will affect the final distance you can reach.

Therefore, it is essential to understand how your boat works and recognize factors that impact its fuel consumption. Only that way, you can precisely calculate your budget and enjoy sailing without worries.


1. Average boat MPG

Average boat MPG

The first thing to do when you want to determine the fuel efficiency is to check the average boat MPG (miles per gallon). An average boat will need 1 to 4 gallons per mile at a speed of 20 knots, but many other factors impact gas consumption.

Your best shot is to calculate the boat speed and amount of gallon it spends. For instance, if your boat burns 10 gallons (37.8 l) of fuel per hour while moving 20 nautical miles per hour, it will go approximately 2 miles per gallon.


2. Boat type

Boat type

It is the most critical factor determining fuel consumption since each boat type consumes gas differently.

  • Motorboat

A fast motorboat typically uses 20 to 30 gallons per hour, but the gas consumption will depend on its type, conditions, and speed. Be prepared that such a vessel needs the most gas, so it is the most expensive option at your disposal.

  • Fishing boat

On average, a fishing boat will get 2 mpg at max RPMs. However, its mileage will vary from 1 to 4 mpg, depending on the RPMs, engine type, and weather conditions while sailing.

Fishing boat

Boat model Engine type Miles per gallon*
Boston whaler 190 outrage Mercury 3.5
Tidewater 2110 bay Yamaha 3.5
Triton 240 LTS Yamaha 2.2
Sea hunt gamefish 25 Yamaha 1.4
Boston whaler 230 outrage Yamaha 1
Pro-Line 23 sport Suzuki 1.8
Seavee 290 Twin Suzuki 1.6
Pathfinder 2400 trs Honda 2
Judge 27 Chesapeake Honda 1.5
Regulator 23 Twin 1.1

*At full throttle

  • Small watercraft

The rule of thumb is that a small boat, like a sailboat or skiff, always consumes less gas than a bigger one. You can expect your watercraft to spend 3 to 8 gallons of fuel per hour.

This boat type is not fuel-efficient since it is sizable and heavy, plus it takes strong power to push two tubes through the water. Therefore, you should count on 5 gallons per hour to spend while sailing, but some old, poorly maintained boats often need up to 25 gallons per hour.

Pontoon boat

Boat model Engine type Miles per gallon*
Qwest 818 adventure cruise Yamaha 7.5
Sunchaser 818 oasis cruise Yamaha 6.7
Avalon Catalina 2185 CR Yamaha 3.2
Bentley 243 Yamaha 2.6
Bennington 25 RTSB Yamaha 1.5
Crestliner 200 sprint Mercury 3.1
Barletta C22QC Mercury 2.4
Avalon Catalina 2385 SQL Mercury 2.4
Avalon Catalina 2585 QL Mercury 2
Barletta L25UC Mercury 1.3

*At full throttle

  • Bass boat

The primary purpose of an elegant bass boat is fishing, but its powerful fuel-injected engine requires high gas consumption. If you enjoy this boat type, you should count on 4 to 5 gallons per hour that your vessel will spend at cruising speed.

Most bass boats spend 4 mpg at max RPMs, but the mileage may vary from 5 to 7 mpg, depending on its weight and condition, engine type, and weather conditions.

Bass boat

Boat model Engine type Miles per gallon*
Nitro Z21 Yamaha 7.7
Alumacraft escape 145 CS Yamaha 7.5
Tidewater 1672 Skiff Yamaha 6.7
Crestliner 1600 Storm Mercury 7.6
SmokerCraft 17 Excursion Mercury 4.6

*At full throttle

This light boat typically uses 3 to 6 gallons per hour, but the final gas consumption will depend on the engine type, boat length, and maintenance levels.

Some models longer than 20 feet (6 m) require 5 to 6 gallons of gas per hour at speeds of 20 knots.

  • Cabin cruiser boat

A cabin cruiser boat requires more gas, so you should be prepared to reach 0.5 to 2 miles per gallon. However, you can use it for long-term travel thanks to its large fuel tank. Remember that careful cruising and proper maintenance significantly improve gas efficiency.

Cabin cruiser

Boat model Engine type Miles per gallon*
Azimut Magellano 43 Twin Cummins 1.6
Jeanneau leader 10.5 Yamaha 1.3
Jeanneau leader 12.5 Yamaha 0.6
Back cove 34O Twin Yamaha 1
Tiara 43 LE Triple Yamaha 1.1
Chris-Craft 34 corsair Twin Mercury 1.2
Intrepid 409 valor Triple Mercury 1.9
Sea ray Sundancer 320 Twin MerCruiser 1.5
Grand Banks Eastbay 44 Twin Volvo Penta 0.75
Regal 33 express cruiser Twin Volvo 0.6

*At full throttle

  • Cuddy cabin boat

This boat will get approximately 2.5 mpg at max RPMs, but its average mileage will significantly vary, depending on its size and condition, engine type, and weather conditions.

Depending on these factors, you can expect your vessel to spend 1 to 4 mpg. In other words, you will need a boat with a 100-gallon tank for all-day cruising in most cases.

Cuddy cabin boat

Boat model Engine type Miles per gallon*
Stingray 225cr I/O 240 HP 3.4
Stingray 250cr Volvo Penta 2.8
Crown line 264 cr Yamaha 2.8
22 Sea hunt Yamaha 2.64
Rinker 22MTX Yamaha 2.4
20 Proline hardtop Mercury 1.9
Bayliner VR5 Mercruiser 2.6
Rinker 29QX Mercruiser 2.2
Pursuit 2460 Denali Mercruiser 1.2
Pursuit 2860 Denali Twin 4.3l EFI Merc’s 1

*At full throttle

  • Bowrider boat

This boat type with enough space for seating will commonly get about 3 miles per gallon of gas. However, it will vary and go up to 5 miles per gallon, depending on the boat weight, number of passengers, and cruise speed.


3. Boat size

Boat size

It is necessary to match the boat size with engine power. A too-small motor on a sizable vessel will significantly increase gas consumption. If you have a big boat, you should consider using multiple engines, but it will cause more fuel consumption.

  • Boat weight – A heavy boat forces the engine to work more, so it will burn more fuel.
  • Boat length – Remember that longboat types typically use less gas since they cut through the water much easier. The best option is to pick out the long vessel with a narrow hull.


4. Engine type

Engine type

The engine power is crucial for gas consumption, so you should be aware that the motor with more horsepower uses more gas. For instance, a pontoon boat engine of 50 HP uses significantly less gas than a tritoon boat engine of 115 HP.


5. Engine maintenance and bottom condition

Engine maintenance and bottom condition

A poorly maintained engine always has higher gas consumption. Plus, the bottom’s paint type and its condition are vital. The clean bottom will cut through the water more smoothly, improving fuel conservation and increasing vessel speed.


6. Hull shape

Hull shape

Boats with V hulls use less fuel than square-shaped models.


7. Fuel type

Fuel type

It is crucial to follow the recommendation on fuel octane for a particular vessel since it is the best way to maximize MPG. Saving a few bucks by using cheap gas will always cost you more in the long run.


8. Weather conditions and wind

Weather conditions and wind

It is hard to make headway under wind and waves, or when fighting the tide, so the boat will need more fuel in this case. Be careful in such a dangerous situation to prevent using up all of the gas without moving from the place.


9. Your driving style

Your driving style

Driving erratically followed by frequently starting and stopping will lead to higher gas consumption. Each time you increase boat speeds, it will require more power and overwork the engine.

While constant driving at a top speed typically prolongs the total distance traveled on a full tank, going at a slow pace and stretching will cost you more.


Ways to Reduce Fuel Consumption

There are a few tips you should follow to reduce gas consumption. Let’s see.

  1. Pick out an appropriate boat
  2. Properly upgrade, tune-up, and maintain the boat engine and hull
  3. Adjust the speed and avoid idling and drag
  4. Reduce weight and avoid carrying reserve fuel, excessive water, and unnecessary wastewater when possible
  5. Balance the load
  6. Pick out a proper prop size
  7. Loosely set the schedule
  8. Use motor sail to increase the speed with reduced gas consumption
  9. Avoid sailing during severe weather conditions

Finally, avoid buying overpriced gas in the marina whenever possible to save some money.



The amount of fuel your boat spends significantly varies depending on many factors. Boat type, age, size, and condition, maintenance level, engine type, and average speed are crucial in most cases.

The rule of thumb is that a poorly-conditioned old boat with an inadequate engine has low fuel mileage. Therefore, you should follow a few tricks to lower gas consumption.

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