Boating Without Breaking The Bank

boating illustrationWhen it comes to summer activities, it’s hard to beat a day on the water. Boaters know that their hobby offers a chance to relax, take in the outdoors and visit places that they may not be able to reach otherwise—all while enjoying an overall sense of freedom and adventure.

Best of all, it’s easy to do so for little more than the price of some fuel and food. Learn more as Beth Leonard, director of technical services, and Charles Fort, director of consumer protection, both at BoatU.S., share their tips for a perfect money-saving day on the water.


When considering a boat, opt for the smallest vessel that can safely and comfortably hold your crew. “Smaller boats use less fuel and cost less to dock,” says Fort.

Along those lines, make sure to properly maintain your engine and keep your boat properly trimmed and not overloaded. “Your owner’s manual will help you figure out what the optimal configuration is for loading and trimming the boat to optimize fuel economy,” says Leonard.

9:00 AM: Fuel Up

“For trailerable boats, fuel usually costs much less at your neighborhood gas station than at a marina,” says Fort. Use the GEICO app to find the cheapest gas nearby, and make sure that the pump states that the gas contains no more than 10 percent ethanol. “Higher amounts will void marine engine warranties and can cause expensive engine damage,” says Fort. “Also, check your owner’s manual for the correct octane rating to use. If the manual says 87 octane, using a higher level is a waste of money.”boating illustrationIf you opt to fill up at the marina, don’t bother with the premium gas, unless your manual tells you so. “Your engine won’t know the difference,” says Fort.

9:30 AM: Motor Out

But there’s no need to embark on an epic voyage. “You don’t have to go far to have fun,” says Fort. “Staying closer to home saves fuel money.”

10:30 AM: Take A Dip

Find a nice spot, drop the anchor, and go swimming or snorkeling. Money-saving bonus: While you’re anchored, you won’t be burning fuel.

12:30 PM: Grab A Bite

While it may be tempting to dine at a waterfront restaurant, it’s cheaper to anchor your boat and eat on board. (Though some eateries will allow boaters to dock for free.)

Inexpensive picnic provisions travel well, and they make for a tasty meal. Set out a spread of sandwiches, fruit, chips and cookies, plus lots of water and juice so there’s plenty for everyone. “Make sure everyone actually drinks—it’s easy to get dehydrated without realizing it,” says Leonard.

1:30 PM: Nod Off

If you’re feeling a post-lunch food coma coming on, why fight it? Take a nap on deck (don’t forget sunscreen) or drop anchor in a quiet cove and find a shady spot on shore.

2:30 PM: Turf …

Once awake, spend some more time ashore. Go for a hike on a nearby island or just relax on a beach.

4:30 PM: … And Surf

Grab a pole and go fish! Late afternoon is ideal for freshwater fishing. (Saltwater anglers should consult their charts for peak tide changes.) Your catch could be that evening’s dinner—which means you’ve also saved on another meal.

Ready for summertime boating? GEICO boat insurance could have you covered.

By Heather Eng

Illustrations by Mikey Burton

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