You might be used to making quick mileage calculations while on the road, but being out on the open water is a different story. There are myriad factors that can impact on how quickly or slowly you may burn fuel. It is not enough to simply calculate your speed and distance, you also need to account for the sea state and wind conditions around you.
This can be tricky at first but, like most aspects of sailing, it quickly becomes second nature. Our guide to making accurate fuel calculations will help you prepare for longer sailing trips and stay safe on extended voyages.
Check the Weather Forecast
The first step is to check the weather predictions for your planned passage. This is really easy to do, especially with all the superb forecasting websites available. If you sign up to one of these resources (many of which are free), you can simply log in and get up to date information for as much as a week in advance. If you are onboard a sailing boat and no wind is forecasted, you may have to motor most of the way to your destination. If there is a steady wind, minimal ‘engine time’ may only be required resulting in less fuel consumption. If you need to have the engine ticking over to keep you on course or moving through high winds and turbulent conditions, your fuel will run down faster, so make sure that you accommodate for this.
Know Your Engines
You should know exactly how your engines run and how much fuel they burn in various conditions. The best way to get to know them is, of course, to spend time onboard in a variety of conditions. Test your boat; push it in safe, controlled conditions, and really get to know how she performs and how fast she comfortably travels in a range of sea states. Before you start an extended voyage, determine the average number of litres per hour the vessel burns (for each engine) and calculate your net fuel needs accordingly. Then, add extra to accommodate for choppy waters and high winds.
If you’ve checked the forecast and the conditions are going to be very turbulent, it might be worth postponing until they abate. This can be disappointing, but sailing is all about compromise and adapting to your surroundings. You’ll enjoy your trip more if you don’t have to worry about uncomfortable swells and running low on fuel.
Consider the Worst Case Scenario
The chance of a serious nautical emergency is minimal. Planning and experience is the key to success, so take the time to work through worst case scenarios. Ask yourself what you’d need if the conditions turned and didn’t improve. How much fuel would you burn if you had to push the engines hard to get to a safe port or anchorage? Carry additional fuel in jerry cans carefully stowed.
Why Fuel Calculations Need To Be Generous
You obviously don’t want to be carrying so much extra fuel that you compromise the efficiency of your boat. On the other hand, fuel calculations have to be generous enough to keep you moving, even in unexpected situations. Striking this balance will become easier with the more time that you spend sailing.
For more information on working out the correct fuel consumption for your next voyage, come and speak to our experienced and knowledgeable team at Multihull Solutions today. Our team will help you make the best decisions to ensure that your next sailing experience is one to remember.