How Far Can a Boat Go on a Tank of Gas? (You Will be Surprised!)

How Far Can a Boat Go on a Tank of Gas

Afraid to go too far because you are not sure when you’ll run out of gas? Many new boaters are still having a hard time gauging the distance they can travel with a tank of gas. There are many factors that can affect how much gas you’ll consume when traveling through the waters.

Luckily, there are ways to know how much gas you need for your boating adventure. It is important to understand your fuel consumption so as not to experience running out of fuel in the middle of your trip. Aside from it is inconvenient, it can also be costly since you have to pay towing fees.

To avoid that from happening here are ways on how to maximize your gas consumption and to gauge how much gas you need for every trip.

Factors that Affect Fuel Consumption

Factors that Affect Fuel Consumption

On a tank of gas, you can travel from 5 miles up to at least 30 miles. But as mentioned earlier, numerous factors can affect the distance of your travel. Here are some of them.

Type of Boat

Each type of boat consumes gas differently. To understand how much gas you need, you need to identify the kind of boat you are driving.

Small Watercraft

Smaller boats tend to consume gas less gas than bigger boats. These types of boats can consume around 3 to 8 gallons of fuel per hour while cruising. If you are sailing while motoring, you can save up more gas and travel longer distances.

Motor Boats

Motorboats that run faster can use up to 20-30 gallons of fuel per hour. However, consumption can still depend on their speed and the kind of motor boat you are driving.

Examples of Boats and their fuel consumption:

Cabin Cruiser Boat – This type of boat requires more gas it can burn fuel at around 1 to 2 miles per gallon. But if you have a large fuel tank, it can be used for long-term travel.

Pontoon Boat – This type of boat can use at least 5 to 25 gallons per hour. This is because of its weight, size, and hull design.

Center Console Boats – Since this type of boat weighs less, the average usage of gas is around 3-6 gallons per hour.

Size of Boat

The length of the boat is also a contributing factor when it comes to how much gasoline will be consumed. A longer boat uses lesser gas because it can reach the destination faster and easier. Trimarans and catamarans usually provide better gas mileage because of their hull design. Boats that have cabins and cockpits that are on top of water provide not only a nice and comfortable ride but also good gas mileage.

Weather Conditions

Fighting the wind and waves while sailing is very challenging. Aside from it will take you longer to get to your destination (or maybe you won’t even reach your destination), it can significantly affect your gasoline consumption. It can also be very dangerous sailing in rough conditions, especially if you are driving a small watercraft. You will be surprised to learn that you have used most of your gas without even getting near to your target location.

The Way You Drive

When you are driving a car did you notice that you use more gas when you drive faster or when you stop frequently and turn off the engine then start again? Similar when driving a boat, the speed you are driving and the way you drive have an impact on your fuel consumption.

It’s okay to drive fast for the thrill of it, just bear in mind that you have to be conscious of how much gas you’ll be using so you won’t end up in the middle of the sea with an empty fuel tank.

Boat’s Engine and Bottom Condition

There are many reasons why you need to have a good maintenance routine for your vessel. It is not only to preserve the beauty of it and to perform well but also to save on fuel. Aside from the sails, your engine and bottom part of the boat should also be well-maintained.

If your bottom paint had deteriorated, there’s a bigger chance that it will have more barnacle and algae buildup. When that happens, it will have a hard time cutting through the water, making you consume more fuel than usual. Your engine’s condition is also a big factor in the overall performance of your boat. So, take care of your bottom and engines well, for your vessel to use fuel more efficiently.

Traveling on Yachts

Traveling on Yachts

How about yachts? Many would love to travel the world with a yacht, but how far can they go and how much fuel will it consume? Well, it will mainly depend on the type of cruising you are planning and the kind of yacht you’ll use. There are different kinds of yachts and all of them are designed for different cruising purposes.

Similar to other types of watercraft, there are factors that can affect how far you can travel with your yacht and how much fuel you will consume on your trip. So, it is important to consider your itinerary, the type of yacht you will use if there are other forms of auxiliary power, and whether you are using a motor or sailing yacht. All of these factors can determine the success of your trip.

Sailing Yachts vs Motorized Yachts

Sailing Yachts vs Motorized Yachts

Yachts can be powered by a sail or motor and there are also some yachts that are powered by both sails and motor. But let’s focus more on sailing yachts and motorized yachts and find out how much you can travel with both types.

Sailing Yachts

One advantage of driving a sailing yacht is it can take you to almost anywhere you want. It can also run for 90 days without the need to stop as long as your yacht is fully stocked with all the supplies you need for your voyage. A sailing yacht that is well-maintained and with the right wind conditions, it can sail at around 5 knots per hour at a steady pace.

The length of the yacht with a bigger hull can cover better distance and speed compared to a relatively smaller vessel. As an example, a 30ft sailing yacht can travel around 100 nautical miles in a single day.

Motorized Yachts

When it comes to motorized yachts, it can be a bit difficult to assess how far you can travel since your source of power is fuel. Again, your single tank of fuel may allow you to go travel longer or lesser distances depending on the size of your fuel tank and vessel.

As a guide, larger vessels need larger fuel tanks. Take for example a 75ft motorized yacht that can be filled with 11,000L of fuel can ride around 1500 nautical miles compared to a 35ft motorized yacht that can carry about 100L of fuel can only travel around 400 nautical miles. Still, these are just estimates, and weather conditions can still be a factor.

Just a reminder, a yacht with a bigger fuel tank does not always mean you can cover more distance. This is because of many contributing factors such as the yacht’s weight.

Auxiliary Power Sources of Yachts

Aside from fuel, there are several other sources that can power a yacht, such as water, sun, and wind. These power sources are often used on different amenities on the yacht to help your vessel travel further while refueling.

Hydro Generators – Hydro or water generators are attached to the transom of the yacht and can be utilized to power water heaters, lights, etc.

Solar Generators – Sun is used to power the solar panels to charge the batteries of the boat. This is typically used as backup when power is in use. There are different types of solar panels available for sailing, you can find some that are very flexible and can fit in the sails.

Wind Generators – Wind is not just used to sail yachts, but wind generators can use the power of the wind to charge batteries.

Outboard Motors – Outboard motors are typically more useful on small watercraft. Most sailors use it as a backup when they experience technical problems with their onboard engines.

Yachts By Category

Before you plan your voyage, it is vital that you know the category of your yacht so you can prepare and plan your trip accordingly.

Category A

Category A Yachts also known as expedition yachts or explorer are designed for cruising on the open ocean. This type of yacht can handle strong winds and waves as high as 23ft due to its large hull.

Category B

Though strong enough to handle to traverse wider seas, they are not suitable for oceans. They can handle up to 13ft high of waves, but may not handle rough water and strong winds.

Category C

Category C yachts are more suitable for lakes and bays as they can only handle waves with a height of around 7ft.

Category D

Yachts falling under this category are ideal for sheltered areas such as rivers, protected harbors, and lakes as they can only manage waves at least 4ft high. Category D yachts are also recommended to use on day trips only.

Tips on How to Make Your Boat Fuel Efficient

Tips on How to Make Your Boat Fuel Efficient
  • Avoid sailing in rough conditions
  • Plan your trip wisely. Set schedule loosely and make sure you have enough fuel, so in case you experience bad weather, you don’t have to use your engine more and won’t run out of fuel.
  • Manage your cruising speeds, best to travel on average speed rather than on top speed
  • Check your fuel gauge from time to time to see if you have more fuel in your tank
  • Use an appropriate vessel on your cruise, you can’t use a small vessel when boating in the Atlantic Ocean as it cannot handle waves that are extremely large
  • Clean your engines regularly and make sure the bottom of your vessel does not have any algae build-up

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How many miles can a boat travel on one tank of gas?

The miles a boat can travel will depend on several factors such as weight, size, wave and wind conditions, cruising speed, fuel tank capacity, engine hours, etc. But on average, you can travel a range of 5 to 30 miles on a tank of gas.

How long does a full tank of gas last on a boat?

Again, fuel economy varies from boat to boat. For instance, a boat weighing 7000lbs with a length of 25ft can last around 9 to 10 hours.

How much is a tank of gas for a boat?

The price for fuel can vary depending on location, but typically a gallon of fuel can cost around $2.50. However, this price range can change from one place to another. So, a motorboat running at a fast cruising speed can burn at least 20-30 gallons of fuel per hour. More or less, a five-hour trip can range from $250 to $300.

Should you store your boat with a full tank of gas?

Most technicians and marine engine manufacturers recommend filling the fuel tank to almost full when storing. It is advisable to leave a little capacity in case the fuel expands when the temperature gets warm.

How can you determine how far a yacht can travel on a single fuel tank?

When refueling your yacht, log the engine hours and all the times you stop and start. Instead of depending on your fuel gauge, measure your gas used by gallons or liters per hour. These steps will allow you to determine the distance traveled by your yacht.


Are you ready to take your yacht cruising on the open ocean? Whether you are traveling long-distance or just out on a fishing trip, it is important that you understand how your fuel gauges work so you can determine how much gas you can still burn on your trip. Remember that large fuel tanks do not always mean they can cover more distance even if they have a bigger fuel tank capacity.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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