It can happen to the best of us, often it happens to all of us, but running out of fuel is never fun. We can get caught up in the fun of boating, forget how much gas we are using and end up dead in the water. I recall one time in particular I was out fishing all morning and chasing Bass and Bluegill to different parts of the lake. Then as I was heading back to dock the outboard just sputtered out. I began checking the engine, the prop, and even the electronic controls nothing was wrong. I checked my fuel gauge. It read half a tank but my gut told me something else. I grabbed my flashlight, popped the gas cap and as I peered down it was bone dry. I had run out of fuel.
The kind boater who was towing me back told me a story very similar to mine and that got me thinking. If it happened to both of us it has probably happened to a lot more. He shared with me a few pride saving tips and now I will share them with you.
1. Rule of Thirds
Try to save a third of your tank for going out and a third for coming back. This lets you keep at least a third in reserve just in case you have a memory lapse. Its this kind of peace of mind that will help you not get stranded in the middle of the lake.
2. Don’t Rely on your Fuel Gauge
These things are mechanical, even the digital ones, and have the capacity to fail at any time. Though they are usually reliable if you have a doubt or the gauge doesn’t seem to be going down, manually check the tank. You can always do the math as an extra safety measure. If you get x amount of hours per gallon and x amount of miles per gallon you know about how far and how long you can boat before you need to turn around.
3. Have an Escape Plan
Keep some oars and a method of communication available at all times. There might not be anybody around who is willing to tow you in when you need it. Having communication and a man-powered method to move the boat will keep you from having to rely on others and are a great help if you get into trouble.
Keep these things in mind the next time you head out and you might not end up like me, dead in the water miles from shore. If you have a bad luck story or another tip I left out let us know in the comments.