<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1663564727022060&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Your Checklist to Ensure You Aren't Robbing Your Boat of Horsepower

Posted by: Bell Performance

No matter what kind of boat you own, if you’re like most boat owners you want to squeeze out as much horsepower from it as possible.

Typically, there are three kinds of powerboats you and your family can choose from to enjoy the water during the up coming summer months. The first is the ever-present runabout. Another favorite is the performance boat and quickly gaining in popularity is the personal watercraft.

This post will help you identify easy and affordable ways to help your boat maintain its horsepower.

Types of Boats


Runabouts are up to about 16 feet in length and usually have a two-stroke outboard motor, fueled by gas that is in the range of 50 HP to 90 HP. 

A boat that you use mostly for water skiing is a specialized type of runabout. Rather than an outboard motor, they usually have an inboard motor and are a little longer, generally up to 20 feet

Performance Boats

Romantic young couple spending time together and relaxing on yacht

These are the “muscle cars” of the boating world. Horsepower for these boats range from 225 HP to 500 HP and have a deep V shaped bottom to smooth out the ride at high speeds. These boats reach up to 35 feet long and speeds of nearly 100 mph.

Personal Water Craft

If performance boats are the “muscle cars” of boating, personal watercraft (PWC) are the motorcycles. Under 10 feet long, equipped with saddles and not seats, handlebars not a steering or tiller, and with power ranging from 40 to 110 horsepower, they attract younger boaters or boaters who are young at heart 

Performance Checklist

No matter what kind of boat you own, if you are like most boat owners, you want insurance that you are squeezing every ounce of horsepower out of your engine. Following is a checklist to help you get the most power from your boat’s engine.

Eliminate All Unnecessary Weight

Like the trunk of car, boats are a collecting place for stuff – much of it unneeded. Excess weight, creates drag on your engine, which makes it work harder, and less efficiently – not only does extra weight cut effective horsepower, it also reduces fuel economy.

Keep the Bottom of Your Watercraft Clean

Debates rage about the benefits of hull waxing. Boat owners offer anecdotal examples of improved power with waxed hulls. Scientists dispute this, citing that water, unlike air, clings to smooth surfaces such as a waxed hull, and increases drag and decreases engine performance.

Treat your Fuel with the Right Additives

Gasoline powered boats are prone to problems from using E10 gasoline. The E10 designation means that the gas has 10 percent ethanol. 

Marine engines can experience many problems related to E10 fuel that include:

  • Vapor lock also called fuel starvation due to water contamination of the fuel. Ethanol is similar in action to a sponge and soaks up any water it meets including humidity. Unlike gas, water will not burn and makes for a terrible fuel. However, adding a non-alcohol additive solves this problem and prevents you from stalling out and waiting for a tow.
  • Fuel separation is also a common problem with ethanol treated gasoline. This occurs when gasoline and water it has separates into two layers in your fuel tank. There are non-alcohol based marine fuel additives that prevent fuel separation. In fact, high quality additives often prevent against vapor lock and fuel separation
  • Ethanol can damage plastic parts, corrode metal parts, and dissolve fiberglass, which often is the primary material for marine fuel tanks. Again, check with your marine parts dealer for a non-ethanol containing additive that guards against these issues.
  • As outboards are often decades old, the older engines have more difficulty with E10 fuel and are particularly susceptible to damage from its use.

Follow these tips and make sure you treat your fuel when storing your boat as E10 fuel has a short shelf life.

Ethanol Problems Facing Consumers  

This post was published on February 10, 2014 and was updated on April 19, 2021.

Topics: Ethanol, Boats and Marine