Fuel prices are much in the news lately. As markets around the world react to the appalling actions of Russia in Ukraine, oil prices are rising fast and fuel supply is becoming constrained.

For New Zealanders, that translates to pain at the fuel pump and marina bowser, something the Government has tried to address in the short term by reducing the excise tax on fuel. This will certainly provide some relief, but with war in Ukraine raging and international sanctions on Russia tightening, oil prices look set to keep rising. Any benefits of the lower tax may soon be swallowed by higher international fuel prices.

Higher fuel prices are not good news for boaties, or anyone else for that matter. The economic knock-on effects will be felt by every sector, but it’ll be us – the ordinary citizens of New Zealand – who pay the price.

For the next few months, I suspect some boaties might think more carefully about how often they take their boats out, or how far – which is a shame after enduring two-and-a bit years of pandemicdriven disruption. Many of us were only just getting back into the swing of boating.

Sailing vessels will be less affected of course – the wind is free – but even for the rest of us who love boating, I’m guessing fuel prices would have to really skyrocket to keep us off the water. Anyway, there are many ways to reduce the fuel bill.


Slowing down is one. Just backing off the throttle by a few hundred rpm can save a lot of fuel and every vessel has a sweet spot where speed, fuel burn and distance covered align. Likewise, boating in rough conditions uses more fuel, so avoid it if you can, and don’t overload the vessel – more weight equals more fuel burnt. Another fuel saver is trimming the boat for optimal performance.

Amongst the trailer-boating fraternity, sharing the cost of fuel is quite common – everybody onboard contributes, not just the boat owner. It makes a day on the water affordable for all, especially when fuel prices are high.

Perhaps we’ll see more of it?

As I write, there is no sign the glorious, sunny autumn weather is going anywhere fast, though a break in the relentless easterly breezes that buffeted northern parts of the country through summer would be welcome. With shorter days and daylight saving about to end, perhaps the easterlies will relent long enough to enjoy some boating in pleasant conditions before winter sets in!

Autumn is one of my favourite times on the water, especially those calm days when the sun is shining (but not too hot) and the fish are biting. I’ve always got room in my boat for a couple friends willing to pay their share of the petrol!