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Is your boat engine running at its optimum RPM? Are you getting the best possible speed and range? Are you sure you’re turning the right-sized propeller?

It can be a tricky thing, evaluating your boat’s performance. However, it’s important that you do it; not only will a boat that’s running well make for safer and more enjoyable outings, but you can see savings in your pocketbook by ensuring efficient operation and heading off concerns before they become problems.

So, how do you measure and evaluate such critical performance?

The good news is that you don’t have to be a trained engine technician. Thanks to the Internet, a lot of “benchmark” performance numbers are public. Grady-White, for example, publishes performance data for all of its models with multiple engine options. Other boat builders do the same, or you can check with your engine manufacturer. You can also find boat tests published in boating magazines.

Find these numbers for your boat and engine, or if you can’t find your exact boat, find one that closely matches your boat in size and weight with the same power package. Then do your own evaluation using the same system or criteria as the published tests.

With a similar load and under similar conditions as the test boat, your boat should not be too far off from the published data. Be sure to look at your engine manufacturer’s wide-open throttle (WOT) RPM range; you want to be in the upper 50 percent of that range. If you’re not, your boat may need to be re-propped, or there may be another problem. This is the time to call your service facility.

Many published performance tests include GPH and MPG, and if you have a fuel consumption monitor, you can easily compare these numbers too. Anything that seems “way off” to you might be an indicator that there’s an issue that needs investigating.

This is not an entirely scientific or foolproof way to know if your engine is totally healthy—you should always stick to the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule — but it is a relatively fast and simple way that you can keep an eye on things and possibly prevent major problems and repairs.

United Marine Underwriters is more than just boat insurance. Browse our Boats For Sale at BoatBrowser or our Lake Resource Guide at LakeBrowser or share your fishing stories and photos at True Fish Tales – the ones that did not get away.

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