Yacht Fuel Cost Calculator - How to Estimate the Costs

Dimitris Tsapis
May 8, 2021

Yacht captains have many responsibilities when it comes to the management of their vessel. One of them is keeping track of expenses, which is why it is important to familiarize yourself with the vessel’s operational costs. Keeping a luxury superyacht afloat isn’t cheap, and many claim that the average annual cost ranks up to 10% of the vessel’s price.

From these expenses, a significant portion goes to fuel. Filling up the tank of your boat is quite pricey, which is why a growing number of boat owners want to know exactly how much they are looking to spend for their upcoming voyage. This is also important for people who want to charter a boat for their holiday.

If you’re wondering how to best estimate the costs involved, you’re in the right place. This article will help you calculate your vessel’s yacht fuel cost while giving an overview of all the criteria used as variables. To make the process even easier, we link to a yacht fuel cost calculator to help you get an indication of the expenses you’ll need to cover. Let’s delve in!

Contents

Yacht fuel cost calculator

The easiest way to calculate your fuel costs is by using a yacht fuel cost calculator. There is a great calculator available here in case you want to save time and get an approximate estimation.


yacht fuel cost calculator

As you can see, the yacht fuel cost calculator has many variables which you need to be aware of before you set out to calculate the approximate price. This is what we will be dealing with in the next few chapters.

To help you get a better understanding of the calculation process we will do things manually while giving you the exact formulas used to calculate your vessel’s fuel needs. Therefore, make sure you keep on reading.

How to estimate yacht fuel costs

There are several things you need to keep in mind when you first set out to estimate the total fuel cost for your next voyage. These are summarised in the following points:

  • Distance of journey - The total amount of nautical miles (or km)
  • Cruising speed - The (average) speed of your vessel (in knots or km/hr)
  • Fuel consumption - Understanding how many gallons (or liters) of fuel are consumed per hour
  • Yacht fuel price - Understanding the average market price per gallon of fuel

The first two points depend solely on your needs and personal preference, which means that they are more flexible on a subjective basis. The latter two points may require a bit of research, especially if you’re not familiar with the engine of the vessel.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into each of the points mentioned above, and offer the required formulas to help you calculate yacht fuel cost.

Calculating distance and speed

To understand the exact distance you are looking to cover in your next voyage, you can simply use Google Maps to plan your route. The following video explains the process in detail.


As soon as your route is planned out, you can measure the distance as well, selecting the preferred method of calculation. In our case, it is best to measure in nautical miles (1nm=1,85km), as this metric is more commonly used among sea men. The yacht fuel cost calculator above has an embedded map that helps you pinpoint the journey you want to make.

Next comes the cruising speed. The number is mostly calculated in knots (nautical miles/hr). The speed with which the vessel will cruise depends on the captain onboard, but is often influenced by the owner and guests onboard. You can make a rough estimation of this number based on previous trips.

How much fuel does a yacht use?

Next, we need to calculate the amount of fuel that you will likely need. To do this we need to understand the engine type, its horsepower, and several other factors.

Let’s take a marine diesel engine for example. These engines are very common on motor yachts and consume approximately 0.4 pounds of fuel per hour for each unit of horsepower. You can find fuel consumption info for your specific engine by looking it up on the web or by calling the service number.

Once you know the fuel burn rate, it’s best to add a relative error margin of 10% based on minor factors. These include weather conditions, vessel size, and drag, all of which can increase the fuel burn.

How much fuel does a yacht use per hour?

Now that you know all the variables you can go ahead and calculate the amount of fuel that your yacht will need.

  • Start by calculating the fuel burn per hour based on the horsepower of the engine.
  • Add a multiplier based on the cruising speed of your vessel.

A vessel with a diesel engine of 300 horsepower will most likely burn 16-17 gallons per hour, which you can then use as a guideline when calculating the travel time based on the nautical miles you are looking to cover.

Superyachts are consuming much more fuel. An average 70-meter luxury yacht will burn around 130 gallons per hour with the engines running, while the amount increases significantly when the ship is moving. On average, you are looking at ±€2000 per hour (±1000 gallons) to achieve a speed of 20 knots. Of course, the higher the cruising speed, the more fuel you will be burning per hour, which in turn makes each hour at sea more expensive.

How much does boat fuel cost per gallon?

yacht fuel cost calculator

The exact price you are looking to pay per gallon depends on the marina you find yourself in. By looking at several price points of marinas, we get the following:

  • Average diesel prices range from $3.2-$3.9 per gallon
  • Average petrol prices range from $7.2-$7.8 per gallon

Note that discounts usually apply whenever you choose to purchase large quantities of fuel.

Why is boat fuel so expensive?

Marine fuel pricing is heavily inflated due to low supply and high demand. In short, the limited number of fuel stations at marinas have to service all the yachts that dock, which leads to a no-choice monopoly.

That said, yacht owners are usually not that concerned about the small price spike that marinas charge as an extra. If anything, they are happy to pay due to the convenience of the service.

How much fuel does a yacht hold?

Once again, the answer to this question depends on the size of the vessel. Smaller yachts can hold around 1300 gallons of fuel, while the bigger vessels can store up to 100,000 gallons. The ship’s engineers should be able to provide this number for the vessel you command.

Yacht fuel formula

Now that we have a better understanding of all the variables that determine the cost of fuel, we can go ahead and take you through the calculation process step by step.

First, know the total duration of your cruise. To obtain this information, divide the number of nautical miles by the cruising speed of your vessel (knots). For example, if you want to make a journey that totals 150 nautical miles while traveling at 20 knots, the yacht fuel formula looks as follows:


Total duration = 150 nm / 20kn

Total duration = 7,5 hrs


Note that the amount of fuel consumption may end up higher than expected if:

  • Sea and weather conditions are not favourable
  • You plan to make short stops along the way while the engine keeps running

Next, what you want to do multiply the number of hours by the number of gallons that your engine burns on an hourly basis while moving at the speed you previously indicated. If we take, as an example, the superyacht mentioned in the previous examples, we would make the calculation as follows:


7,5 hrs x 1000 gph = 7500 gallons


Now assume that you will also make two stops along the way, an hour and a half each, in order to let the guests enjoy their time; maybe ride a jet ski.

You then multiply the added number of hours with the consumption rate of a running engine. In this case:


3 hrs x 130 gph = 390 gallons


All that is left to do now is add up the total amount of fuel needed and multiply the number with the price per gallon.


(7500+390) x $3,5 = $27615


In this example, the final cost of your will set you back a little bit more than 27 thousand dollars. Just to be safe, calculate the additional 10% (margin of error) to be prepared against unexpected mistakes. This added amount is not necessarily an ad-on when you consider chartering. Private yacht owners, however, should add the amount to their final cost.

And that's it! You should now have a better idea on the steps you need to follow to calculate the fuel costs for your yacht. While there is quite a bit of information you should keep in mind, it is best to plan out everything with detail to avoid unforeseen costs. If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog post on yacht electrical systems as well.