This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and millions of Americans will take to the nation’s highways and drive to unknown destinations. Millions of others will celebrate the long weekend by navigating the nation’s waterways. For those of you who enjoy spending your leisure time on the water, I want you know that when you fill your boat’s engine, despite the myths you may have heard, ethanol is safe for boats.
On Tuesday, RFA responded to a news release that was issued the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). In the release, BoatUS claimed that the results of an informal survey of its members showed that an overwhelming majority of boaters are frustrated with using gasoline that contains 10 percent ethanol. If the poll results are accurate, they are a clear and unfortunate indication that the myths surrounding boating and ethanol continue to exist.
For many years, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has engaged in a relentless misinformation campaign regarding boat engines and ethanol, particularly E15. By spreading falsehoods, NMMA has confused the issue. It is simply not true that ethanol and boats do not mix, and RFA is releasing a new infographic aimed at educating the 12 million boat owners about ethanol and boat engines. The fact is E10 is absolutely safe for marine engines, plain and simple.
Of course, regular maintenance of your boat engine is paramount to ensure its optimal performance. It is up to the owner to take care of their boat’s engine, whether it runs on ethanol or not. According to Vernon Barfield, a boat racing champion and the former technical chairman of the National Boat Racing Association, all fuels attract moisture. “A lot of people are misinformed that … 10 percent ethanol in there is doing all the damage, and it’s just not true,” he said.
Ethanol isn’t just okay to use in your boat engine; it is often preferred. Vernon, or any racing professional, will tell you that ethanol offers the highest performance of any fuel in the world. Its high octane content makes it the oxygenate of choice for many boaters. Last weekend, Don Onken, who is a farmer from central Illinois, and his team earned the top slot with his boat named “American Ethanol,” at the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. Onken’s black and yellow catamaran, which was clocked at 208 miles per hour, was pushed by four 1,700-horsepower engines that burn pure ethanol.
As Americans, we are privileged with the freedom to choose many aspects of our lives. And that’s really what it has always come down to: choice. For years, the ethanol industry has ensured that American consumers have the freedom of choice — the choice to fill up a vehicle, whether it has a set of wheels or an outboard motor, with the cleanest fuel currently available on the market.
So boaters, don’t hesitate to take another ride along the waves this Labor Day weekend. E10 will not steer you wayward. If you have questions, consult your owner’s manual before going out on the water. With this knowledge, alongside standard maintenance and proper winterizing routines, your boat will be ready to run for years to come.