Those boats can really save on fuel costs

Tom Jackson
Dec 23, 2013


I wrote a story recently on why Great Lakes shippers want the Army Corps of Engineers to do more dredging of Lake Erie’s shipping channels, and my piece included a quote from Glen Nekvasil praising the energy efficiency of Great Lakes freighters.
I told readers that according to Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association, the ships get 600 miles per gallon of fuel. 
That would be a pretty special ship.
The actual statistic is that such a freighter can get 607 miles from one gallon for each ton of cargo. That’s still pretty good compared to other forms of transportation, but I mangled the statistic.
One reader called to ask where he could get a 600 mpg boat.
I had to tell him that I couldn’t help.







Capt. Ford

Thanks for acknowledging the mistake, didn't think it was necessary to point out the mistake as most don't have a clue, however it should be noted this is the most efficient method, beating the railroads.



Capt. Ford

My comment was directed to Mr. Jackson, the average under 30' pleasure vessel only averages 2 mpg at speed.

Erie County Resident

Does it help to row downhill? :o)


Tom, you still don't have it right. Let's analyze your restatement:

"gets 607 miles from one gallon for each ton of cargo."

means that a gallon of fuel yields 607 miles per ton of cargo. Thus, with one ton of cargo, it would get 607 mpg, and with 10 tons of cargo, it would get 6070 mpg. One gallon is a constant in the equation described, and the number of miles gets multiplied by the number of tons.

The correct statement would be that in traveling 607 miles, the ship consumes one gallon of fuel for each ton of cargo. Here, 607 miles is the constant and the gallons of fuel are a function of the number of tons.

How things are worded determines whether, in the resulting equations, they are numerators, denominators, constants, or dependent variables. This is why grade school math involved so many story/word problems. Translating numerical concepts accurately into prose, and vice versa is important.

Personally, I miss the days when the journalism industry considered details like this more important than compelling reader emotion with words.