KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE, AUG. 22 -- Call it conservation without tears.

With the potential for shortages of gasoline because of the conflict in the Persian Gulf, President Bush urged Americans yesterday to take steps to conserve energy.

But it was a modest call to arms, and the president said it didn't mean he would give up using his boat Fidelity, which he takes out almost daily for fishing trips from his summer home here along the Maine coast.

"I'm going to keep using my boat," Bush said. "And I hope the rest of America will prudently recreate. I don't think we've reached the point where I want to call on everybody in the recreation industry to shut it down or everybody that's taking a vacation in American to shut it down."

The president's speedboat is of the style made famous in the television series "Miami Vice" and reportedly consumes about 25 gallons of fuel an hour, although consumption varies with use.

Along the Kennebunkport River, where Bush's boat is serviced, local boaters were defensive in response to questions about Fidelity's fuel consumption.

At Chick's Marina, where the president's boat often takes on fuel, calls about Fidelity were referred to the Secret Service.

"It's a powerboat, but what's commonly felt about Fidelity is that it's not excessive," said one person who declined to be identified but who was familiar with Kennebunkport boating. "It's not a muscle boat."