A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Turned off by high gas prices?

We’re paying as high as $2.73 a gallon for gas at the pump to drive our cars in Essex, Conn., home of Soundings Publications.

I know it cost more to fill a boat at the marinas, and I’m wondering if the soaring price will deter people from buying boats.

In addition to paying the high cost of fuel, there’s the cost to insure the boat and let’s not forget the cost to dock the boat. 

It all adds up.

Can the middle-class afford a boat?

The upcoming April issue of Soundings Trade Only has a story on how high gas and diesel prices took a toll on fuel sales, profit margins and repair work.

But boaters did not indicate they were ready to quit their pastime to save on fuel costs, according to a recently released survey by a supplier, Illinois-based ValvTect Petroleum.

Only 5 percent of the marinas indicated their powerboat customers talked about getting out of boating. 

According to the Associated Press, the RV industry has been reporting record sales for the past five years, despite the rising cost at the pump. An increasing number of baby boomers want the gas-guzzling vehicles for retirement and younger families want to vacation closer to home.

But what about the boating industry?

How are dealers and manufacturers addressing the cost of fuel as they feverishly try to convince potential buyers to spend their disposable income on boats?

Lois Caliri
Soundings Trade Only


8 comments on “Turned off by high gas prices?

  1. Grant Westerson


    You are right on the money, I just wish my vehicle didn’t need the high test grade which just coasted over the $3 mark in Essex.

    The dealers in Connecticut hav e become accustomed to the New England seasonal rate fluxuations in fuel prices. It’s been going on now for 30 years or so since the first “shortage” of gas back in the ’70s. It hasn’t seemed to prompt boaters to sell their pride and joy but instead they have cut back the long haul cruising, preferring to use their vessel more as a hotel room. This in turn has motivated many of the marinas to spruce up their facilities and add pools and other luxuries that real boaters looked down as unnecessary 40 years ago.

    If we get another bad weather season and get two or three more weekends rained out, the costs of fuel will just average about what you used to spend anyway. Boats will have owners and owners wil have boats but they just won’t be driven that hard or as far, so perhaps the repair business might slow down as well. But that has not seemed to have happened yet either.

  2. Blaine

    Here in “fly over” country we have seen it slow down. Bass fisherman are downsizing there boats and motors. Once we sold 225’s and bigger. Now the 150’s and smaller are on the come back. This is due to boat costs and fuel costs. It all goes back to oil prices any way you look at it. Guys are going to fish, they are just doing it in a smaller boat/motor packages. The middle class can no longer afford the 20+ footer with a 225 or bigger motor. That was the back bone of the bass fishing market. These fisherman can afford boats under $25k. If I am wrong why did Stratos just bring out a 12,995.00 glass fishing boat package. We have seen the used market take off. I have sold more used boats this year than any other I can remember. We are covering the country side looking for used boats to bring in to the dealership to sell. And why are used selling….COST. A customer can get in to a used boat for half of a new one. That should tell us all what the market is doing, where the market is going. Get oil back down, fuel prices come down and the new boat market will take off and go nuts.

  3. Bruce Slaughter

    I am also a boater and I have noticed a disturbing trend over the last year. Every marina I visit on the Tennessee river has docks full of 45′ and larger boats for sale. The houseboats have become hotels and condos, and the cruisers just don’t cruise anymore. The oil companies are slowly strangleing the river economy. I don’t know where the author of the “Pay for Play” article got his optomistic outlooks, but it didn’t come from around here.

  4. Bob Paterson

    Suck it up ! The RV industry is facing the exact same issue.
    -How about reminding your current owners that a reduction to 2/3 throttle will save them up to 50% in fuel. (RVrs can’t do the same.)
    -Remind them that there are no “Minimum Speed” signs on the water, as there are on major highways.
    -Reduce the power by downsizing the package you’re trying to sell a first time boater. But don’t underpower the boat to get to a ‘price point’, because they’ll pretty soon quit boating altogether.

  5. Jim Burroughs

    It might help if salespeople would do the math for their boat owners and potential boat buyers. Our average boater on Lake Erie might run 50 hours in a year. At ten gallons per hour, that is 500 gallons of gas for the season. If fuel is $1. more per gallon than it was a couple of years ago, that equals $500. Over a 6 month average season, that equals to less than $100 per month or $25 dollars per weekend. In our area people seem to have adjusted for the most part to higher fuel prices.

  6. mike webster

    In Florida “marina” gas is typically much more than that seen on the ‘highway”…..curious when we consider the fact that road way taxes are not levied on “marina” fuels.

  7. Bryon Kass

    Diesels are the only answer. With the high cost of a new 4 stroke outboard, diesel is the way to go. Volvo has the new D3-190 which would replace any IO or inboard SB gas engine at half the fuel costs. Diesel fuel is usually cheaper in the summer than winter due to its heating oil origin. One way to cut the cost is for builders to go the route of Albin and Mainship that is only one engine. The high reliability of diesels means no need for twins. A good bow thruster and a lesson in boat handling usually converts most people. These new diesels are nothing like the early noisy smelly things that customers associated with work boats. I am seeing the repower market reflecting more diesel conversions. The biggest obstacle seems to be many older boats are twins and changing to diesel twin or twin to single gets pricey. I did one last year and found that the single diesel cost 1/3 to run with almost equal top speed. Not too many would tackle a project like this but if there are any out there contact me.

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