It was to be expected. The prime boating season is upon us and boaters are talking about the cost of gasoline - if for no other reason than because high gas prices are reported in the nightly news. No surprise . . . that leaves the public very unhappy.
As an aside, I find a bit of humor in this watching all the politicians scrambling to blame somebody else, anybody else, from the oil companies to speculators to some other party or politicians.
That said, with the national average at gas stations for regular at $3.83/gallon, and California leading all states at $4.35 (Hawaii $4.48 notwithstanding), we’re pushing toward the record high of $4.11 seen back in July, 2008. Of course, gas at marina fuel docks here in Florida is higher, currently averaging $4.72/gallon, but is predominantly ethanol-free, 90 octane with some including ValvTech. It’s no surprise, then, boaters are starting to talk about high gas prices and boating. So, it seems a good time to pause and recall some important facts and talking points we should keep in mind to allay customer concerns about boating and gas prices:
1. As we learned in the past, boaters and anglers remain boaters and anglers regardless of what happens at the pump. Boaters are reluctant to give up their time to relax, fish and enjoy their chosen recreation on the water. In fact, prior studies have shown the primary motivators for boating include fishing, relationship building, reducing stress and being outdoors. Previous high gas prices didn’t change those drivers.
2. In fact, while $3.83/gallon is being proclaimed very high by newscasters, it’s actually only 29 cents higher than a year ago. For the average boater, at least, this relatively small increase should not be expected to materially limit their time on the water.
3. In actuality, higher gas prices present only a marginal increase in the operating cost of an average boat. Most boats in use today are under 21 feet and simply don’t use very high amounts of gas. If a boating outing last year at this time used, say, 25 gallons of gas, that same outing today would cost just $7.25 more. It defies logic to think a boater would give it up for such a nominal increase.
4. Unlike a car, boating isn’t usually an activity where gas is being consumed all the time. During the many hours spent fishing, swimming, beaching and the like, the boat engine isn’t running at all. A sailboat with a motor uses even less!
5. Finally, we know boating habits can be modified by higher gas prices. For example, anglers may choose to fish closer to shore instead of running 20 or 30 miles offshore. Some may make cut down some mileage on vacation cruises. Others may opt to spend more time pulled up to a good beach closer to their launching ramp or marina. But, predictably, most boats will leave their trailers or slips as they have in past summers.
Finally, every customer deserves good advice about ways to reduce gas consumption. The service department, for example, should be advising that tuned up motors use less gas, their props should be checked, their hull bottoms must be kept clean and their trim tabs should be used properly, among other tips. It will all help make their boating better, regardless of the cost of gas.