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BoatU.S. reports uptick in on-water assistance

On-the-water boat towing and ungrounding services provided to members of BoatU.S. were up 8 percent at the mid-summer mark, when compared to 2008, the group reports.

"Boaters have less money in their wallets this year, which translates to fewer outings, less maintenance, and an increase in calls for on-the-water assistance," BoatU.S. Towing Service vice president Jerry Cardarelli said in a statement.

The association's BoatU.S. Towing Service operates a fleet of 600 TowBoatU.S. and Vessel Assist towing vessels across the country.

"Except for the Northeast, weather has generally been good and fuel prices remain around $3.50 per gallon at the fuel dock, down about a dollar or so from last summer's highs. But the economy has been a bigger factor," added Cardarelli.

A May survey of BoatU.S. members foreshadowed this news.

When asked how they planned to use their boat this summer, about half of the respondents said they would reduce cruising distances, stay closer to home and reduce the number of boating trips/days, among other cost-cutting measures.

"The middle class is boating's bread-and-butter and, like everyone else, these families are feeling the strain on their budget for discretionary activities," Cardarelli said.

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