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Survey says economy won't deter boat use

In a recent BoatU.S. membership survey, 96 percent of respondents said the economic downturn would not lead them to "stop using their boat this summer."

"Last summer, high fuel prices kept some boaters off the water," Nancy Michelman, BoatU.S. president, in a statement. "But this year, despite the economy, our members are largely optimistic and are determined to make good use of their boats."

The survey also found:

* 52 percent reported they are not changing the way they use their boat, compared to last summer.

* If this summer's gas prices are lower than last summer's, 39 percent said they expect to go boating more often.

* Only 1 percent of respondents say they would not boat this year.

* Some changes in the way respondents plan to use their boat this summer include: reducing cruising distances or selecting boating destinations closer to home (24 percent); reducing the number of boating trips/days (17 percent); spending more time anchored out (17 percent); spending more time at their home marina (13 percent); running the motor less (13 percent) and sharing costs (10 percent).

* Independence Day is by far the favorite summer boating holiday (49 [percent).

The National Marine Manufacturers Association reports there were an estimated 70 million Americans who went boating in 2008, a 5 percent increase from 2007, despite the recession and higher gas prices.

With gas prices currently hovering at around $2.50 per gallon, much lower than last year's nearly $4 per gallon, the industry expects this summer to be one of the busiest, with boaters taking to the water in record numbers.

"We anticipate Americans cutting down on out-of-town vacations this summer, but still looking for ways to afford the activities and hobbies they love - for those who love the water we want to make sure they know how to access the boating lifestyle at all price points," NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins said in a statement.

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