Skip to comments.Working class boating crunch is here.
Posted on 04/09/2006 5:58:02 PM PDT by Capt. Tom
Another working man's boating disaster is on the way.
The economy is good; but the high prices of marina fuel, marina slips, boat insurance, maintenance, is going to kill boating for a lot of working people starting this coming season.
I see a repeat of the early 1990s, when I moved from the Boston area to Boston's south shore. I went to a local marina and asked to get on a waiting list for a boat slip, I knew it would take years to get in. I was laughed at, the marina operator told me he had a waiting list for slips equal to all the boats in the marina and I was wasting my time-two years later in a bad economy, they had several empty slips for the entire season.
I see this happening again. When the people in the marinas bail out for economic reasons, as I expect will start this season, many people on the waiting lists will find out they can't afford the slips,and the fuel prices either.
Non-boat owners can't relate to filling up a boat fuel tank and spending between $100 and in the case of big twin diesels in a sportfisherman a thousand dollars a fillup.
I brought a 45 Cabo, twin 800 hp diesels up from the Bahamas last spring with the owner onboard. He put $8,700 of diesel into the tanks. Now most working men don't have boats that big, and with that much horsepower,or that kind of money for fuel. I am talking about working class boaters who don't have a lot of money left over each week to pay those really high fuel bills that started last season.
Boats use a lot of fuel (1-3 mpg). If you have $3.00/gallon to deal with ashore, the boat owner has $3.30 - $3.80 to deal with in the marina.
It's not just the fuel, the rising slip fees are another factor. In my area now, they are from $100/foot to $175/foot for a boat in a slip for the season. Usually May thru Mid October.
Last season was the economic handwriting on the wall, but most boaters toughed it out. The reality of economics will take its toll this season.
I see ancedotes indicating the boating problem right now. The boat I use on charter has been in the water since the end of March; at a year round, ice free marina, that usually has 30 or so boats there this time of year. I counted 13 today. We will move out of this marina to our regular marina in mid May when it opens for the season.
I just don't see fuel prices going down. China and India need more fuel. The mideast is shaky. Hugo Chavez (Venezuela) is a lose cannon. - tom
Any Freeper boaters care to comment? Any anecdotes? How are my fellow Freepers coping with this problem. - tom
Sure am glad I have a sailboat. I might use 10 gallons at most for the whole year going out just about every weekend.
I have an 18 foot bow rider with a 120 hp merc on it. The boat is very good on gas. We use it for fishing, tubing, and for cruising. We use it on the Hudson river up in the Catskill area.
As far as the marina goes, we wouldnt touch one. We trailer it to the public launch ramp abotu 20 mins away from the house- as do most people in this area. The lauch can get crowded on weekends, but most people are patient and wait in line. My family has thought abotu gettig a larger boat, but with gas prices and the expense of docking it for the summer, we are happy with the 18 foot for now.
I boat on the allegheny river in pittsburgh. We have a Mastercraft, ski boat. I lost my Malibu in the flood of 2004 and replaced it immediately. This is a heavily boated area. While the price of gas is up, I have not noticed any appreciable decline in usage.Interestingly to me is that what I see in boat sales is that the bigger ones are selling better. The exact opposite of what you have suggested and what I would expect. I fill mine up for $60-75, they fill those tubs up for $1,000+++. I would suggest that the problem or question is different than you suggest. There use to be 200 million people in the U. S. now there are 340 million. Everyone loves the water. Some can pay.
NC coast is seeing private boating access disappear as marinas sellout to developers who upscale the property with condos.
Same with the fishing piers They're being torn down in favor of condos.
Time to go sailing
Destin and Panama City Florida will never be the same. Developers have bought marinas, boat yards, and waterfront property like crackheads looking for some cash.
Rent a private slip with elec and water for $900.00season from 4/1 to 11/30 in South Jersey. have a Johnson 88 special and always take two 6 gal. tanks with me . I can shop around because of that, and store fuel I buy at the lowest price in extra tanks.
Whoa, one of these? Had no idea what it was, so I had to look it up. Nice boat. Have always loved that style. But...sigh...I can see I'm gonna remain a landlubber for the foreseeable future! Thanks for the update.
I can assure you that this crisis has nothing to do with working class boating issues. Our Lund and Alumacraft 17 footers with Evinrude and Johnson outboards sip gas. In fact, it takes more fuel to haul them up north on the back of the truck than it does to spend a day slaughtering walleyes and northerns.
Sailboats, inboards and marina slips...pshaw!
The single most annoying thing about Lake Michigan during the summer is the "personal watercraft." And I don't mind the noise as much as the smell. When I was growing up everyone sailed Hobies. Now I can count them on one hand on a two mile walk along the beach.
Neither of my boats use a drop of gasoline. All I have to do is make sure the Marine battery is charged and I can run the trolling motor all day long.
Bass and walleyes fear me, which is at it should be.
Remember I specifically am talking about the working class boater, being affected. and that is why I made it the title of the thread.
People who are buying big boats for a million dollars or more, are not my idea of working class people,they are in another category. I have two friends who have unlimited money; higher fuel prices would not bother them - it would get more people off the roads and and off the water. More room for them. They are in a different class and lifestyle. - tom
Snook and reds are almost as good as grouper.
Happening everywhere. The unfortunate outcome, and one that city leadership is ignoring, is that once public access becomes next to impossible, whether due to lack of dining at waterfront restaurants that no longer exist, walking public piers that no longer exist, enjoying waterfront scenic views while road-tripping that no longer exist, or whatever - tourism will dollars will drop and the primary source of revenue will fall.
What once was a good thing for everyone will be just a memory as residential properties gobble up real estate. Sad ...
Take out a $75,000 loan in cash and dump the cash into the nearest body of water.
Then, when you want to actually go out on a boat ride, charter a boat and consider yourself lucky you don't actually own one of these moneypits.
The day he buys a boat, and
The day he sells it!
Do what a lot of power boaters do ... park your boat in a slip and use it as a summer cottage. Sailed in the Med a few years back ... large power yachts would travel up to 300 miles to fuel in Gibraltar ... and save enough to make it worthwhile.
That model has a 1,000 gallon fuel capacity so I suggest you fuel up at 1/3 full. That way it will only cost you around $2,000 at $3.00 a gallon for diesel. - tom
You're a true sportsman, Lurker. A true sportsman. :-)
I guess I'll comment. Boo f'in Hoo. There's nothing sillier than a boat unless it's a nose ring. I wouldn't accept one as a gift unless I could put an ad in the paper to sell it the next day.
'Course that's just my opinion.
I used to live 10 minutes away from a beautiful lake north of Columbus. I would get up early and just take a short drive ... get out and take a walk ... pray ... spend time with mother nature ... enjoy the sunrise. I loved the solitude. But when summer came around ... I resented being part of mankind. The noise started before the sun came up sometimes.
Any boat longer than 20 foot is like standing naked in a cold shower tearing up 100 dollar bills.
My next boat is going to be a canoe. That'll make three.
One is an 8 foot inflatable. It's perfect for lily pad covered bass habitat. The other is an 8 foot long Coleman plastic fisher. Both of them have mounts for electric motors.
I can toss 'em in the back of the Durango and carry 'em to the waters edge. They're quiet, non-polluting, and carry two people and fishing gear almost perfectly.
I'm so glad I sold the 20 foot Maxum 5 years ago. Other than marrying Mrs. L it's just about the best decision I ever made.
A few years back that was done by many people. The high slip costs make it less attractive.
Take a 35 foot boat, at $150/foot = $5,250, Then add to that hauling, launching and winter storage which will add on another fifteen hundred or more dollars. Not using a boat still costs you money. - tom
It would cost me about $170 to fill up my Grady at gas station prices. Closer to $200 at marina prices.
I didn't go out at all after Katrina last year...but with prices close to those levels now, I guess I'm going to have to plan shorter trips this year.
I'm a working class guy and own a 21 foot duracraft deck boat. I love it, family loves it. Yes, it's expensive, but so is any hobby. It's not an investment, it's recreation. You guys do still pay to go out to eat, movies, etc. right?
Skippers of these "land yachts" feel your pain. An RV like this gets around 6-7 mpg, and holds 55 gallons of gasoline minimum. Tack on running the generator, and you can go through some gas in a hurry.
I'm interested in your essay, but not sure how to comment.
If I'm understanding correctly though, fuel prices are not that high historically, once inflation is taken into account. 'Course, with Venezuela and Iran in the picture, they may be shortly.
So, I have the feeling that during the last 20 years or so, the problem is more that boats have been built heavier, wider, larger, and with lots more horsepower, rather than that fuel has gotten overy pricey. These days, for instance, Bimini is filled with weekend warriors, all of them owning 25-35 footers, deep vees, easily suitable for short ocean passages, even in fairly rough conditions, with from 400 to 600 horsepower outboard packages, and having minimum fuel cap'y of 200 gallons. And those are just the "small" boats, as you know. And a lot of 'em are "blue collar" boats. My plumber owns a 28' deep vee with 400 hp, aluminum tower, fancy outriggers, the whole deal.
Anyway, go back 25 years, and everyone (going offshore of the reef) had 20 footers, pretty much, and with a max of 200 hp, usually considerably less, and 60-80 gallon fuel cap'y. Lots less expensive to run, still good enough to cross the Stream.
Go back another 40 years, there weren't large outboards, only 4 stroke gas engines, boats were much narrower, cut through the water nicely, burned less gas. IMO, excessive beam isn't so seaworthy anyhow, better to make it longer than wider if you want more room.
I have noticed that waterfront land is getting too expensive to be used for marinas or boat yards. Those things are dwindling, the ones that remain will get very high prices for their services.
My opinion is though, that most municipalities will keep dock space available for charter boats and visiting yachtsmen, there's still money in it, plus they can rent space for stores, restaurants, etc. Same goes for hotels, they'll want those services for their guests, plus they get a share of the take.
So I'm not sure how the boating future is for the ordinary guy, but I think it'll be OK, most of 'em keep their boats on trailers anyway, while I think space will probably be provided for the commercial guys if only for the reason that it's in the interest of other businesses to have 'em around.
Interesting question anyhow - I'm a believer in the free market, but confess that I have mixed feelings about it all, just as I do when I see farms being developed for housing, or wilderness disappearing.
That's what is happening in my town. They built two condos directly behind the boat fifty feet away. The condo owners now have first crack at any slips that become available in the Marina since the marina owner also owns the condos. People who can afford a million dollars for a condo with a great waterfront view, can certainly afford a marina slip. Some have already gotten some slips. More condos are planned for the future.
On some trips I have to leave in the dark at 4 AM and go south to another harbor to pick up a charter and be off the dock there at 5 AM. When I start the diesel engine at 4 AM I am sure it can be heard in the condos. There always will be those conflicts of interest.
Bumps in boating costs create temporary ebbs in sales, but 5 months later...
If you can afford a Cabo 45, you can afford to fill the tanks - just a small drop in the bucket compared to all the other costs of ownership. But you may take a few less offshore trips each season.
Insurance and dockage costs have gone way up - that's what worries me more. And all boat yards suck, but that's nothing new...
Do you know what BOAT stands for? Bust Out Another Thousand - woohoo!
Why would anyone own a stinkpot? Sail is the only way to go! Maybe a hundred gallons or so of diesel for the whole season for the auxillary.
Oh, and the two best days in a boat owner's life: the day you buy the boat, and the day you sell it.
*Liberals* own sailboats, fish with flyrods for small freshwater trout, cycle for sport in funny looking clothes, and hunt with expensive side by sides that cost $10,000.
*Conservatives* drive big noisy powerboats that go like hell, fish with trolling rods for billfish and sharks, ride things like swampbuggies for sport, and hunt with a bolt action.
The only cure for 'twofootitis' is quitting cold turkey. Yea, it's painful for a while but that passes.
Owning anything longer than 8 feet is like having the words 'disposable income' tattooed on your forehead.
A person with a brain divides the number of nights he thinks he will use one of those things by the cost of the best motel room. per night. Guess which is always the cheapest. Oh, I do have a 20 foot pontoon, hasn't moved out of it trailer beside the barn in about ten years.
i.e. Southport Marina and the Long Beach Pier. Oceanfront lots where the pier was seem to be starting at 1.2M, the LOT mind you.
So, we have a boating bubble?
Are you guys near Southport and Bald Head Island NC?
Remember this.... our country is only a major terror strike away from chaos, and when that happens I am heading straight to the marina and sailing away. With the sails up I can get 10,000 miles per gallon.
Oak Island, about 2 blocks from old Long Beach pier. I'm glad I bought my place 2yrs ago before prices took off. I'm happy about price appreciation but I know I couldn't afford it now and, like the boating issue, I worry about beach cottage ownership and vacation for the working fella and his family.
>We got 5mpg. If we wanted to sweat like pigs, it gets 8mpg without the generator.<
I hear ya. There are a lot of decent RV's for sale in my area. It's definitely a buyer's market. I feel sorry for one woman with a beautiful Winnebago Class A for sale. It's a 99, in like new shape. They used it in their work. Her husband died recently, so she's selling it. It's been sitting on the lot owned by her friends now for quite a while. Sad.
Thanks for the cheery advice.
I own a sailboat. Don't ask me why. Even a flyrod.
Quite right, quite right. Caviar prices are out of sight, this season's Coach collar for Major Bowser just isn't as nice as last season's, and flawless 5-carat diamonds are getting harder and harder to find.
No kidding. I only enjoy going out a couple of times per year. For a few grand, I can have my hands on a boat that's worth over 100 times that, and I don't have to deal with upkeep.
Your on target there Sam.
We used to take out the CEO of a Boston investment group. He would come out with us alone, about 6 times a season. We asked him why he didn't bring others,since he was paying for a 6 person trip. He would say he didn't want anyone getting seasick and causing us to go in early.(We fished offshore in some pretty rough stuff a lot of times. He wanted to go on certain day and if it was rough so what. He could take it.
We asked him why he didn't just get his own boat, which he could easily afford and he said it wasn't worth is in the long run moneywise or aggravation wise. He fished all over the world and you can't bring your boat with you. So he was glad to charter. - tom
WE have 3 kayaks, and a duckboat with a long-tailed motor. We use the kayaks most of all.