Boating Survey Reveals Effects of High Fuel Prices

Following the soaring fuel prices recreational boaters witnessed at the pumps this summer and fall, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and the Recreational Marine Research Center (RMRC) at Michigan State University (MSU) collaborated to survey the habits of power boaters based on the high cost of fuel.

According to the executive summary of the report, eight out of 10 boat owners took their primary boat out on the water less often in 2008 than 2007 and said it was due to the higher cost of fueling their boats. The summary also revealed that while many boaters did adjust to the fuel prices, they operated their boat less, reducing cruising speeds, cruising distances and idling time.

While most powerboat owners spent more on fuel in 2008, the cost did not stop them from boating. Sixty-four percent said they spent more on fuel in the first seven months of 2008 and six out of 10 said it would take gasoline prices to hit $5 (per gallon) or more to have them no longer operate their primary boat. The summary also reported that one percent of boaters completely stopped participating in boating in 2008 as a result the rising fuel prices.

On a more positive note, nearly 76 percent of powerboat owners are not considering any changes in their participation in recreational boating in 2009. Just four percent of current traditional powerboat owners plan to sell their primary boat without purchasing a new boat this year.

The summary also reported that a quarter of all powerboat owners say they will change their boating participation activities in 2009 by:

•    operating their boat less (47 percent)
•    reducing cruising distances (32 percent)
•    operating their boat at lower speeds (27percent)
•    stop boating until better times (22 percent)
•    reducing the amount of time their boat is used for water sports (19 percent)