CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — Retailers say boat sales have soared over the past two years even as the global pandemic shut down just about everything else.
This year’s boating season is fast approaching as gasoline prices hit new records.
At the Progressive Cleveland Boat Show, which kicked off Thursday, fuel prices aren’t expected to have much of an impact on the industry.
The show, at the IX Center, features just about anything that floats, from kayaks to bass boats, ski boats, pontoon boats and other pleasure craft.
Much of this year’s show features fast-growing ‘paddle sports’
But many boats have large 4-stroke engines and fuel tanks ranging from 40 gallons to a 225 gallon tank.
Some of the motors can cost $60,000 on their own, without the boat attached.
But the industry has been scrambling to develop lighter, more fuel-efficient 4-stroke engines, and even the biggest boats at the show all have outboard motors.
“Typically when people search for outboards, you’re talking about quiet motors, you’re talking about fuel efficiency, you’re talking about something that doesn’t smoke like the old two-strokes,” City Marine’s John Riddle said in Eastlake. .
“Boating is an expensive hobby in the first place, so everyone kind of knows there’s going to be a bit of a shift in fuel,” he added.
The sentiment is repeated often by vendors and by visitors.
“I think once you’ve really gotten a taste of being on the water, it’s hard to go back,” said Jennette Lloyd, spokesperson for the boat show.
“Just to address fuel prices and things like that, on Lake Erie, wherever you are. You can access a lot of things pretty close, so you’re not sitting there consuming fuel,” she added.
From a well-dressed Q25 pontoon boat with a 48-gallon tank listed at over $140,000 to a jaw-dropping Pardo 38 yacht selling for $938,960 on display at the show, the general belief is that the cost of fuel is only a small percentage of the total cost of owning a boat.
Paul Ochs, the sales manager of Catawba Moorings which exhibits the Pardo Yacht, says he tells his customers that between the cost of their boat, marina fees and other incidentals, they should calculate their fuel cost as no more than about 25% of what they will spend.
Some anglers who rate boats as an upgrade to what they currently own consider what their fuel costs might be.
“I don’t want to have to buy a big fiberglass boat and spend $100 to $150 every time I go fishing. It’s not affordable for me, said Jim Enderes of Cleveland.
Others simply view the price of fuel as an acceptable part of their favorite outdoor recreation activity.
“Fuel, yes but no. If I go fishing, I go fishing, you know? So I know the fuel is going crazy and everything, but I’m going there so I really don’t care,” said Ashland’s Mike Weirich.
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