When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Boating! by Jeff Varvil
As spring boating season gains momentum throughout United States boaters everywhere are gearing up for some tough battles. High gas and insurance prices combined with high unemployment rates is not a great recipe for a boaters market. Or is it? “That’s just not the case.” Says Rey Carlson, who is the Sales Manager for the Seattle West Marine Store. “People suddenly find they have some time on their hands. They already own a boat and the next logical move is to go out and use it!” That seems to fall in line with many of the surveys this rag writer took over the past week. I talked with Mike Morgan a long time customer at West Marine this weekend and I asked him a few questions about how the economy has affected his boating. “If I need it for my boat I buy it basically.” “Gas prices were higher last year but my time is more valuable to me, it really makes no difference if my gas costs me $35 or $100 to fill up, I can’t run without it!” “Don’t get me wrong I don’t run out and buy things I do not need. But If I need new flares by god I buy new flares.” “West Marine sent me a book with some specials and thats why I am here today!” That seems to fall in line with what most retailers are reporting also. They are all taking a more aggressive stance on in tight times being proactive instead of reactive. Fisheries supply spokesperson Stacy stoops said “We send our people out to their events. We offer groups such as boating organizations breaks and that helps in times like these.”
I found that many people I spoke with are opting to fix their older boats up instead of buying a new one. “For around $300 in paint you can make a 30 year old boat sparkle like new again and sneak in some family time” says James Crow of Portland. James was one of the casualties of the Pheiser Pharmaceutical layoffs recently. “I was a 15 year employee; they are kind of giving me an extended leave without pay for 3 months and I am taking full advantage of it. My family time is important to me and many of the last few years I have worried more about work than my kids. My boys and I are painting the boat this weekend and then were launching her in the Columbia for some salmon fishing!” God I love that American spirit. The average bottom paint runs anywhere from $130 to $300 a gallon. This is a cheap investment considering the price of a new boat. Or is it?
For those of you with some money saved up there is no better time to buy. Mike Kirshenbaum is the operations Manager at Sport Boat Northwest. In his 35 years in the business he said now is the time to buy because he said it is a total buyers market. “The prices on the new boats have come down to where it really drops the prices of the used boats. For instance a 2007 18’ Four Winns that last year sold at $25,000 is this year selling for $14,500.” “People are staying closer to home for sure, but they are also investing in fun for the first time in many years” With a 25 year high unemployment rate nearing 8% here in the Seattle area expect to see more people on the water this year than in the past. With those people staying close to home it actually gives the local economy a boost in items such as grocery sales and gas.
With so many Lakes and thousands of miles of coast lines Washington, Oregon and Alaska offer family’s near endless opportunity to get the kids away from the Playstations and onto and into the water. My children have grown up in and around the water. I grew up on Lake Superior and some of my fondest memories are of my father, grandfather and a seven year old mental terrorist names Jeff on the water together. As Heraclitus said, “Through Strife all things come into being.” Simply put, when the going gets tough, the tough go boating.