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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

Rising gas prices hit area's boaters, too

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Chad Robbins, shop manager at B&B Boats and Bikes, replaces spark plugs in a boat.
SIKESTON -- If last summer is anything to go by, then high fuel prices won't keep boaters out of the water this summer.

"So far there's a lot of boats on the lake but Memorial Day weekend will be a good indicator of how the prices will affect boating this year," said Rod Howard, owner of Holiday Landing Resort and Marina at Lake Wappapello.

Sgt. Ralph L. Bledsoe, public information director for Missouri State Water Patrol, agreed boaters are already enjoying the nice weather.

"Last year it jumped from winter to summer, and this year, it's the same thing," Bledsoe said. "There's a short time in spring where it's not cold for long and then it gets really warm."

Fuel at the marina's pumps cost $2.83 per gallon as of Thursday but is expected to rise as the season progresses. Howard estimated the Wappapello marina peak fuel price last summer was $2.92 per gallon.

"We can only go by what is predicted by oil companies, and they're saying gas will be going up to $3 a gallon," Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe said he doesn't think higher fuel prices will prevent boaters from escaping to lakes this year.

"It didn't last year, but what it did stop them from doing was cruising on the lake," Bledsoe said. "They just found an area they liked, pulled in those areas and shut off the motors."

Another trend last year was boaters -- who had the capability -- pulling their boats off the lake, loading them onto trailers and taking them to fill up at gas stations in town since landlocked pumps are typically cheaper than marina pumps, Bledsoe said.

In Bledsoe's experience, landlocked pumps are about 30 cents per gallon cheaper than marinas, he said.

Chad Robbins, shop manager of B&B Boats and Bikes in Sikeston, said it'd definitely be expensive to run a boat this summer. Robbins said he's already "summerizing," or making sure boats are ready to run by checking fluids, engines, etc.

"I personally have a friend that just told me he wasn't getting his boat out this year just because of gas prices," Robbins said.

But Robbins said he's simply going to buy a boat with a smaller motor to get better gas mileage.

Boaters are just looking for ways to save money, Bledsoe said.

"We're seeing a lot of boats every warm day heading to the lake," Bledsoe said. "I think a lot of them are thinking fuel is going to go up, and that's one of reasons there's more traffic now. They're getting out now in case the price goes up to an unreasonable rate."

To ensure boating season lasts all summer, these tips provided by Missouri State Water Patrol, could help stretch fuel dollars:

-- Leave the extra "junk" at home. Don't load the boat up with weight you don't need. A boat with less weight operates more efficiently.

-- Tune your boat up. A tune-up is an excellent investment and could easily pay for itself over a summer.

-- Tune your prop. You can lose up to 5 mph of boat speed with a poorly tuned propeller. If the prop is dinged or out of pitch, you can lose 10 percent of your speed and that converts to a 10 percent loss in fuel economy.

-- Clean your boat's bottom. A fouled bottom is like a dull knife so it takes a lot more effort (fuel) to push it through the water.

-- Watch your RPMs. Operate the boat at a speed that will keep it on plane without over revving the motor. Idling or shutting off your motor for longer periods of time will help save fuel.

-- Be conscious of your operation time on the water. Limit your skiing type recreations and look for activities that do not require the use of fuels.