Gas Prices Endangering Summer Recreation Season

July 1, 2008

As soon as gas prices started skyrocketing in April, sales of boats and recreational vehicles started plummeting, as many news sources have pointed out. While some industry sources claim that sales will remain decently strong, based on the belief (hope?) that people will cut back in areas other than their boat and RV spending, it is difficult to deny that there has not been an effect due to these rising costs. Just go to google trends and check out searches for RV or RV accessories compared to last year. Ouch.

So what to do? Many of us will go out on the boat less and shorten our RV trips. Some may even substitute RV tripping altogether; remember when you bought the RV to save money on hotel and motel costs? Hmmm. As for boating, I have some friends who are consolidating boat ownership, literally selling shares in their boat and agreeing to split fuel costs, spreading it out over as many regular passengers as possible. Does this make four- and five-person runabouts less efficient than a big bowrider? I guess it could if you got enough people on board.

MyGallons.com makes an interesting proposal. They essentially let you hedge against rising gas prices by pre-paying for fuel right now. While the fee structure makes it difficult to see major savings without a major supply shock for many automobile drivers, it strikes me as a pretty good idea for RV and boat owners, for whom 50 gallons of gas is just a weekend away. I know you can do the math, but I’ll make it easy: Say you buy 100 gallons and gas goes up $0.30. There’s the yearly fee right there, and you’ve only bought two tanks of gas for your boat, so why not buy twice that? Does anyone really expect gas to get cheaper?

Times are tough. A little creativity can go a long way.

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