ANNAPOLIS – They say that if you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it. And so it is that in the world of muscular power boats on display this weekend at the Annapolis Boat Show, talk of $3 for a gallon for boat fuel or $450 to gas up the Surfhunter 29 gets brushed off like a bit of bow spray.
“If you’re worrying about the price of gas, then you shouldn’t be buying a boat,” said Albert Anderson, owner of Florida Marina and Boat Sales in Pasadena. “Boaters are always going to have to put gas in their boats to do what they’re going to do no matter how much they have to spend on gas.”
The Annapolis Powerboat Show, which runs through Oct. 16, caters to boaters who can afford to buy big, he said, and gas prices don’t have much of an impact on their lives.
The show features a wide array of high-end boats from 50-foot motor-yachts and catamarans, to 25-foot fishing boats and cruisers.
Anderson said Florida Marina sells 18 to 25-foot powerboats, which are some of the smaller boats at the show. Their gas tanks hold 40 to 50 gallons of fuel and cost $120 to $150 to fill up for a weekend, he said, but boaters have no problem paying that cost.
“This show is just that kind of a show,” he said. “It’s full of big buyers, and the cost of fuel has not deterred any of them as far as we can see.”
High gas prices have actually helped to sell more boats with diesel engines, said Yung Chia of True World Marine, based in Little Ferry, N.J.
Catering to charter captains and fisherman, boats that use diesel fuel can help to save a lot of money on operating costs and can also give a boat more power to be able to haul more weight, he said.
Diesel fuel and gasoline cost about the same, but a large boat using gas would burn about 20 to 25 gallons an hour, while using diesel fuel, it would burn only five or six gallons an hour, he said.
“If you are running a business and you want a low cost operation, then you might care about gas prices, and you might care about using diesel fuel,” he said. “But people who buy bigger boats are spending up to $500,000. They couldn’t care less about the cost of gasoline.”
It may be too early to tell if gas prices will have any long-term effect on boaters, said Mike Dobson, manager of Diamond T. Marina in Norfolk, Va.
But so far, it doesn’t seem like gas prices have influenced buyers at all, he said.
Diamond T. Marina sells 20 to 23-foot Albury Brothers fishing boats, which cost around $30,000.
“The more they cost, the less buyers are worried about the cost of gas,” Dobson said.
The boats typically have 100-gallon gas tanks, and can go for about 200 miles at 45 miles per hour before refueling, he said.
Joe Cullen, sales manager for Bay Watersports in Grasonville, said it is hard to tell if gasoline is changing boater’s habits because it is the end of the season, so not as many boaters are on the water anyway.
“It’s an expensive hobby,” he said. “So gas isn’t going to be much of an issue.”
Prospective buyers at the show said gasoline prices would not be a factor in deciding which boat to buy.
“It’s insignificant compared to the cost of buying and owning the boat,” said Pittsburgh resident Shane Filer. “It wouldn’t matter at all.”
Thom Sevco of Tilghman Island said gas prices would not deter him from buying a boat. “You gotta get it,” he said. “And once you get it, you gotta put gas in it. That’s all there is to it.”