Rising fuel prices not only affect drivers, but also boaters. As the boating season kicks off ahead of Memorial Day weekend, a marina official said boaters can save gas by staying closer to port and slowing down.
Gasoline at a marina can be slightly more than what drivers pay at the pump, but Tom Pirro, who opened the Winter Harbor Marina in Brewerton in 1998, said that as the cost of fuel increases, he would rather keep prices low to attract more boaters to his marina.
“We’ve been coming here since 2002, 2003. Tom has long been known to have the cheapest fuel on the river,” said customer Bill Harrison, one of 400 top cruise lines Pirro sees throughout the season.
Earlier this week, Pirro was charging $5.39 a gallon for 90-octane gasoline and $5.99 for diesel. Pirro said the average infill for a 25-30 foot boat would be $150-200 and that would be enough for a long weekend – for now.
“We’ve seen them go up almost $2 a gallon since last fall. It sometimes fluctuates two to three times a week, upwards. They said this Memorial weekend it was going to go up even more. We have boats that go through, larger cruisers that will take 2,000 gallons for a full tank. We’ve heard stories that they paid $7.80 on the Hudson for diesel, which is staggering,” Pirro said.
Big, long-haul boats, like Harrison’s, which goes all the way to the St. Lawrence, can spend thousands of dollars to refuel, but Pirro and Harrison said that won’t be as deterrent as some might. think it.
The pandemic created a high demand for boats and a shortage of supply, which continues today.
“People have been bound by COVID for so long, I think they feel like they’re just going to hang out, have fun and enjoy [regardless of the cost]”, said Pirro.
“It just doesn’t make sense to own very expensive equipment and let it sit,” Harrison said.
Although boaters may be looking to save money this summer, Pirro cautions about the type they use. Cheaper E15 fuels, a blend of 15% ethanol and 85% gasoline federally approved for sale this summer, are not suitable for boats and burn faster.
Instead, Pirro said boaters can adjust the way they drive to maximize profitability.
“They can reduce the speed at which they go. If the boats are planing at 25 or 35 mph, they will consume three times more than if they are traveling at 10 mph. They should make sure they service and keep their boats in top condition because the value of used boats has skyrocketed,” he said.