Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Power v. Sail...

The price of fuel has impacted a lot of boaters, particularly those with power boats. Marine diesel fuel is selling for over $5 per gallon in Alameda, and just under $5 almost everywhere else in the country. For sail boaters, this is not so bad a tank full (about twenty gallons) should last as year. After all, sail boats use their engines sparingly, which is why they are called auxiliary engines. It’s not quite the same for power boaters, but one could argue it evened out, since sails are expensive and need to be replaced every few years - almost the price of fuel. I'm not so sure anymore.

Randy Alcorn in southern California noticed that when he fueled up his J105 sail boat just before embarking on the San Diego-Ensenada race, there was a big power boat next to him. Randy took on eight gallons of fuel, the power boater took on 479 gallons. The power boater asked Randy how long eight gallons would last? “Most of the summer,” said Randy. “Well, this will only take me to Marina del Rey,” responded the power boater.

His bill was $1700, and he was happy that the dealer gave him a break at every 150 gallons. Randy observed that $1700 would buy a nice mainsail for his Cal 2-29, and the sail would last several years.

Scott Sauvageot, who sails the Chesapeake Bay in his Cal says that he was chatting with a work colleague of his who shares his love of the Chesapeake. “We differ on how to enjoy it,” he said. “While I love my sailboat, she is a ‘full throttle’ girl. She has a 35' power boat of about 2006 vintage. It has large twin inboard engines.” She told Scott that gas prices are keeping her at the dock because a day on the water cost her easily over $200, depending on how long she takes the boat out.

”She looked crestfallen,” said Scott, “when I told her I'm still sailing nearly every weekend, and my total fuel consumption for the year (since 1/1) has only been around 10 gallons.” Maybe if one purchases top shelf racing sails every couple of years it evens out, but most sailors don’t replace sails that often. And, continues Scott, “I'm not fouling the air or polluting the marine habitat with my sailboat.”

Then, another acquaintance reported that in Florida, where the credit crunch and mortgage foreclosure crisis has hit some boat owners, there are boat owners with big power boats who can no longer afford to pay for their marina slips, much less pay for fuel. All they want to do is get out from under, and they’re willing to give their boats to brokers just to get them off their hands. Yet, brokers, he said, can’t sell the big power boats they have and are turning away owners.

Well, some of this may be apocryphal, but I’m sure glad that I sail and don’t buzz about in a power boat. Fair winds sure beats exhaust fumes and an empty wallet.


Blogger Zen said...

Yes indeed!, Same here. A green sport that is ga$ friendly

11:55 PM  

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