The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts the average price of gas to be $2.33 a gallon in 2015, climbing to $2.72 in 2016. This is down from the 2014 average of $3.36. The EIA also estimates that “the typical U.S. household will save $750 this year because of reduced gasoline prices and another $750 because of lower heating oil and propane costs.”
While we hold our collective breath and wait to see what these savings might mean for the upcoming boating season, the charter industry in southern climes is already reaping the benefits.
“[Diesel] fuel prices in the BVIs have dropped on average from $5.75 a gallon to $4.30,” says Raul Bermudez, vice president of Marine Max’s charter division. “On a power cat like the Aquila 48, we’re seeing customers that were spending $1,500 in fuel now spend $1,200 or $1,000. On some of our larger yacht charters we’ve seen a 15- to 20-percent drop in our total trip costs.”
But it’s not just at the pump where Bermudez is seeing the opportunity for savings, “Our operational expenses are being lowered. Overall production costs are cut and our boats ride on their own hulls from New Orleans to the BVIs, which allows us to sell our Aquila line for less.”
Rives Potts, president and general manager for Brewer Yacht Yards and Marinas, predicts that lower fuel prices will have a widespread, and positive, impact on the industry.
“Any good news on the financial front is helpful. If people are feeling more financially confident, then they’ll be more interested in making their leisure time more enjoyable, and boating is one of the best ways to do that,” explains Potts. “There is a lot of trickle down. From service yards, to restaurants, and package stores … this can have a major impact on boating.”
Fuel prices—like many things affected by the global economy—are a fickle thing to predict, but there is one certainty: Millions of boaters, from Seattle to Florida and beyond, are hoping that lower prices at the pump add up to more time spent out on the water.