WILL BOATERS PLAY OR PAY?
Will Boaters Play or Pay?
By Barb Hansen
When the going gets tough, the tough…go boating.
If we didn't already know that big banks were folding, we're reminded daily by bold headlines, shouting TV pundits and screen images from Washington showing our representatives wringing their collective hands.
Boaters always take bad news badly. Confronted by bad economic news, our instinct tells us to start wearing a frown and stop spending time on the boat. That's exactly wrong.
Yes, these are tough times but -- think about it -- now more than ever we need our boats to help us keep on an even keel emotionally and physically.
We've been down this road before. September 2001 comes to mind. Things looked pretty bleak. Remember how worried we were then about the future of our sport?
Well, as you know, things got better. They usually do.
In a column I wrote then I said if you were a citizen of the 1950s you lived in an economy still recovering from the great depression and a world war. Some made enough money to buy a wooden boat just right for a rented five horsepower kicker. Not bad in those days.
But the economy got even better. Fiberglass boats appeared. Outboard motors got bigger and fast enough even to water ski. Families traded in little boats for bigger boats. Cruising boats got bigger and more comfortable.
Then in the late 1970s gas prices soared because the oil-producing cartel cut back on production. It was so bad that President Carter said maybe boating should be banned on weekends. That's how politicians think.
In the 1980s our elected representatives, thinking that all boaters were rich and richer, put a 10 percent luxury tax on "yachts." A luxury tax, they called it. Boat plants closed. Thousands lost their jobs. What were the politicians thinking?
They finally repealed that stupid tax. And things got better.
These tough times will pass, too, and boating will have another long run in the sunshine.
We're already seeing a silver lining. The slowing economy has brought down gasoline and diesel prices.
Indeed, when people put a sharp pencil to the calculation they discover that boating is not nearly as expensive as they imagined and often it is less expensive than other recreational activities.
Vic and I are getting into the lets-go-cruising mood and making lists of friends we'd like to join us. In the past, we've taken many friends cruising and some got so hooked on it they bought boats, too.
As the media keep reminding us, times are tough and may be getting tougher. Okay. But that doesn't mean we should stop being with the people we love and stop doing the things that make our lives whole.
It's also better for boating businesses and for competition, which keeps prices low. Support your favorite marinas. Dine at your favorite waterfront restaurants.
We need the companies that make boats or charter them. Support them because, you know, the government will not. Only banks get that special treatment.
We boaters are going to pay. Let's not forget to play.