Higher gas prices affecting boaters

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Alex Cabrero reporting High gas prices along with the steady economic downturn are affecting more than just drivers. They're hitting boaters hard, as well, as they pull their boats to lakes then use gas to run the motor.

Because of that, many boat dealers are having big sales.

There are a lot of new boats just sitting in lots all across Utah because times are tough right now. Of course, most people who have boats have a little extra income. But even then, it's another example of how our economy is affecting everyone.

Higher gas prices affecting boaters

Ogden resident George Whiting said, "You get out on the water, it's really nice."

On a perfect summer day like this one, Whiting can think of only one thing to do. "Sailing is kind of a thrill, whether you're going fast or slow," he said.

He's sailing not just on any lake, but on the one and only Great Salt Lake. Whiting says he prefers the wide open lake, the peace and quiet, and he truly feels like he can get away from it all. But he also admits the Great Salt Lake is a lot closer to his Ogden home than Bear Lake, where he used to keep his boat.

And lately, he's not the only one. "I think people are having their boats here instead of putting them away at another lake, farther away," he said.

The price of fuel to pull boats may be the main reason. It's no secret higher gas prices have affected everything involving transportation. The economy has also affected boat sales.

Shae Cross, store manager of Marine Max, said, "In Salt Lake City, the sales are slightly down relative to last year."

The company, nationwide, is having a huge boat sale this weekend, trying to find buyers who have a little extra money right now.

"Even if they do have disposable income, they're not as inclined to part with it right now, just to see how things go," Cross said.

Because sales are down at Marine Max and at other boating companies, they are offering sales and doing anything they can to get people involved in the boating industry, so the economy doesn't affect their industry the way it has the housing industry.

But George Whiting says the economy won't stop him from doing what he loves. In fact, he doesn't even think it's bad. "I think the economy is good. Everybody says it's bad, so eventually people are going to believe it."

Of course, there are mostly sail boats on Salt Lake, and wind is free. Gas, as we all know, is not.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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