This is a picture of my daughter water skiing of the back of my Mastercraft boat named "Deep Water". I purchase my gas in Wisconsin because of lower gas taxes. The Cook County and City of Chicago gas taxes really add up. Whenever possible, make sure you fill your tank up in Indiana or outside of Cook County. I am also lucky to have three young sons that paddle like crazy to reduce fuel consumption. I see a depression heading towards Chicago, so save your money. Click below on the Boating Story from the Chicago Sun-Times. Photo by Patrick McDonough.
In dock, or in hock
YACHTS STAY ANCHORED | Boaters with gas pains try dinghies, cut trips
BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org
There's Big Cuban Pete and Little Cuban Pete, and they both float in Belmont Harbor.
But the six horses that power Little Cuban Pete, a dinghy, consume a fraction of the gas it takes to feed the 360 horses on its 25-foot counterpart. So for Pete Zamora (you can probably guess his heritage), it's cruise in the dinghy and party on the bigger boat.
"A lot more guys are using their dinghies," he said.
"I cringe when I fill up my boat," said Zamora, a Norwood Park native who pays about $600 to top off -- nearly $200 more than he paid last year. "If these boats go out, most go as far as Navy Pier, that's it -- unless they have a sail."
Despite slips being at a premium at Chicago's nine harbors, gas sales have dropped about 15 percent this year. This week, gas cost $5.19 a gallon at Belmont Harbor. A year ago, it cost about $4.40, said Scott Stevenson, who manages the harbors.
Gas costs have made using auxiliary crafts a trend.
"It's pretty typical. Many of our boaters have Jet Skis or dinghies they keep with their bigger boats . . . even though gas is expensive, boaters are finding ways to make the best of it," said Stevenson.
Going slower and slashing long trips in favor of dropping anchor close to home are other ways boaters are conserving fuel.
Some rarely leave the dock. "They come down and use their boats kind of like a summer cottage," Stevenson said.
The average boater uses his boat about 33 days a year -- a number that has remained constant -- said Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association. New powerboat sales are down 16 percent, he added.
Chicago's charter fishermen are hurting, too. "My business is down about 50 percent," said Allen Skalecke, who runs Captain Al's, one of a handful of charter fishing operations in the city. His costs are 20 percent higher than last year because of gas, resulting in a fuel surcharge. "I'm just bumping along, hoping next year might be different," he said.
Wendella Boats, which offers river architecture and lake tours, has mostly avoided price increases to stay competitive. But gas costs bite into the bottom line.
One bright spot on the water is Chicago Water Taxi, also owned by Wendella.
Business is up 70 percent over the last two years as public transportation has become more popular, company spokesman Gregg Pupecki said.