CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – While Memorial Day business was booming on Monday, getting a boat on the water was much harder this year for those that wanted to celebrate the occasion.
As ethanol-free gasoline sails far over $5 per gallon at some pumps, boat owners locked into using that specific fuel are seeing the cost of a day on the water skyrocket compared to previous years.
“About half a day, just going about 10 to 15 miles an hour, I’ll burn through 25 gallons,” boat owner Ryan Mosier said. “It’s a large consumption for sure.”
To take the whole family out and spend a full day, it’s even more.
“You’re thinking 200 bucks just to get out on the water,” Mosier said.
As any boat owner will tell you, however, unexpected costs are par for the course when you command your own vessel.
“Boats are maintenance, I mean that’s what you pay for,” Mosier said. “They stand for ‘Bust Out Another Thousand.’ Gas prices aren’t cheap. Over $5 a gallon for ethanol-free gasoline you’ve got to purchase for these. Boat maintenance, it’s anything that’s exposed to water. You’re going to have extra costs that you’ve got to worry about.”
Wait times for key engine parts and slip spots are up too, and Mosier said he saw some lakes with year-long reservation times just to tie off a vessel.
“You’ve got lead times on them, it takes a while to get them in,” Mosier said. “Luckily, my pontoon that I have here is actually a 4.3l Mercruiser, so it’s like a car engine. So the parts are more easily accessible than someone that has an outboard that they’re part-specific.”
For those that want to enjoy their time out, a broken part can mean the difference between good memories and a quiet drive home.
“Once it goes out, your day’s over,” Mosier said. “You don’t have a Plan B.”
Despite the costs, private and public boat launches were full around the perimeter of Watauga Lake when the Mosiers were visiting. From kayaks to houseboats, locals and tourists alike flocked to the water to cool off and celebrate those who gave their lives in service to their country.