NJ boaters shell out big bucks, helping keep local economy afloat
The next time you're on a boat, a study provides something to consider: How much that fun actually costs.
Monmouth University's Urban Coast Institute examined spending by Mid-Atlantic saltwater recreational boaters and determined that Garden State boaters take more trips on the water than those in Delaware, Virginia and Maryland.
The report is based on data collected by the UCI and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean, or MARCO, during a six-month survey project and analyzed by students from Monmouth University.
New Jersey boat owners take about five trips out on the water per month, but Delaware boat owners spend the night on their vessels more frequently and Virginians are willing to travel the farthest for a day at sea, according to UCI spokesman Karl Vilacoba. He points out a leisurely day at sea isn't cheap.
"During those trips, they're spending $300 plus. You can really begin to see that this is very big money and very important to the economy of New Jersey," said Vilacoba.
The largest expenses were for maintenance, equipment and repairs totaling about $86, fuel and or oil totaling about $78 and food and drinks costing about $50.
Nearly double that, or $727, is spent without even leaving the dock, according to Vilacoba.
"The largest expense of that group was about $474 for maintenance equipment and repairs," Vilacoba said.
That's a drop in the ocean when you consider the total annual non-trip expense of owning a boat is $7,722, according to Vilacoba. That includes financing, insurance, and fees for storage and documentation.
Vilacoba noted that the economic impact of recreational boating crosses state lines. Respondents reported at least some portion of their expenses occurred outside of the state where their boat was launched on 14 percent of on-water trips.
A reason why New Jersey boaters take more trips per month may be due to the fact that the state has such a long coastline and greater, easier access to water, according to Vilacoba. And based on interactive mapping, he said boaters in New Jersey usually stay within a mile of the coastline, frequenting inlets and bays.
"We saw a whole lot of activity around Sandy Hook for instance, we saw a lot of activity in Barnegat Bay, in places like Shark River Inlet and Manasquan Inlet," said Vilacoba.
The survey also asked boat owners about the impact of Superstorm Sandy on their vessels: 7 percent reported their boats were damaged during the storm, with about half receiving a small amount of damage, 36 percent reporting moderate damage and 12 percent sustaining a large amount of damage.
The report was the second of a two-phase project, according to Vilacoba. Survey participants completed questionnaires about spending and trip activities, and they also used an online program to digitally map their trip routes and activities.