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Here Is What Boat Owners Have to Say to the Rising Gas Prices

While gas prices continue to rise, the commercial passenger vessel and boat rental industry fear the consequence of charging higher rates to combat the inflation as it will cost thousands of dollars to fill their boat’s gas tank.

SAN DIEGO—Skyrocketing gas prices across Southern California and much of the U.S. has far-reaching impacts, especially for local businesses operating on the water.

From whale watching to boat rental companies, owners say it’s getting more costly to do business.


Experts say Russia’s war on Ukraine and an increase in gas demand coupled with a reduction in total supply are contributing to the prices, which will probably keep rising as crude prices continue to climb.


Andy Kurtz is the owner of Seaforth Boat Rental in San Diego.  


 “We operate a large fleet of boats in mission bay and San Diego Bay,” said Kurtz in an email from March 22. “We have everything from skiffs to yachts. Sail and power. The price of fuel is a huge concern. Our product is very price sensitive. We cannot just raise prices; people will find other things to do. The governor’s “rebate” doesn’t help to offset our expected $100k plus additional fuel expense. We need relief at the pump. We have dealt with the pandemic, labor shortages, labor rates. We need some help on this one!”


Gas boats are already costly to operate; the rise in gas prices has only induced that burden. On average, a speedboat can hold around 250 gallons of gas in its fuel tank. However, the range can vary from 150 gallons or less for a small motorboat to 1,000 gallons or more for a big speedboat, meaning a full tank is costing thousands of dollars with the current gas prices.


According to AAA, in Los Angeles County, the average gas price for regular-grade fuel is $5.37 per gallon — up from $4.67 a month ago and $3.79 a year ago. The national average is $4 per gallon. At the Hyatt Fuel Dock in Mission Bay, the price for unleaded was even higher, at more than 8 dollars a gallon. Gas prices in the U.S. reached their highest levels on March 6 since 2008. 


“Our stuff is price sensitive,” Kurtz said. “I can’t just add $18 per hour to a rental, so it ends up taking it from the bottom line.”


California’s 51 cents a gallon gas excise tax, which pays into transportation costs such as road maintenance and repairs, is the highest of any state in the U.S. 


Recently, there have been calls statewide to temporarily suspend the tax, including in a newsletter co-authored this week by San Diego County Supervisors Joel Anderson and Jim Desmond.


“This is not a partisan issue,” said Desmond in the newsletter from FOX 5. “This is hitting everybody left and right, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on.”


Meantime, Kurtz estimated that he’s expecting more than $100,000 of increased costs this year. As much as 40 percent of that may be imposed upon his customers to acclimate to the price increase.


According to Plan M8, average diesel prices range from $3.2-$3.9 per gallon, and the average petrol prices range from $7.2 – $7.8 per gallon.


Current Fuel Prices in Southern California:

Not all fuel docks were able to provide current pricing. 


– Dana Landing Fuel Dock in San Diego was $8.29 per gallon for petrol as of March 22.

– Alamitos Bay Marine Fuel Docks I Long Beach was $6.79 per gallon for petrol as of March 22.

– The Jankovich Company in San Pedro cannot publicize current gas prices.

– Island Marine Fuel in Newport Beach is. $5.60 per gallon for diesel as of March 22.

– Channel Islands Harbor Marine Fuel Dock is $6.30 per gallon for petrol as of March 22. 

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