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Marinas are optimistic, but weather isn't helping

FINGER LAKES—The summer boating season is here and marina owners are wondering if this summer will be like last year.
“Due to weather, things are looking slow,” said Cheryl Bowers, with East Bluff Harbor in Penn Yan, about how the year looks thus far.
“Weather is hurting us more than anything,” said Don Roberts Jr., owner of Glen Harbor Marina in Watkins Glen.
In Geneva at Roy’s Marina, Larry Japp said business has been down because of the weather this year compared to last year. However, for Memorial Day weekend, he said it was “three days of solid busy.”
“I don’t think people decided it was summer until last week,” said George Jamison, owner of Jamison Marine in Campbell, who sells boats to people in the area. “(The season) doesn’t start until July 4.”  Bowers added, “in our books it’s not really summer yet.”
In some way or another, marinas and boat sellers are still seeing people spending money on boating. Japp said the last three years the Geneva marina has been pretty much booked, most from returning customers. For Glen Harbor Marina sales are already more than last year at this time. Roberts said so far this year the marina has sold 13 boats (new and used), which is more than what was sold last year at the same time. His marina is also up in revenue from services and boat accessory sales. Roberts said people are also putting more money into their existing boats.
Bowers said she has seen something slightly different. Her boaters are spending more money on fixing up their boats instead of buying new ones.
“The service shop is off the wall,” Jamison said about how busy his business has been fixing boats. He said accessories, parts and services sales are up. However, accessory sales are up because the business expanded its shop.
Roberts added that this year in general is better than last year, which was a “nightmare year.” One indicator for him is how rarely people are talking about the economy. Last year his customers mentioned the condition of the economy a lot.
Bowers said her customers are renting boats for shorter periods of time. Where boats were rented for a week at a time, people are now taking them for two to three days. She said customers are doing this to wait and see what the weather is like. People do this so they are not renting boats on days it is not nice enough to go out on the lake.
One trend Jamison has seen in the last four years is an increase in pontoon boat sales. He added most of his buyers are over age 60.
Japp said he has had to make room for bigger boats, 21 to 24 feet long as opposed to the usual 16 to 20 feet long. In the last two years he swapped out nine smaller slips for ones that would accommodate the bigger boats. Roy’s Marina houses 65 slips.
Gas prices have also affected some boaters. Bowers said boats idle out on the lake more. Last year at Labor Day Japp said he thought the marina would run out of gas. Even though it was $5 per gallon at the time, people still spent the money to be out on the lake.
Bowers said customers seem to have the mentality that this is their vacation so they are still spending money on boating.
 



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