Staying Afloat Without Drowning in Debt

Spring is here, and it’s brought the sunshine! Here in Texas, many of us flock to the water to beat the heat and have some fun. Whether you’ve been a captain for years or are thinking about purchasing a new boat for the first time with a recreational loan from Education First FCU, we want to help you do boating better.

Some boat-owners like to joke that “boat” is an acronym for “bring on another thousand.” Boating can be an expensive hobby, but also a rewarding one. Let’s look at a few ways to save some money and keep your dream boat from becoming a financial nightmare.

1. Avoid Supplies Labeled ‘Marine’

Retailers know that people who own boats tend to have a little more disposable income and expect to spend a lot to maintain their watercraft. This leads them to inflate prices on boating rope or window cleaner. In many cases, conventional land craft products will do the same job just as well for potentially a fraction of the cost.

2. Make Boating Friends

If you’ve got friends who are heading to the same lake, see if you can make the trip together. You can take them around on your boat this time, then they can do the same for you. Not only will this let you both experience being captain and first mate, but you’ll also spend half as much on fuel – and get to have a blast while you do it.

3. Get Gas Beforehand

Speaking of fuel…think about the prices at the marina. It’s likely prices will climb higher and higher the closer you get to the lake, because marina operators know they have a captive audience. With a 15-gallon spare tank, you can make the trip to a land-locked gas station and save a few bucks on fuel (one of the biggest expenses of the weekend). However, if you do plan to get gas far from the water, pay attention to what you are buying. Many gasoline-powered engines (especially older models) were built for E10 gasoline or less. Many regular gas stations carry E15 or higher gasoline, which could damage your boat’s motor. Make sure you know what your boat needs and what is available to you.

4. Do Your Cooking on the Water

Deli sandwiches can get boring and bait shop hot dogs can be ridiculously expensive - not to mention unhealthy. Instead of those options, try to step up your cooking game on the boat. A single burner electric hot plate is all you need to make a stir fry, some tacos, burgers, and many other simple, tasty dishes. A little bit of planning can make a big difference in the quality and cost of your food. Bring wings and buffalo sauce, cook them up in the skillet, and have your favorite bar food right there on the water! For easier prep, consider chopping up all your ingredients beforehand and keep them in plastic, spill-proof containers in the cooler. Also, only do your cooking at anchor in calm waters.

5. Cut Down on the Alcohol

We’ll admit - beer and boating seem like such a natural fit. But the cost of all those cans can really add up. In the worse case scenario, you could end up with a serious criminal matter on your hands. Boating under the influence (BUI) enforcement is monitored closely on most lakes, especially those where boats and people coexist in the water. Security tends to be even tighter on holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, or Labor Day. Regardless of the date, getting a ticket could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars, or even your freedom!

Alcohol is also dehydrating. If you’re out in the sun, be sure to also drink plenty of water or a sports drink, and always designate at least one sober boat driver. Driving a boat under the influence is just as dangerous as driving a car under the influence and the risk simply isn’t worth it.

Stay safe, and have a great time on the water!