Area residents ride the waves of rising gasoline prices

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:51

    SUSSEX COUNTY-The high price of gasoline is having an impact on everyone's pocket. According to some estimates, every time that the price of gas goes up at the fuel pump by 10 percent, the cost of the average drivers gas consumption rises by about $75 a year. However, high gas prices seem to have done little sink one of the area's favorite summer pastimes: boating. Although some local marina officials said fewer boats appear to be leaving the docks on a regular basis, most people interviewed for this story said the high price of gas has only forced them to change suppliers but not their boating habits. Greg Lentine and his family own a second home on Lake Hopatcong. They travel from the Princeton area each weekend and vacations to entertain, relax and enjoy their boat and jet ski. In a recent interview at his lake home, Lentine said gas prices are not affecting his use of water crafts this summer. But acknowledged that he looks for ways to reduce the impact high gas prices have on his hobby. "Recently we had family visiting, and rather than fill up at the marinas I filled my own gas cans and saved over $50," he said. According to Lentine there is a benefit derived from the high price of gas. "I have to admit that it's nice not having the lake so busy on the weekends. High gas prices keep lake traffic low. It's an obvious difference just from last year to this year," he said. Although some residents report a change in lake traffic, state troopers on Lake Hopatcong say they have not detected a decrease in boaters, at least not on the weekends anyway. "I haven't noticed a big change in activity on the lake. In fact the people I've spoken to said they are still using their boats as usual, regardless of gas prices," said Trooper Mark Yarussi. For people such as Sparta resident Lori Bertoline, for whom boating is more than just a hobby, the increase in the price is a more serious issue. But not one that will stop her family from taking to the water. Bertoline is a trustee for the Lake Mohawk Ski Hawks, a team of synchronized water skiers. Her own children are members of the ski team and summers revolve around water skiing shows and practices. The team as well as Bertoline's own family has felt the crashing waves of gas prices. "I'm much more conscience of my boat use as a result of gas prices. We've cut back on tubing around the lake. My kids know that if we go out on the boat we'll be skiing, not tubing," said Bertoline. Because of the high gas prices, gas dues were raised an additional $15 this season for each member of the Ski Hawks. Some boaters are taking the whole thing in stride. For them, the additional cost is just part of the many other expenses of owning a boat such as winterizing, storage, docking and maintaining. "If you pay all this money to take care of your boat you want to use it," said Sparta resident Andrew Lowery. With the short season here in New Jersey, Lowery expects to take advantage of nice weather regardless of gas prices. Lowery and his family boat on the local lakes as well as down the shore where his family owns a vacation home. "The gas on the lake is higher than on land, because the lake has a captive audience, so to say. And down the shore gas is $2.58 at the marinas and $2.26 on land. So, when we can we carry a gas can to cut down on gas prices. But cut back, no, we enjoy it too much."