Coast boat sales are sinking fast - - The News for South Mississippi

Coast boat sales are sinking fast


By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - During a normally busy time of the year, the oil spill has changed everything at Roughwater Marine in Gautier, according to owner Ben Spafford.  

"Since the oil spill, there's been no boat sales," Spafford said.  "We had a slow year last year, and half the year before was pretty slow. This year, it's just shut off." 

The only saving grace at Roughwater Marine is the sale of supplies and safety gear for the many vessels of opportunity that are helping clean up and contain the spill.  But still, new boats sit silently on the trailers, with no hope of being launched anytime soon. 

In Ocean Springs, Jerry Adkerson manages Ocean Marine.  It's the same story there: Boats sit and the showroom is eerily quiet.  The fear of fishermen is the major reason. No fishing, no sales, Adkerson said.  

"The Mississippi Gulf Coast is primarily a fishing boat community, and always has been," Adkerson said. "There are pleasure boaters, obviously, but it's more fishing than anything else and that has a bigger effect on it."  

With boat sales almost disappearing because of the oil spill in the Gulf, a ritual that took place for Spafford on a daily, sometimes more than daily basis has stopped altogether.  

"Usually, we have a sales meeting at least once a day, usually several times a day, about the different prospects that we have spoken with. And I'd have to get my prospect book to tell you the last date that I actually talked to someone who was interested in buying a boat." 

And until the spill is cleaned up and life on the coast gets back to normal, boat dealers see nothing but rough seas ahead.

Both dealers said if the oil spill is capped successfully, and the flow of oil is halted, there's a chance that potential buyers might come back to the showroom later this summer. 

They also stress that most Mississippi waters are still open for fishing.

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