2008-03-11

Windsurfing and the Price of Gas

Of course you all know how gas prices are rising higher then ever here in the US, and this Spring/Summer will likely be over $4.00/gallon. Fuel costs to travel to the OBX will be close to the cost of lodging, especially when driving down a large van or SUV pulling a trailer full of windsurfing gear. Even living here on the OBX, the price of gas is now impacting my decision to drive south for a session on the southern beaches. Gone are the days of simply driving south to see if it "will happen." Luckily we have live data sources such as IWindsurf to report real-time wind/weather along the OBX, and wireless phones to report conditions at particular spots. In the old days, we used to look at the sky, judge the wind where we were at, and "guess" if it would be better somewhere else. The old adage, "Never leave wind to find wind..." often rang true back then. Now with the cost of "road sailing" being what it is, what's at stake is more then simply missing the wind. I am glad I now live here and only have to drive 80 miles round trip to hit a south-side session as compared to when I lived in the metro Washington DC area. Back then, I drove down here nearly every weekend...with today's gas prices, that would be really tough.

I look forward to the day when "real" fuel efficient (aka 80 to 100+ mpg) vehicles hit the market. Right now, we are not there, but interestingly the technology is. Perhaps soon, the auto industry will "catch up...," or is that wishful thinking?! Though on the flip side, higher gas prices may awake our responsible-side and instill thought and consideration into something we have taken for granted in the past. Perhaps rising gas prices is something to be welcomed rather than scorned!

22 Comments:

At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank god for George Bush! If it wasn't for his policies we'd be looking at $6.00/gal last year. The way I see it, I refinanced my house at a ridicuously low interest rate for 15 years instead of 30, about 5% lower than my Clinton-era interest rate, so with my $300/month savings I can afford an increase in gas prices. Let's wait until November 5, by then we'll have a better idea on where the countries heading. Until then I'm just thankful I don't drive a gas guzzler, I'm very happy with my 26mpg for those long trips to Hatteras. If they close the beaches down there I might just decide to spend more time up here.

 
At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Frank Peebles said...

The 80 to 100 miles to the gallon is a dream. Physics says that is not possible at the current weight of the cars without windsurfing equipment. Safety regulations make for heavy cars and that is what sells. The size of people also effect what they buy. Have you seen a lot of skinny people lately? When i go to the beach know I take a paddle and plan to stay the day. It is like my religon I pray for wind.
later
frank

 
At 7:49 AM, Blogger Bill said...

I don't know Frank... the sound barrier was a "dream" at one time too... My 2002 diesel Jetta gets near 50 mph hwy, so it is halfway there. Granted it is not a SUV pulling a trailer full of gear, but I wonder if current SUV design adopted composite framing/engine and interior components to reduce weight, and utilized highly efficient diesel engine tech, or perhaps a hybrid solution; standard 80 to 100 mpg would not be a "dream." Cost may be the next issue raised, however this is also a misnomer since retooled production lines could produce the vehicles, and material costs given tech advancements would be driven down similar to other things. Think flat panel plasma or LCD TVs. At one time they cost nearly $30,000 for a 50 inch; now you can get one for under $2000! My point being that public demand drives everything and if we "want" real fuel efficiency, auto manufacturers will comply. Its simple reactionary supply/demand competition. Note, the word "reactionary" is key.

 
At 8:01 AM, Blogger Bill said...

You have a point though Frank with "people size" being the "X" factor. Sure if you have 1500+ lbs of people packed into a fuel efficient SUV; mileage will definitely be affected. What is the average American weight these days?

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Bill, Your TDI Jetta is banned from sale in California, Washington and Oregon because it doesn't meet their clean air requirements. So what is better, less pollution from gasoline engnines or less comsumption from diesel engines. You live on Hatteras so I'm sure you see the yearly visits of Canadians, with four people arriving in a Golf or Civic or mini Toyota pulling an aluminum trailer loaded with windsurfing gear. These people north of the border have grasped the concept that a small utility trailer used on an as needed basis is better than driving around in an SUV with unused space 90% of the time. It's going to be a long time before Americans change their ways. Just go hang out in the Avon Food Lion for a day. Its easy to pick out the foreigners, just watch the check out line, as the fat people line up you can be sure that the're the Americans, skinny guy at the counter, well that's either Bill, Andy, Caleb or someone from another country. Arizona Lou has a solution. His bumper sticker says, Increase your gas mileage by 20%, just drive like me. Head down the highway at 55 mph with 35 psi in your skinny tires and synthetic oil in the engine and you'll get 30% better mileage than at 75 mph with your Jiffy Lube oil change and an un maintained vehicle. I miss the days of $1.50/ gal gas, and yet I'm old enough to remember $ 0.63/ gal gas when I was in high school. We got to be careful of knee jerk solutions to a percieved problem. Make ethanol from corn and food prices rise. Maybe take the area of the sound behind jockeys ridge and fill it with wind turbines, then you can slalom around the poles. Of course the enviro's will be pissed at all the decapitated Egrets and cranes. One of the biggest cuprits to the lose of the American dream is the advent of the computer. We're filling our landfills with toxic materials from obsolete electronic components, losing menial labor jobs a tasks are streamlined by software programs and filing systems. Closing down Mom and Pop stores to internet sales and big box stores. Maybe we should get rid of all the programmers and go back to the 70's life was a lot simpler back them. Wasn't your stock windsurfer with 6.0 pinhead sail as much fun as your MauiSails and Quatro boards are today?

 
At 10:01 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Great wrap up Charles!

All true, especially the Avon Food Lion reference. The Canadians with the civic loaded with gear pulling a tiny trailer is right on!

I definitely am not a fan of the big SUV; and most who drive them would probably have a heart attack and drown if caught in the soup from the previous video at Coquina. Unfortunately, those vehicles are "in" and Americans continue to buy them. Perhaps as Frank said it is a "dream" but not from lack of being able to make them more efficient; but rather there is no need from the manufacturers' perspective. Americans will still drive them even if it costs $100+ to fill the tank for a few round trips to work and the grocery store.

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger Charles said...

Americans have cars they can't afford to put gas in, parked in the driveways of McMansions they can't afford the mortgage on, with the skill level for jobs that are being shipped overseas. So where do we fit in? Maybe you and I are the un-American ones? It's some crazy times we live in. At least we part of a dying sport that Americans no longer have time for. That just means more waves for you and me. Right On!!

 
At 9:08 PM, Anonymous jonny cat said...

the last time i was in europe (last month) gas was about 1.6 euros/litre...that's well over $7/gallon, accounting for the currency and volume conversions. i say let the gas prices rise, and we'll get smart. btw diesel technology is so advanced that the euro versions of many engines are now just about as clean burning as our regular gas motors. the vw polo tdi gets 70 m.p.g. too bad our govt. won't approve it's import.

 
At 9:39 PM, Anonymous Frank said...

Man you guys are going off! Money is the limiting factor in every endeavor.The government paid the bill on breaking the sound barrier. Free enterprise is anything but free. Progress is made in the name of profit. My number one rule is follow the money! Rule number two is never forget rule number one.I have been a mechanic for 40 years and most improvements in autos are creature comforts. Charles is right we are the few not the many. I have a 22 year old Honda and always hated buying gas. To show my age I can remember 19.9 a gallon at JC Penny auto center.

 
At 9:12 AM, Anonymous ted said...

Kiting + civic = 35-40mpg, non hybrid. No need for a trailer when all my gear fits in the trunk, including my board! Only downside is that I cant park at any turnouts and I can barely put 1 tire on the side of the road without fear of getting stuck :)

 
At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Ted said...

...forgot to mention...LOVE the blog! Keep up the good work.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Bill said...

That is a definite benefit of kiteboarding. Space required to carry the gear so so minimal! You even have plenty of room to bring your girlfriend along in a small civic!

 
At 10:35 AM, Blogger Andy said...

...so she can pick you up when you mistakenly end up 5 miles from where you started.... Do you factor in downwinding round trips for drop off/pick up when calculating gas use per session?

 
At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Ted said...

..how about wife +2 kids :) As for the downwinders....they are only unintentional as far as she knows "Sorry honey, don't know what happened" :)

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Fish said...

Hey! As a Canadian, I love the comment about clued-in Canucks. While I'd love to sit here and agree and say Canadians are more tuned into the environmental crisis, I would have to say we are not necessarily all that enlightened on this side of the border either. There are lots of unnecessary SUV's and trucks here too!

Saying that, the spring pilgrimage to Hatteras is definitely a long drive and fuel costs do add up, so it makes sense and I think many people realize that and pick their transportation accordingly. We all know that overloading a Civic or Golf with 5 boards+ is not a gesture in convenience.

Great Blog Bill... we'll see you all soon in Hatteras in late April/May! and stoked!

 
At 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember Brett's little 3 cylinder 4 wheel drive Justy. He could fit his 85 liter board and gear inside.

 
At 8:51 AM, Blogger Andy said...

The "Trusty Justy" even used to make it out to the beach on occasion!

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger Catapulting Aaron said...

Bill,

great blog, and yup, it's on all of our minds...

I drive a toyota matrix which can fit a decent amount of gear inside and get 30+ mpg. I sometimes get strange looks when it's fully loaded, but I suspect cars loaded to the brim and stacked up will become the norm eventually.

If you really want some eye-opening go check out "Who killed the electric car" on video. It's an excellent documentary about the electric car GM leased in the 90s. When the leases were over, they didn't allow their drivers to buy them... apparently destroying them was the better business strategy. It's really eye-opening and really sad at the same time.

Obviously long trips like DC->OBX wouldn't work with an electric car with our current infrastructure, but it's not outside the realm of possibility.

Oh yeah, one more thing... the dirtiest coal plant producing electricity for electric motors is much less bad for the environment than everyone using combustion engines...

 
At 9:02 PM, Blogger BOBXNC said...

The community you have fostered is both insightful and inspiring. As noted here

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger PeconicPuffin said...

Most windsurfers around the world pay much more for fuel. Go down to Bonaire, where I was paying $9/gallon . Of course the vehicles there are all light and relatively smaller, and get much better mpg. No fat people there, either.

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

12kite.com
wind is good!?!?

 
At 1:52 AM, Anonymous Oceanpages said...

To find some more Gas Conversions here.

 

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