At the Discovery Bay Yacht Club, Commodore Joanne Jett said that while the high price of gas has affected some of the club's scheduled cruises, she admits that she really hasn't seen any real decrease in the amount of boaters out on the water.
"I think people are still on the Delta enjoying the water," she said.
Dan Belarde, sales manager at Oakley Sport and Garden, says that while sales are definitely down this year, it's not because of the price of gas. Belarde is convinced it's just an overall lull in the economy; something he believes will soon turn around.
'Yeah, sales are down this summer,' said Belarde, "but I don't think it's because of gas prices. Really you're only talking about another 60 to 70 cents per gallon compared to last year, which comes out to another 20 bucks or so per weekend. It's not that big a difference."
And if it is, says Big Break Marina Owner Dave Biron, then boaters are sailing down the wrong slough.
"The price of gas is not an issue," said Biron. "If you're going to let another $100 bucks or so kill you, then you're in the wrong game. The weather is number one, and now that it's nice out boaters are coming out of the woodwork."
Recreational boater Robert Fowler and his family look forward to their weekends on the water despite the drive over Vasco Road from the Tri-Valley. Expensive as it is, Fowler says the enjoyment his family gets from cruising and skiing on the Delta is worth the extra cash.
"Sure, it's more expensive this year, and we do think twice before we pack up and come out," said Fowler. "But it's a nice family thing for us, and the girls can bring their friends and really enjoy a day on water. Is it worth the dollars? Yeah, for sure."
Of the state's nearly one million sailors, Contra Costa County boasts nearly 40,000 registered boaters, and here among the Delta's thousand miles of inland waterways the potential for accidents is high. But according to Sgt. Will Duke of the Marine Patrol, a division of the Office of the Sheriff, boating-related accidents are down this year; something he says is good news indeed.
"Traffic is a little bit lighter this year," said Duke, "and a lot of people are convinced it's the gas prices ... I'm not sure. But the good news is that we're seeing a lot more sober boaters and I think that is because we have really adopted a zero-tolerance attitude. No one gets a break, and I think it is paying off in safety."
But for Chris Lauritzen of Lauritzen Yacht Harbor in Oakley, things aren't paying off for him this summer. Forced to accommodate for the increase in gas prices and what he says is a decrease in boaters, Lauritzen is losing customers. Considering that the cost of maintaining an average 25-foot boat can run close to $6,000 a year when you factor in storage, insurance, a yearly haul out, and of course gas, it 's not surprising that small business owners like Lauritzen are feeling the pinch.
"If other marina owners are telling you they're busy this season, they're lying," said Lauritzen, who has nearly 40 years invested in the business. "We've had to raise our rates this year to accommodate things, and I'm talking $4 a boat, and still we have had people leave. I'm not running away from the business, but it's discouraging for sure."
Still, regardless of the cost, the allure of the Delta and its gleaming waterways is an attraction East County residents and their counterparts over the hill find hard to resist. Where else, as the Discovery Bay saying goes, can you "live where you play?"
"Exactly," said Fowler. "Every day is just another day in Paradise."
Karen Rarey contributed to this story.