With me, the nature of my business (construction) makes me very leary of taking on a big long term debt. For instance, this year was dead until a month ago due to the 9/11 circumstances and the stock market, and 95% of my work is commercial.
I was going to go ahead and dive in anyway, hell the worst they could do is come and get the boat. Instead, we found a boat I could pay cash for. My live in girlfreind was all for me buying a new boat, she has as much or more passion for perfomance boating as I do. We live in a small house with a small mortgage, no kids, and probably could foot a fairly large boat payment, but I hate to worry about it. I try to keep enough cash in the bank that I could make it 6 months without a single job if I had to.
As far as the gas bill, like I always say, " Gas is the cheapest thing I ever have to buy for the boat". In reality, a whole weekends worth of fuel doesn't cost me as much as one good night out at the bar, and since I always want to go boating on the weekends, it keeps me out of the bars: a win-win situation.
I like the quote someone made on the board months ago. When he told them the price of his boat the other guy said "That's more than a house cost", he replied "Not in my neighborhood".