For many of us, summer is the best time of year because it means fun times on the water with family and friends. This summer can be just as enjoyable, even during COVID-19, if everyone takes a few simple safety measures. As communities gradually begin re-opening and boaters take to the water, the Marine Retailers Association of America (MRAA) encourages marinas to educate their members and others about the importance of responsible boating and social distancing.
At the Safe Boating Campaign, we’re proud of the leadership of our partners like MRAA to keep boating safety at the forefront. By following some simple guidelines, everyone can enjoy a healthy day outdoors on their boat and quality time with their family.
Here are some general safety and social distancing tips, that marinas can share with their members, to encourage responsible boating this summer:
- Pack the essentials and more to stay safe. In addition to sunscreen, it’s important to pack sanitizer, disinfecting wipes and disposable gloves. Use gloves when handling shared lines, dock cards and fuel pumps. Pack all of your food and drinks, as chances are your favorite places to stop will be closed.
- Get your boat ready to launch away from others. Have only your crew handle the lines when backing down the ramp to launch. Normal boat ramp etiquette is a perfect method for keeping your distance from other boaters. While your crew boards the boat, the vehicle driver should park the rig and directly board the boat and clear the ramp.
- Don’t gather at the marina. The marina has always been a social magnet, but for the short-term, it should only serve as your gateway to the water. Take a direct route to your boat. Avoid entering the ship store, boat shop or marina office unless you’ve made a prior one-on-one appointment, or in case of emergency.
- Limit your slip space only to your crew. Avoid the common courtesy of helping others with their lines or accepting help unless there is an immediate need to avoid injury or damage. Wash your hands or use sanitizer after handling someone else’s boat or line.
- Launch your boat quickly. Before requesting your boat to be launched, make sure you and your crew are completely ready to move away from the dock as soon as your boat is put into the water. Stay away from others waiting for their boats to launch. Consider launching on a schedule to avoid multiple crews waiting near one another to launch.
- Relax on the water. Don’t raft up or beach your boat with other boats. Even if you know the others on a boat, rafting can create an unsafe environment, and in some states, this activity had led to officials closing access to waters. Find a secluded spot away from others to relax. You can cruise, sail, fish, ski, jump wakes, or raft with the kids until it is time to relax!
- Return to the dock and head home. Follow the same guidelines as launching your boat. This is not the time for fish stories back on the dock. Square away your boat and keep moving home.
Keep in mind these guidelines are for informational purposes only. It is important to check with local authorities on rules and regulations in your specific community. And, remember, enjoy your summer and have fun!