Tips for Navigating Social Distancing + Boating

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COVID-19 is forcing everyone to navigate uncharted waters, including boaters. Many people are wondering if they can go boating, who they can boat with, and where they can go once they leave the dock. In many areas, the water is open, however, it’s more important than ever that boaters are responsible to limit unnecessary risk not only to themselves, but to other boaters, law enforcement, and first responders

The Safe Boating Campaign, led by the National Safe Boating Council, offers these tips for practicing social distancing and safety while boating:

  1. Follow state and local guidance from public health officials, marine law enforcement agencies, department of natural resources, park services and others. For example, some areas prohibit powerboating while allowing paddling (e.g. kayak, SUP, canoe) as exercise. Read this helpful state guide, and check with your state and local community for the latest advisory as information changes daily.
  2. Stay in your local community.
  3. Limit the people aboard your boat to people in your immediate household. No guests, no friends, no grandparents that don’t live in your house.
  4. File a float plan. Make sure a loved one or friend knows the details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
  5. Everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when you’re on the water. You never know when an accident may happen, and a life jacket can help save you until search and rescue assets can arrive.
  6. Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your house.
  7. Maintain safe distance at the fuel dock or loading up at the marina.
  8. Wash hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer, such as after touching a marina gate or fuel pump.
  9. Don’t raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others.
  10. Go right from your house to the boat and back so that you don’t have unnecessary contact with anyone.
  11. Carry all required boating safety equipment such as flares, navigation light, a horn or whistle, a first aid kit.
  12. Pack food, water and other things you may need as restaurants and marina stores may not be open.
  13. Be sure to have at least two communication devices that work when wet, such as satellite phones, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), VHF radios and personal locator beacons (PLB). Cell phones are not reliable in an emergency situation.
  14. Don’t go boating if someone in your household is sick.
  15. Don’t drink and boat.

By following these tips, you can enjoy your boat, the water, sunshine and fresh air responsibly. For additional boating resources and tips, please visit