Boating safety is always a priority whenever you pull away from the dock, but with all the recent issues regarding COVID-19, many people are wondering how to social distance on the water.
Follow these best practices to stay safe on the water:
Is Boating a Safe Social Distancing Activity?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a bit more involved.
- Limit the people aboard to those family members you share your home with, period—no guests.
- Do not raft up with other boats or pull up onto a beach close to another boat, as that could put you in close proximity with the occupants.
- Be careful to maintain a safe distance from others when doing things like loading up at the marina or fueling the boat.
- After doing anything that requires touching an item someone else may have touched, like a marina gate lock or a fuel pump, disinfect by washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer as soon as possible.
- To maintain the highest level of safety pack your gear and supplies ahead of time and don’t plan to stop at a store on the way to the marina or launch ramp, as you usually might.
Where Can I Go Boating, and What Boat Ramps are Open in My Area?
Every state and in many cases different municipalities or counties have different regulations in place as to where you can launch a boat during this time of crisis. And these rules are changing by the day. Be sure to check your local regulations before heading to the boat ramp.
Another handy resource can be found at the US Fish & Wildlife Service: State By State Closures, which lists the US Fish & Wildlife locations including many with access points, and their current status is updated daily.
Will I Receive Assistance If I have Mechanical Issues While Boating During the COVID-19 Crisis?
This is a question that may weigh heavily on a lot of people’s minds, since it’s another way your safety may be impacted out on the water. On-the-water towing assistance from major fleets like TowBoatUS and Sea Tow remain active and able to respond. In addition, search and rescue (SAR) and emergency personal from the US Coast Guard and most state agencies also remain active. However, we highly recommend double-checking on all of the above before taking out your boat.
How Do I Disinfect My Boat During the COVID-19 Crisis?
Like many solid surfaces, the parts of your boat could temporarily house the COVID-19 virus. As long as you keep boating between you and your family, your boat in and of itself shouldn’t be any problem. But what if you want to be extra cautious and disinfect your boat?
In that case, go by the CDC recommendations. That means disinfecting surfaces with EPA-approved disinfectants, however, you should remember that some of the approved disinfectants (like bleach or acids) can harm some of the surfaces of a boat. The canvas and vinyls are particularly subject to damage or discoloration, if disinfecting chemicals are left on their surfaces. After disinfecting, be sure to give your boat a thorough wash-down.
Source: Discover Boating