Re-shared from DiscoverBoating.com
Whether this is your first or fifth year of boating, we all have one thing in common: a love for the water. This summer so far has seen a veritable boom of activity from local lakes to bays and the ocean. That’s why it’s all the more important that we recreate responsibly—because fun boating and safe boating to hand-in-hand.
Between wanting to enjoy the warm weather and needing a remedy to being cooped up, it’s all too easy to get careless. Keep these strategies in mind to keep the water open and safe not just now, but for your kids and grandkids for future years to come.
1. Know Before You Go
With local and state COVID-19 guidance continuing to change, some places on your must-visit list could suddenly close down. Check the status before you leave.
Similarly, if an anchorage or destination is crowded when you arrive, have a Plan B. Regardless, pack essentials like hand sanitizers and face coverings.
Basic Boating Etiquette During COVID-19
2. Keep Your Distance
Social distancing on the water means boating solely with household members, and staying six feet apart at the fuel dock or launch ramp. Additionally, some marina offices or shops may limit the number of people allowed inside at one time, so read postings before opening the door.
For more information, read our complete safety guide on Boating During COVID-19: Tips for Safe Social Distancing.
3. No Rafting Up
Speaking of keeping your distance, tying boats together during the pandemic is just too risky. As an alternative to rafting up or beaching up together, consider cruising with one or two other boats, with everyone staying on their own craft. It’s the waterborne version of setting up lawn chairs six feet apart.
4. Be Considerate to Others—Cover Up
Since marinas, restaurants, and shops may request or require face coverings, keep some handy onboard. Even bandanas will work in a pinch.
5. Don’t Forget Your Life Jacket
Several states require children to wear them at all times. Be a good role model and wear one, too. Think of it as an insurance policy: You hope never to need it, but it’s a difference maker if trouble arises.
Life Jackets, Vests & PFDs: How to Find the Right Fit
6. Ride Dry, Drive Dry—Boat Sober
Getting behind the wheel of your car after a few drinks is bad (and illegal), but consequences can be worse with a boat. Boats don’t have brakes—plus can encounter hidden obstacles. The Coast Guard and other search-and-rescue responders don’t need the added stress, either. Be smart, and always assign a Sober Skipper.
7. Help with a Hook or Line
If you’re helping someone dock or depart, or if you need this assistance yourself, toss the lines or use a boat hook. Do this instead of leaning in or over, since you can inadvertently get too close.
8. Practice Clean Boating—Leave No Trace
Respect the water, and take your garbage back to the marina or your home, disposing of it properly. Also make sure face coverings don’t fly overboard and into the water.
Clean and Green, Eco-Friendly Boating Tips
9. Swim Only in Designated Areas
Areas are marked accordingly for a host of reasons, including sanitation and water quality, rip currents, dangerous surf, and submerged objects.
10. Keep an Eye on the Weather
Monitor marine weather channels, since thunderstorms or strong winds can materialize suddenly. Head to the nearest safe shore if you see bad weather approaching.