COVID-19 is forcing everyone to navigate unfamiliar territory. Many boaters are uncertain if it’s safe to go boating, who they can go boating with, and where they can go once they leave the marina. It might seem perfectly fine to venture into open waters, but it’s more important than ever to limit unnecessary risk to other boaters, first responders, and law enforcement.

Here are some helpful tips for social distancing safely on the water.

  1. Make sure you’re knowledgeable about state and local guidelines. Information changes rapidly in the midst of COVID-19, so it’s important to be aware and alert.
  2. Stay in your local area. Traveling is not advised or even permitted in most states.
  3. The only people on your boat should be members of your immediate household. This means no friends, colleagues, or adult children that live on their own. If they don’t live in your household and they aren’t quarantining with you, you need to stay six feet away from them.
  4. If you encounter other boaters, stay at least six feet away from them. This applies to everyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household. It might be difficult to avoid others while you’re fueling up at the dock or loading up at the marina, but as long as you follow the six feet rule, you should be fine. As for rafting up to other boaters or pulling up on the beach next to someone, don’t. Getting out of the house and going for a refreshing boat ride with members of your immediate household is one thing, but now is not the time for social outings on the water.
  5. Bring hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, and lysol wipes on the boat. Wash your hands frequently, such as after touching a fuel pump or a marina gate. Use lysol wipes to clean the steering wheel, wipe down seat cushions, and sanitize anything else that’s touched frequently. 
  6. Pack plenty of food, water, drinks, and snacks, since restaurants and marina stores might not be open. Even if they are, you want to mitigate your risk of catching the virus by limiting your exposure in stores and restaurants. It’s not worth it to venture into a store or restaurant when it’s not absolutely necessary. 
  7. This goes without saying, but if anyone in your household isn’t feeling well or is exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19, stay home. The symptomatic family member should quarantine themselves for two full weeks to avoid spreading the virus to others.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy your boat, the warm sunshine, and fresh air without endangering yourself or others.