As the lockdown begins to soften, we will slowly return to our daily routine, of course, with further measures of keeping the distance. We will have to change our habits for a while, but we shall never stop dreaming. Boating safety is always – always – a critical consideration whenever you push off the dock, but with all the recent issues regarding COVID-19, many people are wondering if boating is considered a safe social distancing practice. As boaters everywhere do their best to navigate these uncharted waters there is misleading information all around. The short answer is yes, but the long answer is a bit more involved. First and foremost, all the usual rules apply: You need to limit the people aboard to those family members you share your home with, period – no guests.
You also can’t 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.You have to 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.
Finally, 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. Every country 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 so beforehand try to contact the authorities for the most recent information.
The question that may weigh heavily on a lot of people’s minds is whether you will be able to get technical help if something goes wrong with your boat, since it’s another way your safety may be impacted out on the water. Due to the constantly changing nature of this emergency, we highly recommend double-checking on all of the services in the area you plan to go to, before taking out your boat.
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?
You should disinfect surfaces with 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 canvass and types of vinyl are particularly prone to damage or discoloration if disinfecting chemicals are left on their surfaces. So, after disinfecting be sure to give your boat a thorough wash-down. The most important thing overall is simply to maintain a clean boat.
We boaters love getting out on the water, and part of that love comes from bonding with family, and spending quality time with a loved one, or just enjoying the solitude.Thankfully, in areas where short-distance travel hasn’t been entirely eliminated, we can still do all of these things safely on our boats.
Despite the gradual opening up of marinas and harbours, boating life will still look very different for a while. To the best of our knowledge the current guidelines on what boat owners can and can’t do are as follows:
Owners of both private and commercial boats can make daily visits to their boats in marinas and elsewhere for leisure or maintenance purposes.
Non-essential travel by privately owned boats (powered and non-powered) is allowed, subject to the relevant navigation authority (some authorities may apply a time-lag to carry out essential safety inspections and maintenance).
You may partake in outdoor water-based activities as an individual, household group, or as a group of up to 6 people from two or more different households provided you can maintain socially distancing (honouring the two-metre rule).
If your boat is too small to make this practicable you may still go out with members of your own household but not with someone from outside your home.
On larger private boats, the guidelines still recommend that you avoid sharing a boat with a person from a different household. However, if you do, you should stay outside, at least two metres apart and with a maximum of 6 people.
Cleaning protocols should be put in place to limit coronavirus transmission on boats, particularly on touch points such as handrails.
Trips to most European countries on private leisure boats are also severely restricted, requiring special international travel certificates. Some popular short-haul cruising destinations such as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man also remain closed to visitors. France, Spain and Italy have started to ease restrictions on boating, although it’s not yet clear whether owners with boats based overseas will be able to travel to them or whether they will have to stay quarantined on arrival.
The rule changes have triggered a scramble to put social distancing and hygiene measures in place in marinas and harbours. Everything from pontoon access to washroom facilities had to be adapted to meet the new guidelines.The marine industry has also started to open up. Boat builders and dealers have resumed socially distanced boat viewings and sea-trials. Chandleries are working out how to keep customers safe in-store and some companies have extended warranties and servicing intervals.
Last but not least the organisers of the Cannes Yachting Festival have confirmed that the first big show of the autumn season will go ahead as planned, albeit with strict safety measures in place. The world stopped for a while; travel and movement were put aside.
Thanks to the appropriate response of the Croatian civilian headquarters and efforts to combat Coronavirus, we now have a very good epidemiological picture in Croatia. Slowly, the lockdown is getting loose, green markets are already open, public transportation, bars, restaurants, and shops are opening.
After the lockdown period, we will all need a RESET. The best way to reset is to get into the nature surrounding, on a sailing yacht, in a campsite or holiday home. This way, you can keep the distance, stay safe, and enjoy all the benefits from the natural environment. There are countless opportunities and activities to spend quality time in nature. Some of them are cycling, kayaking, hiking, diving, snorkeling, surfing. This time is ideal for learning new things, and at the same time, increase the body’s resistance by doing physical activities. The fact is that lockdown will have negative consequences for economies. However, it also has positive effects. Above all, on the cleanliness of the air, and the recovery of flora and fauna.
Get on board, relax in secluded bays on the islands, experience, and learn new activities. Enjoy life again!