Welcome to the 2020 recreational boating season and the new normal of pandemic-related sailing.
As every human on the planet already knows, the best way to avoid COVID-19 is through physical/social distancing — staying at least six feet away from the person next to you.
Thankfully, boating is a safe, almost perfect, social distancing activity.
Right now, boaters are not the only people navigating the uncharted waters of living in a world with the novel coronavirus COVID-19. But the most important thing for everyone to do is follow the lead and guidance of federal and provincial public health officials.
And speaking of the Atlantic provinces, it is a positive sign that all four governments have recognized the importance of boating as a safe outdoor activity. The public health authorities for all four Atlantic provinces have already relaxed measures allowing recreational boaters to take to the water.
Boating safety should always be the most critical consideration whenever you push off the dock, but with all the recent issues regarding COVID-19, it has taken on an entirely new meaning.
Responsible boatowners all have a safety checklist they go over before heading out for the day. Now, thanks to COVID-19, they have more rules to keep top of mind.
For the immediate time period, you need to limit the people aboard to those family members you share your home with, no guests. You also should 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.
You also 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 normally might.
If we all take the necessary precautions and follow public health rules, with a little luck and common sense, we can still enjoy our time on the water.
As well, I know you are ‘sick’ of hearing this, but please continue to follow all recommended health practices, including hand washing, proper cough and sneeze etiquette, social distancing and staying home if you feel under the weather.
Everyone can still have an enjoyable boating season as well as adjust to the rules of what is now to be the new normal — both on and off the water.