Social distancing can be easy on the water – as long as boaters keep precautions in mind, and switch up some activities just a bit.
State officials announced last week that marinas will be able to operate this summer, though charters and boat rentals are prohibited. Even marinas must change how they operate for the season, including closing off some portions of facilities at state marinas, which have been limited to boat owners whose property is already on-site.
“Even where marina access is permitted in New Jersey’s state parks, all facilities (including restrooms) remain closed and social distancing practices are being enforced by State Park Police and Conservation Police Officers,” said state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna.
But what about the average boater? The state has not issued any bans on vessels anchoring at gathering spots such as F-Cove or Tices Shoal, but the State Police Marine Services Bureau did publish guidelines governing how boaters must conduct themselves on the water. The guidelines largely resemble those that Florida adopted in a formal executive order last month – and have been working in most locations, including popular sand bars.
The regulations include:
- Maintain a safe social distance at the dock, on boat ramps, and fuel docks. Avoid any unnecessary contact with others.
- Don’t raft up to other boaters. Keep 50 feet from people while underway, anchoring or mooring.
- After touching a marina gate, boat lines, or fuel pump in a common area, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer to disinfect.
- Pack food, water and other things you may need as restaurants and marina stores may not be open.
- Don’t go boating if someone in your household is sick.
- Go right from your house to the boat and back.
The state also has said boaters should try to only get underway with members of their own household.