Due to the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic the past few months, a growing sense of uncertainty has been created about what life may look like and how to adapt to 'the new normal'. Amid ever-changing state orders, social-distancing guidelines, it is clear that there will be lasting impacts to the way we previously carried out our daily lives.
This new reality also applies to how we vacation, relax and blow off steam as summer enters full swing. Thankfully, our natural resources are wide open for the recreational activities that have long been a hallmark of the season, and this year, a growing number of people are turning to a longstanding American pastime — recreational boating.
As first-time boat buyers are on the rise, as Americans are recognizing that boating is one of the safest and most accessible atmospheres to enjoy quality time with their loved ones and improve their mental health outlook during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Owning a boat gives people a unique way to get away from it all. That comes in handy now as we’re all trying to maintain social distancing because of COVID-19. Politicians from every state in the United States have acknowledged that boating is a safe social distancing activity, but there are still some precautions to keep in mind. All of the usual guidelines are still relevant on the water, so here are a few things to consider before you plan your next outing and the boating industry’s way forward.
In May, the recreational boating industry saw an unprecedented increase in PWC sales, which were up 75 percent compared to May 2019.
Shipments of PWCs, outboard engines, wake sport boats, and jet boats increased by a range of 19 to 160 percent compared to April.
As the boating and water sports industry continues to grow on high-demand, manufacturing activity is slowly starting to pick back up and saw impressive gains in May following two months of shutdowns.
Therefore, if you are planning to go out on the water, one of the most important things to consider is how you’re going to limit exposure to other people around. Inviting a lot of guests onto your boat will put you near others and potentially spread disease, so limit your group to people who already live with you. If you live alone or still want to see others, here’s a more visual depiction on how to practice social distancing while boating.
Thankfully, in areas where short-distance travel hasn’t been entirely eliminated we can still do all aquatic activities from the safely on our boats. With that being said, we don’t recommend rafting with other boats or going to a beach where you’ll be close to many people. Your boat is one of the best places to get away from it all, and now is the perfect time to take advantage of that. When you limit your stops and other interactions, you’re doing your part to keep everyone safe.
For example, you may want to pack plenty of gear and supplies at home, so you don’t have to stop on the way to your boat. Sometimes, some degree of contact may be unavoidable.
However in instances such as when you’re fueling the boat or loading it at the marina, you can still do your best to maintain a safe distance and follow other guidelines. You may want to bring some hand sanitizer so you can disinfect yourself after stopping at the marina, fuel station, or loading ramp.
It is a good idea to take extra precautions when cleaning your boat, especially if you ever share it with others. Disinfect the boat with disinfectants that have been approved by the CDC recommendations. That means disinfecting surfaces with EPA-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 vinyls are particularly subject to damage or discoloration, if disinfecting chemicals are left on their surfaces.
With that in mind, it’s a good idea to wash the boat down after disinfecting. 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, to keep things ship-shape.
A boater who knows the rules of the water is more confident and ultimately creates a safer, more enjoyable boating experience for everyone. So check on the regulations affecting your locality. Be careful to maintain social distancing practices. And then cast off those lines and feel the wind in your hair—because boating is still the hands-down best way to enjoy living on planet Earth.
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