Warmer weather is just over the horizon and the area’s lakes and canals are opening back up for boating — with new rules about social-distancing and sanitizing, of course.
The Empire State Marine Trades Association, the Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York and the New York Sea Grant have put together a list of ten tips to encourage people to boat in a socially responsible way. They said boaters should be watchful for additional restrictions this year, along with potential closures.
The associations recommend that boaters call ahead to see if their boating destination is open and to not use closed or crowded areas.
Observe social distancing and disinfecting standards aboard your boat. Maintain social distancing from other boats and boaters in parking lots, at dock, fueling stations, and on the water. Do not share paddles or any hand-held safety, recreational or other equipment.
File a float plan so someone onshore knows when and where you are going and when you are expected back. Call ahead to be sure your boat launch or marina destination is open.
Know the rules of navigation. Brianna’s Law will require all motorboat operators to complete a boating safety course; new age requirements began January 1, 2020. Online classes are available.
Properly equip your vessel, be it a motorized boat, paddleboard, canoe, kayak. Check that all gear is working and up-to-date, including lights, horn, fire extinguishers, flares, batteries, signal flags and first-aid kits.
Have and wear an approved life vest, preferably with a bright color that would be easily seen by emergency personnel.
Check and assure weather and water conditions are safe before leaving, and check while on the water for any approaching weather system.
Have a properly-working means of communication, including a whistle, in case of emergency.
Practice environmentally-responsible boating. Use a new bilge sock and fuel nozzle bib to prevent spills.
Practice Clean, Drain, Dry before and after entering the water to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.
For Watercraft Inspection Program leaders, New York Sea Grant has enhanced access to new and standardized watercraft inspection program management tools on the redesigned New York State Invasive Clearinghouse website at www.nyis.info.
Further tips on boating during the coronavirus outbreak can be found at the website www.DiscoverBoating.com.