Boating in NY in 2020

Top 10 Safety Reminders, New Resources

By: Dave White & New York Sea Grant

In mid-April, with boating opportunities opening up with some restrictions related to marina operations, social distancing and sanitization, the Empire State Marine Trades Association, Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York, and New York Sea Grant are providing resources to encourage people to boat in a socially responsible way. Boaters should be watchful for additional restrictions or new closures and should follow CDC and New York State guidelines or restrictions for community safety. Call ahead to see if your local boating destination is open. Do not use closed or crowded areas. If you are not feeling well or show any sign of illness or symptoms, stay home. New York Sea Grant is reminding people of 10 tips to follow healthy, clean, safe and environmentally-friendly practices while socially distancing on boats at this time:

1. 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, angling or other equipment. 

2. 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. 

3. 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. 

4. Properly equip your vessel, be it a motorized boat, paddleboard, canoe, kayak. . . Check that all gear is working or up-to-date, e.g., lights, horn, fire extinguishers, flares, batteries, signal flags, first-aid kit, etc. 

5. Have and wear an approved life vest, preferably with a bright color that would be easily seen by emergency personnel. 

6. Check and assure weather and water conditions are safe before leaving, and check while on the water for any approaching weather system. Sites for information include https://www.weather.gov/marine/ and https://glbuoys.glos.us/

7. Have a properly-working means of communication, including a whistle, in case of emergency. 

8. Practice environmentally-responsible boating. Use a new bilge sock and fuel nozzle bib to prevent spills. 

9. Practice Clean, Drain, Dry before and after entering the water to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species. 

10. 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 Species Clearinghouse website at http://nyis.info.


Links to New York State and marine industry guidance for safety and using boat launches, fishing-by-boat access sites, and marinas include:
– Boating During COVID-19: https://www.discoverboating.com/resources/boating-during-coronavirus-covid-19 
– Empire State Marine Trades Association: https://www.theesmta.com/
– Boating Industries Association of Upstate New York:  http://www.cnybia.com/
– New York State DEC Boating and Paddling:  https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/349.html
– NYS Parks Marine Services Bureau:  https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/boating/
– New York Sea Grant: www.nyseagrant.org/marina.
 

Resources on DiscoverBoating.com offer the following points for attention:
– Limit the people aboard to only those in your immediate household; no guests
– No rafting up with other boats; no beaching your boat right next to someone else
– Maintain distance at docks, when fueling, and on the water
– Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after handling marina gates or fuel pump
– Go right from your house to the boat and back, no unnecessary contact
– Boat responsibly.