Private boat charters are one of the best ways to get your household outside safely during the pandemic. Boating gives you wide-open spaces on the water, sunshine, the privacy of your self-contained vessel, separation from the general public, and easily cleanable surfaces. Boat rentals have jumped to the top of the weekend to-do list!

With many waterways and marinas now open or opening, some virus safety precautions are necessary to make navigating your time on the water easy and stress-free. We've pulled together this list of general best-practice tips from various authorities and sources around the world to give you some ideas for how to boat safely and eliminate the most common risks of virus transmission.

Of course, you should always check with your local health authority for the specific guidelines and most recent advice in your area before you head out.

Guidelines for COVID-19 Boating Safety

  1. Sanitize the Boat. Between each use, wipe, clean, and sanitize all interior and exterior surfaces and objects that may come into contact. Disinfect the washroom frequently.
  2. Reduce passenger capacity. Limit the number of people on board to allow increased personal space and freedom of movement while distanced.
  3. Limit shared equipment. Limit the number of items that must be used by more than one individual. Refrain from passing items between parties.
  4. Before and after boarding. Use personal protective equipment (masks/face coverings and gloves), and observe physical distances when at marinas, boat docks, ramps, and other marine venues and facilities.
  5. Keep your distance onboard. Observe physical distance requirements where possible while onboard.
  6. Provide markings. Use floor markings or tape on seats, docks, railings and the deck to help passengers follow social distancing. Consider installing a plexiglass barrier between crew and customers.
  7. Operate Safely. Take extra caution when boating, especially with sporting activities like wakeboarding. Don't turn a great day into a bad one with a visit to the hospital.
  8. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Do so immediately after contact with any potentially unsanitized surface. Refrain from touching your face.

COVID-19 Safety Suggestions for Captains and Charter Operators

For boat charter and tour operators, adopting professional standards for transport industry personnel is recommended. Here are a few additional things to consider.

  1. Eliminate the handling of cash. Always take the full amount of payment for your booking online through GetMyBoat.
  2. Increase time between bookings. Allow adequate time between customer bookings for thorough cleaning and sanitization.
  3. Touchless pickup. Allow customers to take possession of equipment without direct personal handover.
  4. Post signage. Communicate your virus safety operation policies visually and directly. Establish clear visual signage to indicate embarking/disembarking procedures and waiting areas.
  5. Provide personal protection and sanitization. Supply sanitizing surface wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, masks, and handwashing facilities. Provide hand sanitizer to use upon boarding.
  6. Restrict equipment handling. Prevent customers from handling operating equipment. All equipment should be wiped down after each use.
  7. Identify transmission points and transactions. Develop a list of the highest risk activities and surfaces. Minimize exposure to these and sanitize hands after each interaction.
  8. Educate staff. Communicate protective policies and practices.
  9. Restrict access. Discourage or prevent individuals from unnecessary access to areas and interiors. Identify capacity limits for each accessible area.
  10. Self-service. Provide a supply of goods and consumables outside to be purchased and handled by the customer (bottled water, food, sunscreen etc.).
  11. Safe disposal. Provide garbage facilities for disposal of used sanitizing wipes, PPE, and other waste.
  12. Monitor health. Screen workers regularly for health issues. Ask customers and crew to refrain from attending if symptoms develop.
  13. Circulate fresh air. Increase airflow to interiors by opening doors and windows to reduce contaminant build-up.

Many authorities acknowledge that each operating context is unique and you should develop and communicate your own policies and practices that best apply for your situation. Always follow the most recent direction from your local health unit or local government.