It’s a difficult time for all as we try to adapt to keep our community safe to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For boat owners, we are lucky to be able to enjoy time out on the water on our boats and not be stuck inside, while still practicing social distancing.
With beaches, parks, and many other public facilities closing, boating and fishing from our own vessels are one of the few activities we are still able to do within government regulations.
But with constant changes, businesses closing, and new state and local directives going into effect, some boaters are unsure on what the rules are. We’ve compiled all the information here to give you a guide on how to boat safely in Southwest Florida during COVID-19.
Government Orders for Safe Boating
An executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis requires boats to remain at least 50 feet apart and no more than 10 people allowed on a boat. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is in charge of enforcing these rules and have officers out on the water to make sure boaters are complying.
On Tuesday, March 26th, the Lee County Sherriff’s department held a press conference where they urged boaters to follow social distancing guidelines while they are out on the water. They gave a list of safe boating guidelines to adhere to, including:
- Limit offshore gatherings to groups of 10 or less
- Practice the six-foot social distancing rule while at boat ramps and marinas
- Only boat with members of your household your isolating with
- Refrain from “rafting” or tying watercraft together, which allows people to easily pass from boat to boat
- Self-isolate if not feeling well
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, rafts, and lotions
- Sanitize hands after fueling watercraft
What’s Open for Business?
Currently, most boat ramps remain open to the public. With the closing of state parks, any boat ramps that were attached to a state park will be closed. The Florida Wildlife Commission has a Florida Public Boat Ramp Finder which is being updated every 24 hours that will tell you what boat ramps near you are open or closed.
Keewaydin Island, Marco Island beaches, and most other beaches, state-owned islands and sandbars are closed, so vessels are not able to land there. Closures do not include state waters, so you can still enjoy a recreational cruise or fishing out on the water as long as proper social distancing guidelines are followed.
Many marinas are still open, and many dock side restaurants are still open for takeout but be sure to call ahead to make sure things are still operating as normal.
Fish Tale Boats is Open for Sales & Service
If you’re still looking for your dream boat, our sales team is here to help you find it. We are open with limited office access, so call for more information on our boats or to schedule a private viewing. You can also take a look at all our inventory online here.
Our service department is also operating fully (by appointment only) to help you get your boat ready to go out on the water. To set up an appointment, give us a call at (239) 463-4448.
For any other questions, please give us a call or contact us online! We’re here to help for all of your boating needs.