Boaters urged to stay at home and not plan weekend getaways

Boaters have been urged to stay at home and not “potter” at their vessels or plan weekend getaways under the pretext of outdoor exercise.

Scotland's boating community has been urged to stay at home amid the pandemic and not to plan weekend getaways. PIC: Creative Commons/Rosser 1954.

The Royal Yachting Association Scotland has issued new guidance for the boating community in light of Scotland moving broadly into a national lockdown.

Boaters have been told they can only visit their vessels if they live in the same area as their mooring and while essential maintenance is allowed, they have been urged not to go onboard and “potter” for longer than is necessary.

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Crucially, while boating is permitted under outdoor exercise rules, boaters have been told not to use this as a justification for taking their boat out over the weekend.

The guidance, released today (Friday), said: “Travel for essential maintenance should not be used as a pretext to spend the day onboard ‘pottering’ or for a weekend away. You should not stay longer than the length of time required to undertake essential maintenance.”

Marinas, boatyards and clubs are allowed to open to local boat owners but it is understood that many would prefer if boat owners didn’t appear at all.

One marina owner on the west coast, who asked not to be named, said: “Personally, as someone who manages a marina, I would prefer it if people didn’t come at all and most marina operators are asking that owners stay away.

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"We have a duty of care to staff as well as the vessels and that becomes more challenging if there are umpteen customers around."

The marina owner said there had, so far, been no cases of people coming from outwith their area to visit their boats.

"The majority of our customers come from further afield, from all over Scotland and England, and it is amazing the support we have had. It’s a lot to do with the time of year and the weather. These are the very quiet times.”

Donald Mackenzie, harbour master at the Isle of Canna in the Inner Hebrides said there had been no vessels had been arriving at the harbour in recent months, given that most are only insured for the summer season.

He said: “I have been aware of a couple of large ocean-going yachts in the area but to date no one has come here. Technically, the harbour is closed to leisure craft at the moment and this fact has been publicised via Scottish boating social media sites.

“Should a yacht appear in the harbour they will be politely advised not to come ashore and return to their home waters.

“It is unlikely that we will have any visiting boats until April, by which time it is hoped the country will be in a better position.

James Allan, CEO at RYA Scotland said. “Lockdown will be disappointing for everyone, but it is still possible to go boating as a form of exercise and spending some time afloat or near the water is great for our wellbeing.

“It is important to remember we are in the grip of a pandemic that has become significantly worse in recent weeks, the overriding message for Scotland’s boating community is to ‘Stay at Home’ wherever possible as we must all help stop the spread of the virus.”

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