CRUISING ACTIVITY GRINDS TO A TEMPORARY HALT
How quickly situations can change. Just a few weeks ago we all watched TV news in amazement as parts of China went into total lockdown and thought that could never happen here. The humorists among us joked that if it happens we could all go boating, but sadly it seems not.
The first affects on boating were overseas, as when international borders were closed to travel this applied to pleasure boaters too. By mid-March some countries including France and Greece had placed a complete ban on all movements of recreational boats and closed harbours and marinas except to ferries. Cruisers with boats located overseas started canceling their overseas travel as there was no point in traveling if they couldn’t use their boat and soon after that travel became virtually impossible anyway.
This applied to the very disappointed Queenslanders who bought our boat Envoy based in Greece and who will now probably have to wait until next year for their maiden cruise.
In mid-March people aged over 70 were asked to stay home and on 27 March New Zealand went into lock down.
At first many people thought this situation may provide an ideal time to go boating and fishing but this has since received some clarification.
We were aboard our boat Rapport in Coromandel Harbour when the lockdown was announced commencing a few days later. We decided to head home to comply. A strong north-westerly had built a boisterous chop in the Firth of Thames, so we set out when the wind dropped early on the last morning before the lockdown when the conditions were perfect.
Arriving back at our marina we found many boat owners busy loading supplies and intending to head out before the lockdown started. Several of them commented to us that they “don’t know if this is allowed or not”. One person says he’s loaded his boat with supplies so “has to go”. Another says that his and other families intend to “group isolate” in their boats on the water. Generally there was a festive atmosphere, like Boxing Day when boaties load up and depart for their holidays.
On 24 March Coastguard sent an email message to their members and part of this reads:
“We have has a lot of calls and messages from the public asking if they’re able to go out on the water during the lockdown period; our answer is no”.
This is based on the fact that by going out on the water you could potentially get into trouble and require assistance, putting Coastguard or other authorities at risk during the lockdown.
In Marlborough the harbour master has declared that boating is not permitted during the lockdown and that patrols will ensure this is adhered to.
The situation was further clarified a day or so later on TV news when fishing and boating were specifically advised as non-permitted activities. Several boating clubs have advised boating is not allowed and one of Auckland’s biggest trailer boat launching areas the Outboard Boating club, has closed its facilities for the duration of the lockdown.
Just today our marina emailed berth holders saying it has noticed an increase in people coming to the marina to do maintenance or just to visit their boats and stating it is not permitted to come to the marina for any reason during the lockdown.
Even as of 31/3 I can’t find any information online that expressly forbids boating (except for trailer boating), but my view is boating now would be irresponsible – why?
- It ignores the advice of Coastguard, other SAR authorities and boating clubs
- If we are over 70 it’s a no brainer, we are required to stay at home
- We are only permitted to travel for essential purposes including to and from designated essential work, buying food and obtaining medical services - so travel to and from the marina does not qualify
- It’s not practically possible to pass by other people on marina berth fingers and maintain a social distance of over two metres and this risks spreading infections
- To attempt to go boating would contravene the spirit of the lockdown (as well as possibly the law)
It will be interesting to see if people attempt to treat this Easter as a normal one and head to their marina to go cruising.
Anyway one week of the period has almost passed so it hopefully won’t be too much longer before boating returns to normal.