Comox marina. Photo by Mike Chouinard

BOATING WITH BARB: How COVID-19 has affected pleasure boating

Many marinas are closed to transient boaters due to pandemic

Barb Thomson

Special to The Record

Imagine this: you are sick and tired of the COVID-19 news. You are sick and tired of being stuck at home, and now, to make things even worse, the sun is shining, the seas are calm, and your boat is calling. Who wouldn’t want to escape? So you pack up the boat and head out, leaving the troubles of the world in the wake behind you. Except in the hurry and relief of getting away, you may also have left behind

1. the extra fuel

2. a tool kit

3. your sublingual nitroglycerin spray

4. the handy crystal ball that allows you to see deadheads, rogue waves, or the innumerable unpredictable events that can happen to the best of boaters, resulting in a call to the Canadian Coast Guard.

Traditionally, and mandated under the Canada Shipping Act, boaters help other boaters. In this spirit of good seamanship and mutual aide, a letter April 23 from the Coast Guard asks all fellow mariners for help “by avoiding non-essential trips,” and to “consider staying close to home to save lives as our country works to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

What!? Gnashing teeth! Why?

Because even with travel restrictions, the numbers of calls to the Coast Guard have already exceeded this same time period as last year. Every call requires personnel to act in close proximity, while using up limited supplies of necessary and potentially life-saving protective equipment.

The Boating BC Association website repeats the global message, “avoid all non-essential travel,” further reinforced by the fact that a number of marine services, private and public, still offer only limited access, with limited resources. If you need fuel, water, food, or a place to tie up along the way, better call ahead. The virus isn’t sick and tired of us.

In March, just before the park closures, we decided to stop in Lund Harbour Marina after a few days out on our sailboat. We were met on the breakwater by harbour staff saying this was the last day allowed for transient moorage. Our seemingly benign visit could bring a fatal COVID-19 infection to a resident of Lund, a small community with limited resources. We understood. No one wants a temporary reprieve for themselves with a permanent consequence for someone else. It was good to go home.

For more information, read Boating BC’s article on maintaining social distancing while boating, at

Canadian Coast Guard links to COVID-19:

ALSO: BOATING WITH BARB: Tides and currents


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