RYA working with RNLI to ensure a safe return to boating now that people can to travel to the coast

English marinas and sailing clubs are permitted to open today following a change in Government guidance which allows people to travel to the coast and use the water.

The Government has announced that it wants to encourage people to spend time outdoors and exercise as often as they wish, as long as they are following social distancing guidelines. This means: alone, with members of their household, or with one person from outside of their household.

The RYA is engaging with the RNLI and the ports and leisure marine industry to help ensure a safe return to recreational boating activity after the coronavirus lockdown.

Guidance for English Sailing Clubs considering a safe plan to restart activity is available on the RYA website and the Home Country Governments have issued their own phased plans and measures.

In preparation for the return to watersports, the RYA and RNLI have been working together throughout the coronavirus lockdown and continue to do so, to ensure that boaters can return to activities on the water as quickly and safely as possible.

Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, explains: “We know that many people will choose to participate in water-based activities such as sailing, motor boating, kayaking and angling  – especially given the longevity of the lockdown restrictions to date and the favourable weather conditions we’ve been enjoying.  In line with Government guidelines for public spaces, the boating community may now drive to their destination so long as they observe social distancing.

“We welcome the Government’s guidance that general day trip leisure activities are being encouraged and we will continue to work with the RNLI to ensure this is done safely.”

Gareth Morrison, RNLI Head of Water Safety, adds: “We completely understand that people will want to take to the water, particularly as the weather improves. Our volunteer lifeboat crews are still ready to respond during the public health crisis.

“However, we are urging anyone who is planning a return to the water to follow key water safety advice, which includes ensuring equipment is maintained and functioning correctly, and making sure that lifesaving apparatus is available. By following this advice we can work together to enjoy a safer summer and reduce the demand on our crews and other emergency services.”

Boaters are reminded that there are currently no RNLI lifeguards on beaches and although the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are fully operational, should they be needed, it is important that anyone visiting the coast understands the risk and takes the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.  This will also help to reduce the demands placed on the RNLI and Independent Lifeboat crews and other emergency services including HM Coastguard.

Sarah concludes: “As we start to get back on the water, we advise boaters to take a considerate and conservative approach when planning to go afloat; be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services. Finally, proper preparation will prevent accidents and is a vital step to getting back on the water safely.”

Over the coming days the RYA will be issuing further guidance to RYA recognised training centres, affiliated clubs and classes, and RYA Members once it has more detailed sector-specific clarification. In the meantime, COVID-19 advice and guidance can be found on the RYA website.