Three State Governors have given marinas the go-ahead to open up for the 2020 boating season.

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Before you begin planning your Candlewood Lake seven-boat flotilla over at Chicken Rock, there are restrictions according to the Connecticut Department of Environmental and Energy Protection. CT Governor Lamont, NY Governor Cuomo, and NJ Governor Murphy got together and decided that boatyard and marinas will be allowed to open for personal use.

Restrictions on personal use of watercraft include the practice of social distancing and sanitation protocols, as illustrated in the following photo.

Mindy enjoying social distancing and lake protocol - Ethan Photo

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has listed a set of guidelines to follow to ensure the boater's safety during the pandemic. One of the instructions state, "Boat occupants should be limited to cohabitating family members only and groups of no more than five." See the full list of DEEP's list of guidelines below. But before that, the following photo would be an example of what NOT to do in a boating situation.

Boat flotilla on Candlewood Lake - Photo by Ethan

According to an article from WFSB, boat rentals and chartered watercraft service will not be allowed to open. Any restaurant that is part of a marina or boatyard will only be able to offer take-out and delivery.

I did chat with Krista, one of the managers at the immensely popular Down the Hatch Restaurant located lakeside in Brookfield. She told me:

We're hoping to open up sometime in May for take-out. The opening for dine-in on the patio will be determined by the Governor and the CDC guidelines.

To use Connecticut’s boat launches safely, DEEP offers the following guidance:

  • Parking in state boat launches is only for boating, fishing, or wildlife observation (where permitted). Other non-permitted activities could increase use, reduce safety, and jeopardize the availability of the facilities.  Anyone not engaged in these activities should not be using boat launches and will be asked to leave by DEEP Environmental Conservation Police.
  • Gatherings of people at state boat launches must be limited to not more than 5 people per Governor Lamont’s Executive Order number 7N.
  • Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on maintaining 6-foot social distancing from others must be followed at all times.  When possible, leave an empty parking space between your vehicle and others in the lot.
  • Boaters should depart the ramp area as quickly as possible when launching or retrieving your boat.
  • Boat occupants should be limited to cohabitating family members only, and groups of no more than five.
  • Recreate locally.  Rather than traveling to some of Connecticut’s more popular boat launches, discover new boating spots close to home.  Consult the DEEP Boating website for alternate launching locations.
  • If a boat launch appears to be crowded, consider visiting a different boat launch, or returning at a different time or day.

To boat on Connecticut waterways safely, DEEP offers the following guidance:

  • Do not raft or tie-up your vessel with other vessels.
  • Do not share your equipment or vessel with other boaters.
  • Wear gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and practice proper social distancing when using public equipment such as gas pumps or pumpout facilities.
  • Coastal and inland water temperatures remain cold and boaters should wear life jackets at all times.  A reminder that state law requires anyone operating or riding in a manually-propelled vessel such as a canoe or kayak is required to wear a life jacket until May 31st.

DEEP also wishes to provide some additional information for out-of-state boaters using Connecticut’s waters:

  • Per Governor Lamont’s guidance, any person coming to Connecticut by means of transportation, including by boat, are strongly urged to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • Out of state boaters are reminded that prior to operating on Connecticut’s inland waters, an Aquatic Invasive Species stamp is required to be purchased online.  The demarcation line between inland and coastal waters can be found on the DEEP Boating website.

DEEP will continue to closely monitor capacity and use of the state boat launches and may consider alternate management strategies for these facilities as demand increases.  DEEP staff are currently developing operational plans for the state’s most popular boat launches, including Squantz Cove and Gardner Lake, including possible targeted reductions in parking availability and other measures on a launch-specific basis to ensure the safety of Connecticut’s boaters.