With the current COVID-19 pandemic forcing the country into lockdown, the RYA has received a considerable number of enquiries from members who are not able to gain access to their boats now that most marinas have closed.
We are acutely aware that our members currently have valid concerns about the inability to undertake checks in respect of security and essential maintenance. In response, the RYA is writing to key Government Ministers seeking definitive guidance that will give a clear and practical way forward to give owners immediate access to their boats whilst respecting current measures to control COVID-19.
Over recent weeks the RYA has been in discussions with the Government officials making the case for limited and controlled access to boats locked down in marinas. The RYA believes that visiting marinas and spending time working on a boat that is moored or ashore can be readily achieved within the parameters of the existing core Government advice regarding hygiene and social distancing. With representations to date not delivering a solution to what is evidently a critical issue for affected members, the RYA is taking the case to Ministers and calling for the support of Members of Parliament.
Boat owners need access to their property to undertake essential maintenance, for example checks for water ingress, maintenance of engines and electrical installations that cannot be undertaken by marina staff. Many boat owners are also obligated by their insurers to visit their vessel regularly to avoid cover being refused in respect of maintenance related claims. The RYA’s advice to members is that you should check this aspect of your insurance policy with your insurers no matter what the policy states. A lockdown insurance update has also been published on the RYA website.
Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive, says: “We acknowledge and appreciate that marina operators are working as hard as possible under difficult circumstances, and are doing their best to take care of boats during the lockdown. However, marina staff obviously cannot undertake the sort of essential maintenance that responsible owners would do.
“The significant number of approaches that the RYA has received from members demonstrates that this is a critical issue for boat owners. We believe there are measures that could be permitted immediately within the existing Government guidance to allow access for essential maintenance. All are predicated on the overarching need to keep people socially distant from those outside their immediate household, to shield the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, and prevent unnecessary travel.
“The RYA fully supports the measures that the Government has put in place to tackle the spread of the virus and we understand the motivation of marina operators to support Government action and safeguard their staff and customers. We will engage with them to work collaboratively to deliver a solution for boat owner access within the parameters of existing Government guidance on hygiene and social distancing.
“As a membership organisation, the RYA will continue to robustly represent members’ interests and support personal members who contact us directly in respect of their experiences with individual marinas. Concerned members should contact [email protected] and use the RYA Coronavirus hub, which outlines current advice and information for recreational boaters.”
With all sports starting to consider recovery, the RYA is developing a ‘Return to Boating’ strategy aimed at getting the message over that there is a very strong case for boating to be one of the first activities that could be resumed safely within any necessary parameters for social distancing, once we start to see a relaxation of the current restrictions.
“We remain committed to representing the interests of our valued members and the wider boating community and we look forward to seeing you back on the water when as soon as it is safe and advisable for us to do so,” Sarah concludes.