Florida imposes closures on launch ramps and public marinas amid coronavirus.
With life in general pretty much shut down, the idea of filling the family boat up with fuel and hitting the water never sounded so good. My family and I live on a chain of lakes in central Florida. It’s not the Caribbean, but it has its own charm with moss-covered oak trees dotting the shores and plenty of room for wakeboarding and fishing. There’s also a wide stretch of sandy bottom in waist-deep water—the sandbar.
The kids love the sandbar. But as we pulled into the main lake, I could see the staggering number of boats clear across on the other side. We pulled up and dropped the hook on the fringes. It looked like Memorial Day weekend. Volleyball games, cannonballs, beers, paddleboarders, all within a pretty close proximity. I glanced at Facebook and saw people commenting on the number of boats. Name calling ensued. But the funny thing was, most of the people spouting off were also at the sandbar!
We decided to venture off to a little beach area we like away from the crowd. It was shady, and there was only one other boat there and a couple of dogs for the kids to play with.
Further south, the sandbar scenes at Peanut Island in Palm Beach and Haulover in Miami got out of hand. The raft ups included multiple boats, and though it did seem a tad more scattered than normal from the videos on the local news, it was too close for comfort. Those people more concerned with finding a party than social distancing ruined what could’ve been a much needed escape.
As footage of the party made the rounds, the local government stepped in. Miami-Dade County closed all public marinas and boat ramps, minus a few exceptions. A statement issued by Miami-Dade County specifies that marinas, fueling and other marina services provide “essential business services during emergencies including access to living space, repair services and other vital needs.”
- Boats or ferries supporting Port Miami and Fisher Island
- Boats returning from international waters
- Commercial saltwater fishing license holders
- Patrol, enforcement and rescue vessels
On Sunday, March 22, Palm Beach County followed suit, closing ramps and marinas amid coronavirus concerns.
“We can still get to the boat,” said Eddie Twyford, a crewmember on the 92-foot Viking Fa-La-Me, docked at Sailfish Marina. “They have some cones and a blockade at the front and ask for your name and the boat name.” The marina is closed to the public, as is the restaurant and ship’s store.
Until any more closures are announced, about the best way to get out on the water is via a private dock. Mooring regulations are still a bit hazy, but that may be an option as well.
This is a developing story that we will continue to update.