How to Shuttle Boats & Paddlers with Social Distance

kayakers paddling

We’re all longing to get out of the house and on the water in a kayak, packraft or SUP board. Not just because of two months+ of quarantine, but because the weather’s beautiful and summer is upon us!

How do we do that in a safe, socially-distanced way?

Why Should We Paddle Now?

Paddling is one of the safest activities you can do if your concern is the spread of viruses. Here’s why…

Most kayaks, packrafts and SUP boards are designed for one person. Because of the size of your watercraft and the paddle length itself, it’s very unlikely you’ll be within 6 feet of your paddling buddies.

Not only that, you’ll be outdoors in the fresh air. Viruses are much less likely to be concentrated than indoors in recycled air. Your immune system and overall health is boosted with time in the sun, exercise and being in nature.

How is COVID-19 (and other viruses) Spread?

The CDC (Center for Disease Control in the US) released a statement in late May that COVID-19 is mainly spread through person-to-person contact when people are close to each other.

They’ve found that people touching surfaces is not a primary way for the virus to spread. For example, there’s no indication the virus is being spread in grocery stores through people touching food packaging.

It never hurts to be careful, of course. Wipe down paddles and the parts of watercraft that get handled a lot. But chances are you won’t catch the virus by touching surfaces, especially if there’s a day or so in-between contact.

Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Let’s face it, life is a risk! Kayaking, paddle boardings, packrafting, canoeing—being on water involves some risk. Yes, there is some risk you’ll contract a virus anytime you’re with others.

But look at the benefits: better mental and emotional health, stronger immune system, time with others, time away from screens. And fun!

Unless your health puts you in the high-risk group for coronavirus, there’s a great chance the benefits of getting on the water outweigh the risks of catching this virus when the people you’re with are also healthy.

Members of Household vs. Groups of Family & Friends

Of course if you plan to paddle with other members of your household, there’s no need to keep socially distanced. You already live together. Just go have fun.

If you want to meet a group of friends or other family members you don’t live with, you can easily follow some simple safety guidelines:

  • Drive separately and meet there.
  • Use the kayak, packraft or SUP board you bring. Or wipe down equipment with disinfectant before someone else uses it.
  • Take turns launching so you can keep that 6 feet of distance.
  • When you finish up, take turns getting back in so you can keep the proper distance.
  • Wipe down any gear that’ll change hands when you’re packing up.
kayakers on a river

(photo courtesy of @jay_siemens)

When You Need to Rent from an Outfitter

If you need to rent your gear, the outfitter you go through will have already outlined their safety standards. Some rental options you’ve been used to in the past may not be offered this summer.

For example, one of the kayak and canoe rental services near our factory here in Osceola, Wisconsin is still renting their boats for a paddle down the St. Croix River. But they’re not currently offering a return shuttle back to your car. You’ll need to work out a shuttle plan of your own.

Another outfitter is reducing their tour offerings right now, not using private shuttles, not selling food or beverages, and asking for face masks when needed.

So call or jump online to learn the guidelines of your local outfitters. Open communication is the best policy so both you and the outfitting staff are comfortable with your rental needs and the overall safety guidelines.

Do you have a question this article didn’t cover? Contact our Wisconsin-based Customer Service team today: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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