Monument Beach Boat Ramp

Launching at Monument Beach boat ramp during a past boating season

As summer approaches, so too does one of the Cape’s most-popular recreational activities—boating.

To ensure the health and safety of everyone who chooses to spend leisure time on the open water, new boating and marina guidelines have been issued to guard against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bourne Town Administrator Anthony E. Schiavi announced the new guidelines in his weekly update last Friday, May 1. Mr. Schiavi said that he, department of natural resources director Christopher M. Southwood and Health Agent Terri A. Guarino established the new measures “for marina and boat ramp operations.”

Mr. Southwood said many of the regulations adopted by the Town of Bourne mirror those being enacted by neighboring towns, including Falmouth and Sandwich. The new regulations specifically address coastal boat ramp use, recreational boating and for-hire boating.

“It’s all about keeping the staff and the public safe,” he said.

The DNR manages three marinas in Bourne: Taylor Point Marina at the Cohasset Narrows in Buzzards Bay; Monument Beach Marina in Phinney’s Harbor; and the Pocasset River Marina on Shore Road.

Mr. Southwood said Bourne’s marinas opened on Friday, May 1. There are 226 slips among the three marinas. Taylor Point and Monument Beach offer fueling stations and private bathrooms and showers. Taylor Point also offers a sanitary pump-out station, while Monument Beach has 35 moorings.

Under the new guidelines, for-hire boating will not be permitted while Governor Charles D. Baker Jr.’s stay-at-home advisory and essential services emergency order remains in effect. The list of services includes charter and head boat fishing; sailboat rentals and lessons; canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals; whitewater rafting and river tubing rentals; whale watches and other pleasure cruises; and any other operation or use of a vessel that is not registered to the passenger.

Recreational boating also becomes more restrictive. Among those guidelines, the only people on a boat at one time should be people from the same household. Gatherings of groups from multiple households will not be permitted on boat ramps, docks and piers. All users must practice social distancing.

Recreational crafts are required to maintain a safe distance. Tying boats or other crafts together is prohibited, according to the new regulations. Social distancing between boats is similar to individuals keeping their distance from one another, Mr. Southwood said.

Boaters are not allowed to tie the craft to a friend’s boat, or have people hopping back and forth between the two. He described past instances when he has seen up to 10 boats tied up alongside each other, with people going from one to the other. That, he said, is not allowed.

Social distancing is key to use of the town’s boat ramps and launches, too. The guidelines stipulate that users must “allow appropriate space for users of the boat ramp or launch.” In addition, boaters are required to “clear the ramp immediately when their launch is complete.”

Users must also “depart quickly from the ramp or dock as soon as their boat is put into the water.” Anyone who is not actively launching a boat must clear the launch area. No one is to park at ramps for activities other than launching boats.

Boat ramps and launches are off limits to anyone involved with an organized fishing tournament or derby, or any other type of gathering. There should be no loitering on ramps or use of ramps for any activity other than launching boats. Mr. Southwood said all the measures adopted are designed with public safety in mind, while also addressing the desire of boaters to enjoy their favorite activity.

“We’re doing what we can to get the boating community open,” he said. “We need to give people an opportunity to get outside and enjoy the water.”

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