RYA Cymru Wales and RNLI pave the way for safe return to boating

Safety is paramount as watersports are set to resume
05 Jun 20

Following changes in Government guidance for Wales, whichallow people to participate in more outdoor activities, RYA Cymru Wales isengaging with the RNLI and representatives from the ports and leisure marineindustry to help ensure a safe return to recreational boating activity.The Welsh Government has announced that it wants toencourage people to spend time outdoors and exercise as often as they wish, aslong as they are following social distancing guidelines. This means, alone,with members of their household, or with one person from outside of theirhousehold.Guidancefor Welsh boating clubs considering a safe plan to restart activity isavailable on the RYA Cymru Wales website and should be used to prepare tore-open facilities ahead of the next review of 18th of June, 2020.

Working inpartnership

In preparation for the return to watersports, the RYA andRNLI have been working together throughout the lockdown and continue to do so,to ensure that boaters can return to activities on the water as quickly andsafely as possible.Gerwyn Owen, RYA Cymru Wales Chief Executive, explains: “Wewelcome the Welsh Government enabling people to participate in more outdooractivities that will be beneficial to our communities.”“After such a long period in lockdown people will want toenjoy sailing, windsurfing or motor boating, especially given the favourableweather conditions. However, people will need to remain within their localcommunities, meaning generally not to travel further than 5 miles, with noovernight stays on boats, no landing in communities beyond their immediatelocal areas and the requirement to return to point of departure.“Social distancing and hygiene considerations will need tobe considered when undertaking such activities with crews only made of peoplefrom the same household. Currently restrictions still remain in place for cluband centre facilities, but this gives them the time before the next review onJune 18th to implement appropriate control measures to re-open activities.”

Stay local, stay safe

Alice Beetlestone, from the RNLI’s Water Safety Team inWales, adds: "We completely understand that people will want to take tothe water, particularly if the good weather we have seen in recent weekscontinues. Our volunteer lifeboat crews are still ready to respond during thepublic health crisis, but crew volunteers are under increased pressure andplace themselves at risk responding to incidents. So we are urging anyone whois planning a return to the water to follow key water safety advice, whichincludes ensuring equipment is maintained and functioning correctly, makingsure that lifesaving apparatus is available, carrying an appropriate means ofcalling for help and always wearing a personal floatation device. By followingthis advice we can work together to enjoy a safer summer and reduce the demandon our crews and other emergency services."

Boaters are being reminded that while the RNLI is working toestablish a lifeguard service on some Welsh beaches in the coming weeks, atpresent there are no RNLI lifeguards on the beaches of Wales.  Although the charity's volunteer lifeboatcrews are fully operational, should they be needed, it is important that anyonevisiting the coast understands the risk and takes the necessary steps to keepthemselves safe. This will also help to reduce the demands placed on the RNLIand Independent Lifeboat crews and other emergency services including HMCoastguard.

Gerwyn concludes: “This is a significant step forward for areturn to boating in Wales, however the current restrictions will only seeboaters who have direct access to their boats and to the waters will be able toenjoy their chosen activity. We continue to work with the Welsh Government toidentify a phased approach to organised activities, training and racing. Wewill continue to be considerate and responsible in our decisions and actions.By being prepared this will mitigate the risk to the boating community, thecommunities around them and the emergency services at this unprecedented time.”

“As we start to get back on the water, we advise boaters tobe mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users anddo not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services.”

You can keep with the Return to Boating plan by RYA CymruWales, engage on online forums for members, clubs and centres as well asgeneral guidance during this Covid-19 period by clicking here