BC is moving through a four-phase restart program. Phase 1 provided for essential services only. Some marinas including fuel docks, deemed essential services, remained open during phase 1. Phase 2, which began in mid-May, allows for recreation and sporting activities, certain businesses to reopen, and some parks to reopen. Phase 2 asks that people stay close to home and avoid travel between communities. Phase 3 is slated for June to September and is conditioned upon virus transmission rates remaining low, and provides for hotels and resorts to open in June. In Phase 3, more parks will open and people can travel throughout British Columbia.
While Phase 1’s limitations on non-essential travel encompassed recreational boating, some people were out using their boats as a social distancing method. With Phase 2 in place allowing recreation and sporting activities, there are more recreational boats on BC waters. Marine facilities that closed their guest moorage during Phase 1 are now opening with Covid-19 safety measures. During Phase 2, the request to stay near home and limit travel is still in effect. Phase 3 will provide for more free travel movement; and therefore, provide for a more complete reopening of recreational boating. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, BC boaters have been cruising/sailing for day trips and overnight stays. Early mixed messaging regarding recreational boating prompted some boaters to use boating for social distancing and stay-home requests.
The international border remains closed to non-essential travel through June 21. Canadians returning to
Canada are currently required to quarantine (self-isolate) for 14 days. After the Canada-U.S. border
opens, it is likely that the quarantine mandate will still be in effect for all travelers entering Canada.
Covid-19 Safe Boating Guidelines
B.C. asks that boaters use Covid-19 safe practices at boating facilities, public places, and on public transit, including wearing face coverings. See Waggoner Guide’s Safe Boating Guidelines for a complete list of Safe Boating recommendations. Many marinas have established protocols and procedures for marina services and amenities to insure a Covid-19 safe environment.
BC Provincial Parks
Effective May 14, BC Parks started opening the majority of their parks and marine parks for day-use. This includes boat launches, beaches, trails, restrooms, and picnic areas for day-use only. Not all parks will participate in this opening, some of the more popular parks remain closed to avoid crowding, including Princess Louisa Park. Enforcement of day-use restrictions is unknown. On June 1, BC Parks started opening campgrounds. For a complete list go to: http://bcparks.ca/covid-19/parks-affected/. For details and answers to questions see http://bcparks.ca/covid-19/.
Parks Canada and Gulf Islands National Parks Reserve
Effective June 1st, Parks Canada sites and Gulf Islands National Reserve areas started opening some park day-use areas, including trails, and green spaces. Some park amenities and facilities may not initially be open. Camping facilities remain closed until June 21. Access by kayak or boat access is discouraged.
Southern Gulf Islands Communities
During Phase 1 and into the beginning of Phase 2, Southern Gulf Islands Trust representatives asked that visitors defer their visits to the islands. Medical services and provisions are limited at small, rural communities. For more information go to: www.southerngulfislands.com/covid-19.
Islands Communities (including Gulf Islands, Howe Sound, Quadra, Denman, and Cortez Islands) During Phase 1, representatives from more than one organization for island communities asked visitors to refrain from visiting the islands. During Phase 2, most of these requests for visitors to refrain from travel remain, with one renewed in early May. For more details see Strathcona Regional District www.srd.ca, Islands Trust www.islandstrust.bc.ca, and Southern Gulf Islands
Sunshine Coast Communities
During Phase I, Pender Harbour, Egmont, Powell River, and Lund areas have been sensitive to accepting visitors. With the beginning of Phase 2, marinas are now beginning to open up for guest moorage in Pender Harbour. Lund facilities and Westview remain closed at this time. For a list of area marinas in BC that are open/closed go to: https://waggonerguide.com/covid-19/. As guest boaters, be aware and sensitive to locals’ concerns and wishes.
West Coast Vancouver Island – Tofino and Ucluelet Communities
The communities of Tofino, Ucluelet, and neighboring First Nations Reserves are asking that visitors defer all travel to their area. They cite their isolated location and limited support services for the need to remain isolated. Their requests originated during Phase 1 and remain in place into Phase 2. For more information see https://ucluelet.ca/community/covid-19-update and http://tofino.ca/blog/view/covid- 19-updates. As guest boaters, be aware and sensitive to locals’ concerns and wishes.
North Vancouver Island and the Broughtons
The season for most resorts and marinas in the Broughtons and North Vancouver Island normally begins in mid to late May, so the mid-May start of Phase 2 is working well for this area. Marina’s and resort facilities are in the process of opening or are open. Port McNeill, Port Hardy, and Broughton marinas are accepting guest moorage; expect to find some Covid-19 safe protocols for their amenities and services, and social distancing practiced. Many of the smaller communities and especially the tribal communities wish to remain isolated and do not want visitors. For the up-to-date status of communities and marinas
Throughout Covid-19 there have been no changes to BC’s recreational fishing regulations.
Marinas & Fuel Docks
During Phase 1, many marinas were closed to guest moorage. Now in Phase 2, most marinas are open and receiving guest boaters, with safe guideline procedures. Most fuel docks, deemed essential, continue to be open to the public. Waggoner Guide continues to maintain an up-to-date open/closed status for marinas, parks, borders, and cruising destinations, see www.WaggonerGuide.com/covid-19 for the latest.
We welcome the opportunity to get back out on the water; however, this is not a return to normal pre-Covid-19 recreational boating. We need to make a few changes to our boating routine to be safe during Covid-19 that go beyond the everyday practices of wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing.
Download our Covid-19 Safe Boating Guidelines PDF you will find safe boating guidelines that are specifically geared to help boaters.