A surge in boat sales and boat traffic has been greeted as welcome news by Maine’s marinas, yacht brokers, boatyards and boatbuilders, but reports of large numbers of boats rafting up is causing concern that COVID-19 transmission levels may also go up.
Maine’s Lewiston Sun Journal reported that on Saturday, a Massachusetts doctor witnessed a cluster of eight boats—some filled past capacity—tied together in a line offshore in Casco Bay. The doctor was horrified, but getting people to break up their rafts is no easy chore.
Kevin Battle, Portland’s Harbormaster, told the Sun Journal that when they tell boaters to spread out, they might get an expletive in return.
Casco Bay and Portland are not the only places large boat gatherings are happening. Much farther Downeast, closer to Acadia National Park, Phillip LaFrance of Brooklin was sailing past a private island last Friday and couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw eight boats moored near shore with 40 or more people on the beach, not physically distancing.
La France and his wife tried to engage with the group on Opechee Island, off Naskeag Point in Brooklin, but did not meet with success. “They were mad at us for ruining their good time,” he told the Sun Journal.
Maine Marine Patrol is struggling to enforce the governor’s social distancing regulations. Manpower is one of the challenges. From Yarmouth to Kittery they might only have a couple of officers patrolling and the U.S. Coast Guard has no jurisdiction to enforce any COVID-19 restrictions.
Maine’s governor set stringent restrictions and the state has one of the lowest per capita coronavirus rates in the country, which may be giving some boaters a sense of invincibility.
You can read more in the Sun Journal.