RYA leads call for immediate access to marinas

The RYA has received considerable correspondence from those not able to gain access to boats now that most marinas have closed, according to Marine Industry News.

“We are acutely aware that our members currently have valid concerns about the inability to undertake checks in respect of security and essential maintenance,” says an RYA statement. “Boat owners need access to their property to undertake essential maintenance, for example checks for water ingress, maintenance of engines and electrical installations that cannot be undertaken by marina staff. Many boat owners are also obligated by their insurers to visit their vessel regularly to avoid cover being refused in respect of maintenance related claims. The RYA’s advice to members is that you should check this aspect of your insurance policy with your insurers no matter what the policy states,” the statement reads.

The association has written to key Government Ministers seeking definitive guidance that will give a clear and practical way forward to give owners immediate access to their boats.

Over recent weeks, the RYA has been in discussions with the Government officials making the case for limited and controlled access to boats locked down in marinas. The RYA believes that visiting marinas and spending time working on a boat that is moored or ashore can be readily achieved within the parameters of the existing core Government advice regarding hygiene and social distancing. With representations to date not delivering a solution to what is evidently a critical issue for affected members, the RYA is taking the case to Ministers and calling for the support of Members of Parliament.

“We acknowledge and appreciate that marina operators are working as hard as possible under difficult circumstances and are doing their best to take care of boats during the lockdown,” says Sarah Treseder, RYA Chief Executive. “However, marina staff obviously cannot undertake the sort of essential maintenance that responsible owners would do.

“The significant number of approaches that the RYA has received from members demonstrates that this is a critical issue for boat owners. We believe there are measures that could be permitted immediately within the existing Government guidance to allow access for essential maintenance. All are predicated on the overarching need to keep people socially distant from those outside their immediate household, to shield the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions, and prevent unnecessary travel.

“The RYA fully supports the measures that the Government has put in place to tackle the spread of the virus, and we understand the motivation of marina operators to support Government action and safeguard their staff and customers. We will engage with them to work collaboratively to deliver a solution for boat owner access within the parameters of existing Government guidance on hygiene and social distancing.

“As a membership organisation, the RYA will continue to robustly represent members’ interests and support personal members who contact us directly in respect of their experiences with individual marinas.”

With all sports starting to consider recovery, the RYA is developing a ‘Return to Boating’ strategy aimed at getting the message over that there is a very strong case for boating to be one of the first activities that could be resumed safely within any necessary parameters for social distancing, once there’s a relaxation of the current restrictions.

In response to a recent article in which the Irish Marine Federation called on its government for boat owners to access their vessel at a marina or mooring, MIN asked British Marine if it was pushing for easing of access to marinas, and what plans are being put forward to ease out of the current situation.

“British Marine fully supports any safe steps or measures that will allow our sector to return to work, and to that end we are actively in dialogue with members to identify new safe working protocols so that we can help to speed things up,” British Marine’s Commercial Director, Dean Smith, says. “We introduced a decision tree to help marinas evaluate their situation and make the right decision, and in the UK it is possible for marina tenants to continue their work if they can do so safely. Some of the obvious challenges we have in British Marine in relation to lobbying come from the fact that we are a diverse segment with manufacturing at one end and leisure participation at the other, but we are in dialogue with government to promote boating as one of the sectors that could implement the necessary safeguards to ensure it could be one of the first activities permitted.

“Over the course of the next few weeks, British Marine will be holding webinars to discuss the subject and we will continue with our idea sharing so that we find the safest and fastest way back to work.”