Massachusetts COVID-19 Boating Guidelines

boat at ramp

The following are guidelines for boating and various other marine and inland waterway related activities during the duration of Governor Baker’s stay-at-home advisory and essential services order.

Inland boat ramps and canoe launches:

  • Inland boat ramps and canoe launches within state parks, forests, wildlife management areas, boating access facilities and other state owned properties managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts remain open for use by boats being launched by vehicles registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, except where the access has already been closed due to parking restrictions or other restrictions.
  • All other inland boat ramps that are currently managed by municipalities remain open subject to the discretion of the city or town.
  • User Guidelines:
    • Ramps remain open subject to available parking. A ramp will be considered closed if all parking is full. Illegally parked cars will be ticketed and may betowed.
    • All boat ramp and canoe launch users shall practice social distancing. Users should allow appropriate space for users of the boat ramp or launch and clear the ramp when users launch is complete.
    • Users should ensure they are ready to depart quickly from the ramp or dock as soon as their boat is put into the water. Users not actively launching their boat should clear the launch area.
    • Upon return to ramp, users should load their boat as quickly as safely possible and then clear the launch area.
    • Use of ramps for organized fishing tournaments, derbies, or any other type of gathering is prohibited.
    • Loitering on ramps or use of ramps for any activity other than launching boats is prohibited. Parking at ramps for activities other than launching boats is prohibited.
    • Masks or face-coverings should be worn in public in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s advisory when social distancing is not possible.

Coastal Boat Ramps:

  • For commercial, state and municipal uses, coastal boat ramps will remain open.
  • For recreational use, coastal boat ramps managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts remain open for use by boats being launched by vehicles registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • All other coastal boat ramps currently managed by municipalities remain open for recreational use subject to the discretion of the city or town.
  • User Guidelines:
    • Coastal boat ramp parking lots are open for users launching boats, canoes and kayaks, and associated parking. Parking for the purpose of accessing coastal beaches is prohibited.
    • All boat ramp and canoe launch users shall practice social distancing. Users should allow appropriate space for users of the boat ramp or launch and clear the ramp immediately when their launch is complete.
    • Users should ensure they are ready to depart quickly from the ramp or dock as soon as their boat is put into the water. Users not actively launching their boat should clear the launch area.
    • Upon return to ramp, users should load their boat as quickly as safely possible and then clear the launch area.
    • Use of ramps for organized fishing tournaments, derbies, or any other type of gathering is prohibited.oLoitering on ramps or use of ramps for any activity other than launching boats is prohibited. Parking at ramps for activities other than launching boats is prohibited.
    • Masks or face-coverings should be worn in public in accordance with the Department of Public Health’s advisory when social distancing is not possible.

Recreational boating:

  • The safe operation of recreational boats is permitted under the following guidelines:
    • Only persons from the same household should be together on a boat at one time.
    • No gathering or groups of persons from multiple households will be permitted on boat ramps, docks, piers etc., and all users shall practice strict social distancing.
    • All recreational crafts shall remain a safe distance apart. Tying boats or other crafts together is prohibited.
    • All recreational boating is subject to the discretion of local officials, harbormasters, and law enforcement.
    • All local rules, regulations, laws and Coast Guard requirements still apply.

Commercial Boating:

  • Maritime transportation workers, including dredgers, port workers, mariners, ship crewmembers, ship pilots and tugboat operators, equipment operators (to include maintenance and repair, and maritime-specific medical providers), ship supply, chandler, and repair companies have all been deemed essential services under the Governor’s order.
  • Commercial fishing is an essential part of the food supply chain and will continue to be allowed. Workers should follow public health guidance to minimize interactions with each other and the public.
  • All local rules, regulations, laws and Coast Guard requirements still apply.

For Hire Boating:

  • For hire boating will not be permitted while the Governor’s stay at home advisory and essential services order is in effect. This includes:
    • Charter and head boat fishing
    • Sailboat rentals and lessons
    • Canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddleboard rentals
    • White water rafting and river tubing rentals
    • Whale watches and other pleasure cruises
    • Any other operation or use of a vessel that is not registered to the passenger.

24 on “Massachusetts COVID-19 Boating Guidelines

  1. Mohamed Nabelsi

    I am retired no one from household to go with
    Only one or two close friends
    Can go
    What do we do
    This household business
    Was not thought out well
    I may
    As well sell the f…….ink boat
    And and call it off

      1. Tim

        Well, it says “should”, not “shall”. Which to me means you can, but it’s recommended that you don’t.

  2. sonny brooks

    i have a buddy who works in ct. but lives in mass and his truck is registered in ct.his boat is registered in mass. he can’t fish ct. because his boat is reg. in mass. now your saying he can’t fish in mass with a legally reg boat because he reg. his truck in ct.

  3. James

    Sonny, I hear you my angling/boating brother. I live in CT. Truck and boat both registered in CT. Fished Quabbin for 40+ years. Already bought by parking pass for $50 back in March. They’re tentatively set to open May 9th, and yet seeing I’m from CT (which now has lower numbers of COVID19 cases than MA) won’t allow me to fish? Tried to get info to see if Quabbin was pushing it to May 18th for opening but no one seems to know or wants to answer as Quabbin is “non-essential.”

    Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced that the non-essential business closure order and stay-at-home advisory in Massachusetts have been extended through May 18 as coronavirus deaths continue to mount.
    The order and advisory, which were both slated to expire on May 4, have been extended by an additional two weeks, Baker said during a news conference at the State House.

    State officials reported 1,840 new cases Tuesday, the first time in five days the daily tally didn’t decline, pushing confirmed cases to date to 58,302. And with 150 new fatalities, the state’s death toll reached 3,153, trailing only that of New York, New Jersey, and Michigan.
    Restaurants will still be permitted to offer takeout but all non-essential businesses must keep their physical workplaces closed to all employees, customers, and the public until further notice.

  4. RIchard Boucher

    Can anyone shed some light as to exactly what RI COVID fishing regulations are. The last I heard was all parks where closed. I’ve never seen any information regarding boat ramps for salt water fishing. Are they open or closed? The DEM also said you can fish but you need to walk to the fishing areas.

  5. Steve C.

    I believe we will have more casualties from people fishing alone on a boat than people fishing with a friend on a boat.?‍♂️

  6. Rick Barron

    I understand social distancing. I understand following individual state guidelines. What I do not understand is how we went from social distancing and no fishing on any structure designed for launching boats and fishing off if you wear a mask and are 6 ft away from another person, or going fishing with a friend in a boat and he is at one end and you the other 6-8 feet away from each other , wearing a mask. ?? Is the Governor really this stupid or is there some other agenda like, Government over reach at work. Can someone explain reasonableness to me and following slot limits, circle hooks only, but not on plugs, tube and worms, etc. Is there any CLARITY out there!!!

    1. James

      Maybe some light around the corner as it clearly states:
      “during the duration of Governor Baker’s stay-at-home advisory and essential services order.”

      That order is scheduled to to lifted May 18th or thereabouts, correct?
      I know our CT order is being lifted on May 20th, so if all holds true, hopefully we can all be back on all waters by the end of the month.

  7. Peter Graham

    Charlie fascist Faker is a POS and is hell bent on destroying people’s lives. 70% of the people that have died are in nursing homes. Someone put Faker in a home.

  8. Michael Sera

    Question…. These guidelines ONLY apply during Governor Bakers Stay At Home order correct?? Which is potentially set to expire May 18TH?? We will be able to raft our recreation boats this summer and share mornings where allowed etc and have our friends on our boats once the Stay at home order is lifted.. Thanks You Mike

  9. Arthur Schmich

    I live in NY on the NY , Mass border and fish many local lakes in Mass for 25 years.
    does new order May 18 allow me to launch boat in Mass. waters or not ?

  10. Rob

    I am going to continue to fish with my friends and family. This is getting ridiculous. Just more liberal nonsense

    1. sb

      liberal nonsense until you wind up in the hospital putting at risk the people trying to save your sorry ass. yes some of these orders seem over the top and maybe they are a little out of proportion to what is going on – but to suggest this is “liberal nonsense” designed to take away your rights is just laughable. i understand it is hard to grasp the concept of going from being fine to not being able to breath but it does happen. people are making decisions based on the science- none of it perfect but if you go on the assumption that they are making the best decisions they can based on the science to try and keep people safe maybe it will be a little more palatable. without the social distancing and measures done so far thousands more in mass would have already died. maybe you don’t know anyone who has died or been personally affected by this but if you did you maybe you would be a little more understanding of the pressure to get it right.

  11. George

    This is BS. Charter boats are allowed to operate but I can’t use the boat launch 5 miles from my house. When the border was drawn Ma wanted lake congomond in Southwick. By all rights of straight state lines being drawn, that lake should be in CT. That is the closest nice lake to my house. My sister lives there 10 minutes from my house. But we can’t launch our boat there?

  12. Carl Holm

    So i am retired and i can not take someone with me for safety reasons because i live alone. so your telling me
    I can not use my boat this year. what is the rule in this care

  13. Robert D Macdonald

    Ok so we just allowed thousands of people along with a shit load of morons lots without mask and you can’t allow anyone other then people living in your immediate household on your boat that you own. Sieg Heil !!!!

  14. Tom

    I just bought a new boat toady and all the damn MA boat registration offices are still closed. I’ve always had my boats registered right away this is the 1st time i’m debating going out w/out it (freshwater). This is ludicrous i’m not mailing all my documents for the boat out. The mail in my area is constantly losing stuff I do not trust them. Anyone know if they are enforcing registration laws right now on new boats? I’ve heard from a lot of marinas and people they are not because they know all the offices are still closed. Anyone hear anything about this ?

  15. Marvin

    Glad to see the governor is good with 500 protesters packed in the streets but I can’t launch my damn boat socially distanced from the ramp out of Cashmans because it’s registered in N.H. Mind you nothing in the guidelines actually says you can’t launch a boat registered from another state. Also the silver haired dickhead Environmental Police Officer that patrols the ramp at Salisbury and NBP is all to enthusiastic to enforce these boating GUIDELINES not LAWS to the max extent. Give them an inch and they take a mile.

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