Alabama marine police: social distancing applies on the water too


Alabama’s in-shore island beaches were crowded Saturday with boats (photo/Christoper Harress


As Alabamians are asked to keep their distance from one another, more are setting out on boats to pass the time.

But social distancing is necessary on the water too, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is reminding residents. On March 19, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey closed beaches in the state and beginning Saturday, all non-work gatherings of 10 or more where it is not possible to keep six feet of distance between people are banned in Alabama.

“Marine Patrol Division Troopers have seen numbers spike during the past few days with COVID-19 closures. These Troopers are patrolling waterways daily,” the agency said in a press release issued Sunday.

ALEA is asking boaters to have a designated driver if there’s drinking aboard, familiarize themselves with boating rules, check safety equipment before taking off, and to not overload boats with passengers.

Troopers with ALEA’s Marine Patrol remind boaters of social distancing, as well as water safety:

  • The designated driver practice works just as well on the water as it does on the road. If boaters insist on having alcohol on board, make sure there is a designated driver.
  • Be courteous and cautious.
  • Follow boating rules. Know what to do in a head-to-head meeting and know the right-of-way rules and regulations.
  • Make sure life jackets are accessible, in good condition, sized for the intended individual and U.S. Coast Guard-approved. There must be one personal flotation device (PFD) on board for each person on the boat that is sized and intended for that individual. Children younger than the age of 8 must wear PFDs.
  • When boating at night, make sure the required navigation lights are on and in good working order. Operate at slower speeds and don’t venture into unfamiliar territory.
  • Give other boaters plenty of room. Don’t operate too closely to private docks or the shoreline, and give skiers and swimmers a wide berth.
  • Never overload a vessel. Follow the capacity plate guidelines.
  • Make it a habit to check the vessel’s safety equipment before using the vessel — every time.