POLK CITY, Iowa — Big Creek Marina is gearing up for what might be its busiest season yet, as many find boating a way to enjoy the summer while also social distancing.
“This season already we’ve seen a lot of fishermen out here. On those really nice days the whole boat ramps, the parking lot, everything has just been completely packed, Manager at Big Creek Marina, Brittany Crawford, said.
The Marina said it has made a few changes to ensure everyone has a fun yet safe experience out on the lake.
“We’re keeping our pontoons to groups of 10 or less. The beach is open currently, the playground is still closed just for COVID, so kids aren’t touching,” Crawford said. “The main bathrooms that are around the Marina are going to be open. And we are cleaning and sanitizing our boats after every rental and after they go out.”
Crawford said staff will now wear gloves and masks and spend a couple hours between each rental making sure boats are properly cleaned with FDA approved products.
The Marina has also put sneeze guards in place inside their buildings to protect staff. They’re only allowing four people inside the building at once and they’re asking that only one person from each party come to fill out paperwork for rentals.
Children are not allowed on the playgrounds, or inside of the boat rental building. Kids can be on boats, rentals, and privately-owned crafts. The beach is open but does have social distancing restrictions.
Iowa DNR said just like any other year, they will be out on the water enforcing boating laws and these additional guidelines.
“Our Conservation Officers are always on the water during this summer because Memorial weekend is the start of the boating season,” Boating Law Administrator, Susan Stocker said. “So it’s really about taking the items that the governor has implemented for social distancing and applying them at our state parks and applying them out on the water.”
Friday is the last day of Boat Safety Week in Iowa. The DNR is urging Iowans to wear life jackets and no drinking if you’re driving a boat.
According to the Iowa DNR there were seven boating related fatalities and over 60 boating while intoxicated arrests in the state last year.
“We have challenges that people use the excuse that, ‘I’m a really good swimmer. I’ve been on the boat all along, you know my entire life.’ But similar to why we wear a seatbelt when we’re in a car, you never know when an accident might happen,” Stocker said.
Saylorville and Lake Red Rock playgrounds, beaches, and group shelters are still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. They plan on reopening campgrounds on June 1st.