‘Unprecedented’ Boat Traffic Off Maine’s Coast Creates COVID-19 Challenge

By Eric Russell.

While some potential out-of-state visitors have likely been deterred by Maine’s two-week quarantine or negative testing requirements, one area hasn’t seen any slowdown: the open water.

Harbormasters, marine patrol officials and boat dealers all agree that 2020 has been the busiest season in recent memory in coves, bays, inlets and waters around coastal islands from Kittery to Bar Harbor and beyond.

“The amount of boating or water-related activity, as well as the boat market, is unprecedented,” said Sgt. Matt Sinclair with the Maine Marine Patrol.

Visitors and Maine residents alike no doubt view boating as a safe outdoor activity during a pandemic that has disrupted their lives in countless ways. Mark Latti, spokesman for Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, said the increased interest in boating mirrors an increase in other recreational activities, such as hunting, fishing and ATV-ing. Maine golf courses, too, are seeing record business in some cases.

But the swell of boat traffic has brought with it some challenges, including reports of large numbers of boats “rafting up,” and other gatherings at private islands or islands with public access – possibly in violation of the governor’s executive orders designed to limit COVID-19 transmission.

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