Return to Boating Guidance

Updated 25th September 2020

Key notes which apply to all boating activities:

Participants should be aware that the ongoing updating of restrictions in Phase 3 does not mean that all facilities will open immediately. Owners and operators will require time to put plans in place to ensure the safety of participants, staff and volunteers. Please be respectful of local challenges, this is a difficult time for everyone so please be patient.

Many commercial facilities now have toilet, changing and showering facilities open for users and visitors. However, facilities such as those at some outdoor centres, clubs or run by volunteers, may struggle to meet the strict requirements for opening these facilities and visitors should check ahead to ensure they understand what is and is not available.

Please keep up to date with local measures and be prepared for changes with little notice.

Test and Protect
It is now a mandatory requirement that facility operators collect and keep for 21 days, contact details for visitors to their premises. It is also now a mandatory requirement for organisers of boating activity, such as musters or regattas, to collect and retain the contact details for all participants. You should be prepared to give your details when requested.

In addition, the Scottish Government have launched the Protect Scotland App to reduce the spread of coronavirus and avoid further lockdowns.

Organised Outdoor Activities

The option to apply a field of play and suspend physical distancing, only applies to organised outdoor activity where:

  • All participant details are recorded for test and protect
  • Co-ordinated and managed by a club, class association or recognised training centre
  • A maximum number of 30 people in a single bubble
  • Activity should be delivered within RYA guidance and ratios
  • People must not move into or out of a bubble once it has been established
  • Participants must not move between more than one bubble during the day

For our sport, outdoor activity includes Dinghy Sailing, Windsurfing, Personal Watercraft, Sailing Yachts and Powerboating. Training inside Motor Cruisers, Sailing Yachts or Powerboats would be classed as indoor training and physical distancing must be maintained and any mitigating measures put in place. Please refer to our Clubs and Training Centre Guidance.

Cleaning information
We recommend you carry and use hand sanitiser which should be at least 60% alcohol based. Regularly washing of hands with soap and water is still preferable where there are the facilities to do so.

Detergent wipes need to be appropriate for the surface they are being used on.

Cleaning products should conform to EN14476 standard or any detergent will need to be followed by chlorine releasing agent. However, be wary of cleaning requirements for specialist boating equipment such as life jackets and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Be mindful of our fragile marine environment, do not release bleach products into the water and dispose of used wipes, gloves and masks responsibly. In addition, it may be worthwhile looking at best practice for general cleaning of equipment via – The Green Blue.

Physical distancing requirements are still in place
People must stay a minimum distance of 2 metres apart when meeting others from outside their household, unless in an organised ‘field of play activity’ via a club or training centre.

Travel restrictions are now relaxed
Subject to any localised measures. However, participants travelling by car should only do so with members of their own household (or extended household). Car sharing with someone from another household is not advised.

People can meet in extended groups outside with physical distancing
Revised social gathering rules: 6 people from up to 2 households can meet socially. (Under 12s are not counted within this limit and 12-18s are not included in the household limit but should not be more than 6 at one time).

Please be aware of local measures that apply and always follow the Scottish Government Guidance.

For charter operators please follow the link to Sail Scotland

For Inland waterway users follow the link for further useful information. Scottish Canals

Equality & Inclusion locations – for example in hospitality or outdoors in a park or garden. Limited exemptions apply.

Households cannot meet indoors with one other household – this includes overnight stays.

Overnight aboard
It is only possible for one household or extended household to stay overnight aboard at the mooring or on the pontoon. Visitor berthing is permitted in marinas, moorings and anchorages.
Before departing check local restrictions with mooring owners/associations/harbour masters.
#Respect the destination. Plan ahead, be considerate on arrival and think of the local residents. Advice and guidance relating to local outbreaks or clusters of coronavirus cases.

Covid-19 is affecting everyone. But the impact of the pandemic is not being felt equally. Before the pandemic certain groups were less likely to participate in sport and physical activity. These groups are also the most at risk of worsening inequalities due to Covid-19:

  • Older people
  • Disabled people
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Women
  • People from deprived communities

It is more important than ever to consider people who need extra support to be active and we should consider this as people return to boating.


General RYA principles applying to all boating activity:

We will always follow Government advice – Scottish Government

  • The COVID-19 preventative measures are vital to protecting health and wellbeing and to minimising pressure on frontline services. We have a collective and individual role to play by following the Scottish Government guidelines.

We will, as a boating community, take a considerate and conservative approach

  • Considerate of others: be mindful of the potential impact that you could have on other water users and local communities. Do not place unnecessary extra strain on the RNLI and emergency services
  • Conservative of risk: help to minimise risk by taking an extra conservative approach to your boating


  • You may sail with up to one other household on a boat and with no more than six people in total as long as you can maintain physical distancing and stay above deck.
  • You may go below deck to use the toilet.
  • Participants are encouraged to use their own personal equipment or to have equipment allocated to them for exclusive use during a set period. This equipment should be cleaned appropriately before being allocated to another user.
  • Participants must only take to the water in conditions well within their ability and which assume a self-sufficient approach to their activity.
  • Competition can no