The First Ministers announcement on Thursday brought a little good news in relation to boating but was unfortunately short of what we had hoped might be forthcoming.

 

While much of the restrictions of Phase 1 remain in place, allowing those who have been shielding to begin to participate in outdoor activity is a welcome position which will undoubtedly bring more individuals back to boating.  Being able to meet with up to two other households offers opportunities for a greater mix of crew aboard and it is increasingly feasible for training activity to be delivered.  Most notably there is a concession on local informal competition which will please our racing oriented contingency.

 

As you might expect RYA Scotland has been working hard on your behalf in the background with the intention of securing the reduction of restrictions most affecting boating.  Much of our efforts were rewarded in Phase 1 when it was RYA Scotland and the Scottish Canoe Association who successfully secured the inclusion of water sports in the allowable forms of exercise.  Phase 2 has not been quite what we had hoped and I wanted to let you know what we have tried to secure albeit unsuccessfully.

 

In conjunction with a number of other sports and industry bodies we had asked that the current travel restrictions be eased to allow people to get to their boats.  This has been returned with a very simple ‘no’.  We are told that unrestricted travel is the single greatest risk of enabling the virus to jump from one community to another and is simply not up for debate until the medical and scientific advice support this easing.

 

We were fully expecting that Phase 2 would allow for clubs to open ‘ancillary facilities’ specifically from our perspective, toilets.  We clarified this understanding and had prepared our guidance to reflect this.  However, yesterday, this simply disappeared from the revised Routemap and subsequent clarification has confirmed that all club indoor facilities must remain closed until Phase 3.  Again the medical and scientific advice remains that the transmission of the virus is much more likely indoors compared to outdoors and consequently club indoor facilities must remain closed.

 

We had also hoped that there would be scope for bar provision outdoors (beer gardens) and galley operations for takeaway, both being important sources of income for a number of clubs and centres but the announcement yesterday clarified that these are not available for now.  The Scottish Government are looking into these options further and we will keep abreast of any developments for clubs.

 

RYA Scotland had specifically asked for consideration to be given to allowing overnight on board at anchor or on a mooring (which is not your own mooring). Despite providing considerable evidence that this would be a safe and limited extension for boating activity, we have been advised that overnight aboard is not permitted in Phase 2.  Anchoring briefly for a break during the day continues to be acceptable.

We now expect that overnight aboard will only become available in Phase 3.

We have not been given an explanation but it was always a possibility that the perceived risk to remote communities and the different treatment of boating compared to other activities might affect this decision and we believe this may be the position.

 

I hope this gives you some insight to the work we undertake on your behalf.  While we may not always be successful we do continue to represent our members and the wider boating community and I would like to note my personal thanks to the staff team and the volunteers who have been exceptionally busy these last three months.  None of this is possible without your continued membership or affiliation and I am deeply grateful for your continued support through what are difficult and challenging times for us all.

 

The guidance from RYA Scotland is available on our website and distils the raft of guidance documents from the Scottish Government and sportscotland into information relevant to clubs, training centres and individuals across Scotland’s boating community.  They have been approved by sportscotland on behalf of the Scottish Government and I hope they prove helpful.

 

If you have any further queries I encourage you to get in touch and I do hope we will see you on the water soon.

 

James

 

James Allan

Chief Executive Officer

Royal Yachting Association Scotland