Freedom Boat Club’s Washington, D.C. location is the first membership-based club in the Maryland-D.C. area to allow its boaters back on the water, with modified procedures that could signal how boating businesses will be run in the COVID-19 era.
While recreational boating is still banned in Maryland and boat clubs there are closed, D.C. allows recreational boating as long as social distancing rules are followed, similar to Virginia. Freedom Boat Club appealed to D.C. Harbor Patrol with a “comprehensive approach” to complying with the District’s restrictions for its location at The Yards Marina.
In an email to Freedom Boat Club, D.C. Harbor Patrol’s Sgt. Adam Snapko notes that under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s directives, “Only family members from the same household can be together in a vessel.”
Club President JoAnna Goldberg tells Bay Bulletin that their approved plan allows only one group on the dock at a time with six or less people on board and all of them must be members of the same immediate family.
The four boats the club keeps in D.C. for member use, and only one can be reserved per day to allow for proper disinfecting of the boat before and after guests use it. Deck staff wear gloves and masks, and members must sigh a waiver when they reserve a boat.
Larry Goldberg, who runs Freedom Boat Club with daughter JoAnna, says members were thrilled to learn the boat club is open since it was announced Saturday, and so far, nearly every boat has been booked every day. Since members of Freedom Boat Club Annapolis have access to the D.C. location, the Goldbergs are seeing Maryland members coming to use the D.C. boats while Maryland boating remains closed.
Larry Goldberg says Freedom Boat Club is “very comfortable with the safety steps” it’s taking. “It allows people to enjoy the water again, thank God,” he tells us.
-Meg Walburn Viviano