Twin Cities Business magazine featured boating in a recent issue, offering a glimpse into how some Minnesota marine businesses are operating now that Gov. Tim Walz lifted some restrictions on outdoor recreation, including boating and golfing.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources issued guidelines for boating responsibly and staying socially distant.
Safety is as major concern for Your Boat Club co-owner Michael Jellish, whose company sells annual rental memberships. “People need to do it responsibly,” Jellish told the magazine. “We have a complete plan in place to make sure that we're controlling traffic on and off the docks and at our lots.”
Beyond managing traffic to ensure proper distancing at the marina, Jellish said the company has developed sterilization methods and a contingency plan to do things in a safe way.
“At the same time, we need our customers' help, too; they have to do their job,” Jellish said. “I can't follow them around on the lake. They need to take this seriously and do it correctly, but they need to be able to go out there and have some fun with their family.”
The approach by Minnesota helps dealers move inventory and create cash flow during a challenging time for retailers in a cyclical industry, said Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.
Gruhn, who is also a member of the DNR’s Minnesota Outdoor Recreation Task Force, told the magazine that the season is shaping up to be busier for many dealers, rather than slower, due to covid-19 distancing rules.
“If you take a look at Lake Minnetonka, it's way busier out there than it has been historically in the middle of April, of all things,” Gruhn said. “We have a dealer, for example, in Florida, who had broken all-time records two weekends in a row for the amount of fuel that he sold at his marina and for the amount of boats that he launched in a single day.”
As long as boaters are careful, it’s a great activity to get families outdoors.
“The big thing for us is ensuring that our members know how to communicate how to do this safely right now,” said MRAA government relations manager Adam Fortier-Brown, “because it's not just normal anymore when you're going out to the boat ramp.”