Reflections on the season that nearly wasn’t

By Randy Randall
Here we are in October already during the last boating weekend of the summer that nearly wasn’t. Our marina season has been dominated by sunny weather, good fishing and COVID-19. As the old saying goes, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” Who knew marinas and boatyards would fill up and boat sales would go through the roof? We were fortunate when the governor approved recreational boating and fishing as legitimate outdoor activities. Our office phone rang off the hook, and the wait list grew exponentially.

Early in the summer the state came out with COVID-19 guidelines for marinas and boatyards, which we all tried to implement one way or the other. Here at Marston’s things were a little easier because we are entirely outdoors and we don’t have a ship’s store, restaurant or boat shop. We put up new signage, wore our masks and sanitized surfaces. Jeremy and Matt were scrupulous about wearing their masks in our small office and on the fuel dock. They began by wiping off credit cards and letting the customer handle the gas nozzle.

Later in the summer The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that surface transmission of the virus outdoors was fairly low, so we backed off wiping the gangwalk railings and doorknobs. A few customers were conscientious about wearing masks, but most did not. Again, the outdoor environment probably minimized any risk. We did have one couple that had contracted the virus back in March. So far that has been the only incident we’re aware of.

Many of the marinas and boatyards met bi-weekly with Maine Marine Trades via Zoom to discuss the latest regulations and share ideas for combating the virus. An unforeseen problem for some marinas was boats coming from the south. Many yachts made their way to Maine either to visit or to remain for the summer. A frequent question was when their quarantine should begin. The official answer was when the boats crossed the Maine border. We had one boat come from Florida. They came up the river, picked up a mooring and came ashore to a waiting car. He said “Hi, nice to be here. We’ll see you in two weeks.”

Other marinas tried to figure out who was allowed to come ashore. Could visiting yachts tie up to docks? How would the people on board receive groceries, or dump waste or do their laundry? To their credit, I don’t think there have been any outbreaks reported from any of Maine’s many marine-related industries.

Here on the Saco River we’re breathing a little easier having made it through a very unconventional summer. Now we begin to disassemble our docks and moorings and haul everything on shore. It takes us two to three weeks before we park the forklift and lock the office door for good. As always, we are grateful for every customer who spent the summer of 2020 with us, and we are thankful no one became ill while boating on the river and the bay. Fair winds to all.

Randy Randall
Saco, Maine