Coronavirus: Marinas close quickly after capacity met on first weekend

FWC public boat ramp finder updated every 24 hours

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – “There is light at the end of this COVID tunnel, but it will be mean working differently and that’s why this is a new normal,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Saturday.

And part of that new normal was Miami-Dade police stationed at the entrance and exit of Crandon Marina for the entire day. They were ready to issue warnings to anyone not following rules for the first weekend of marina openings since COVID-19 closures.

Sunday morning saw extremely long lines of cars and boats waiting to get into the marina; It was the same story on Saturday. The huge morning rush of boaters prompted officials to close the marina only a few hours after opening at 6 a.m. when capacity was met.

“Just want to get back out again,” boater Chris Traad said Sunday. Trade was the first to arrive in line, around 1 a.m. Sunday. “Everybody’s been trapped inside, and you’re seeing everybody go out.”

(BOATERS: Check what’s open and closed. The FWC’s Florida Public Boat Ramp Finder is updated every 24-hours to include information regarding boat ramp open/closed status.)

It was a similar scene at Black Point Marina where people from across Miami-Dade and Broward Counties took advantage of the first weekend of people being able to come out to enjoy parks and marinas after almost a month of closures.

On Friday, the line of trucks waiting to get inside Black Point was so long, it stretched back for nearly a mile and capacity was reached too quickly.

"I haven’t gone out in a couple months since this thing started," Milton Tinoco of Cutler Bay said. "I called Bayfront yesterday and I called here, and they said people were in line at 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning."

Tinoco told Local 10 he was waiting to get back out on his boat for weeks and came out early to secure his spot on the water.

"I mean, it’s for everybody’s safety, so it doesn’t bother me at all. You know, it doesn’t matter that we have to wait. That’s what we have to deal with right now."

Eric Vargas spent the day on the water in his boat. He said even though there were long lines to get into the marina and people were turned away, he thought there wasn’t as much boat traffic as he’s used to seeing. “There was a lot of enforcement, but for the most part, there weren’t too many boats out.”

Boaters have to follow new social distancing rules, which including limiting each boat to only 10 passengers or less and only allowing one boat at a time to launch from the ramp. All recreational boats must be at least 50 feet apart while on the water.

Everyone is required to wear a facial covering, which can be either a mask or fabric that covers your mouth and nose, at all times while on shore and until the boat has left the marina.

While the waterways are back open, not everything else is. With non-essential businesses remaining closed, Gimenez said he’s working with groups that represent museum, restaurants, retail shops and even salons, in the hopes that they’ll be able to reopen when it is safe.

“The good news .... the number of hospitalizations has started to slow,” Gimenez said.


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