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Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office urges safe boating during Fourth of July weekend

Boaters must follow social distancing guidelines on the water, or face fines
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Posted at 1:19 PM, Jul 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-02 18:01:41-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office is urging people to obey the rules of the water this Fourth of July weekend.

"There is a lot of confusion going around the state," said Lt. Vince Spierto with PBSO's Marine Unit.

Under an emergency order to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, all public, municipal, and private beaches in Palm Beach County will be closed from 12:01 a.m. Friday until 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

However, marines, boat docks, and boat ramps will remain open, and boating and water activities will still be allowed with restrictions.

"What we need to worry about on the water is the social distancing between vessels," said Lt. Spierto.

Under the current county guidelines, all watercraft must be at least 50 feet apart from one another. That includes boats, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards.

In addition, flotillas are not allowed, meaning you can't tie boats and other watercraft together.

"No tying up to each other vessels," said Lt. Spierto. "We don't want to see you tying off big rafts that have a bunch of people. We don't want kayaks coming up to the boat."

There are also limits on how many people you can have on boats:

  • Boats 25 feet or less: 4 adult passengers maximum, plus children 17 and under. Maximum of 6 people on the boat
  • Boats 26 feet - 36 feet: 6 adult passengers maximum, plus children 17 and under. Maximum of 8 people on the boat
  • Boats 37 feet - 60 feet: 8 adult passengers maximum, plus children 17 and under. Maximum of 10 people on the boat
  • Boats over 60 feet: 10 passengers maximum, not including crew members

"We're trying to keep everyone apart as much as we can," said Lt. Spierto. "We're on your side. We want you to have a great time. We want you to obey all the rules though."

The sheriff's office said anyone who violates the social distancing rules on the water could face fines, and in the most serious cases, an arrest and the seizure of your watercraft.

To see to a full list of boating rules in Palm Beach County, click here.