New Jersey

NJ Boat Captains Sail in ‘SOS' Parade Calling for Safe Return to Service

A parade of charter and head boats sailed along the Jersey Shore hoping to catch the attention of Gov. Phil Murphy

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Boat captains took to the water Saturday afternoon for a parade of charter and head boats, all to get the attention of New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.

Although marinas opened back up last month, boat companies have been closed for commercial use since the governor's stay-at-home order.

The "Sea of Solidarity" parade set sail around noon, with boats departing from the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina and moving up the Shrewsbury River to Sea Bright before making their return.

Led by Capt. Dan Schade of Classic Boat Rides, the parade's mission is to raise awareness "to the plight of the charter and head boat industry" - currently at a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic - and spur action from the New Jersey government to allow a return to operations under enhanced safety practices.

"[We're] not asking to do this before its safe, but we don't want to be put on the back burner. We want someone to put eyes on this industry," said Schade, the captain of the Mariner and Navesink Queen.

The Sea of Solidarity (SOS) parade is placing an emphasis on safety, Schade says. No members of the public were on board - crew only - and anyone watching from the shoreline was been encouraged to do so with proper protective gear and according to social distancing practices.

Schade is not sure what reopening the boat industry would look like, or when, but he is ready to take the necessary precautions to do so safely. He says his crews would be armed with abundant hand sanitizer and specific crew members would be in charge of ensuring passengers are wearing proper face coverings as well as adhering to social distancing, which would likely cut down on the number of people allowed on board. Schade suggested a limit on capacity could be calculated based on the square footage of the vessel.

"Every industry has their own application. This one is very unique, I would hope they would look at this industry separately and come up with guidelines geared towards this industry specifically," he said.

Schade expected 10-15 other charter and head boats to join in Saturday's parade.

Fore a list of what's open and closed up and down the shore, click here.

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