(BPT) - Looking to get away this summer while social distancing? With annual traditions such as camps and sporting events cancelled, the best way to seek relief and recharge with your loved ones may be to “Get On Board” for a summer on the water. Recent data suggests that interest in fishing and boating has grown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent Harris poll, 1 in 5 Americans said they’re more likely to try these activities than they were prior to the pandemic. And among parents, the statistic is 1 in 4.

Numerous marine dealers across the country are reporting strong spring sales with consumers eager to get on the water, and Discover Boating, the nation’s consumer boating resource, is seeing record growth in consumer web traffic and boat searches, signifying a high demand for close-to-home recreation.

With boating restrictions lifting nationwide and the COVID-19 response dictating where and how far people can travel, boating and fishing are ideal activities to de-stress and unwind, while naturally allowing you to abide by social distancing guidelines.

“The outdoors is a welcome remedy to stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Sue Varma, a nationally recognized psychiatrist. “Being in nature supports each of the four ‘M’s of mental health: mindfulness, mastery, meaningful engagement and movement. In particular, being on the water encourages mindfulness by helping you get away from distractions, it supports mastery by teaching you a new skill, it provides meaningful engagement through quality time with others you may be quarantining with, and it promotes physical movement by getting you outside without requiring a strenuous workout. From a psychiatrist’s perspective, it’s a smart way to follow social distancing guidelines while prioritizing your health and wellness.”

There are several easy ways to go boating or fishing, whether you’re ready to buy a boat, test the waters aboard different vessels, or seek solace fishing on water or ashore. Here are tips from Discover Boating to help you find your way to the water this summer.

Purchase your dream boat. Chart your own course to boat ownership by visiting DiscoverBoating.com, where you'll find a boat finder and loan calculator tool to help determine your budget and identify the different types of boats that fit your lifestyle and interests. The site can connect you with manufacturers whose boats best fit your needs and wants, plus learn about new boat shopping processes during COVID-19.

Join a boat club. Find a boat club near you to access a variety of boats. You’ll pay a monthly fee and be able book your time on the water online. Most boat clubs take care of docking, cleaning, maintenance, and boat training courses, which all follow new CDC and social distancing guidelines.

Rent a boat. Rental options are available on most waterways and provide hourly, daily or weekly access to a variety of boat types. Rental outfitters give tutorials on operating a boat, provide safety instruction and offer suggestions on destinations.

Share a boat. Another rental option is peer-to-peer boat rentals. You can search by location or type of boat. Peer-to-peer rental services have tens of thousands of different boats available across the nation. You simply connect with the owner, find out what sort of gear is aboard the boat and included in the rental, and other details, and then hit the water. Most arrangements for boat sharing are made on an app or via computer, minimizing personal contact and eliminating the need to enter an office. You can also inquire with the owners about their boat cleaning and sharing procedures to ensure a healthy transaction.

Go fish. There are thousands of bodies of water where you can cast a line. TakeMeFishing.org is an all-in-one resource to help anyone get started fishing in minutes. Features on the site include how-to guides, an interactive map of places to fish near you, and water access updates to help you fish safely while social distancing. You can even purchase your fishing license on the site.

Whether you’re ready to purchase a boat or simply test the waters this summer, all marine businesses have new standard operating procedures following CDC guidelines to ensure the well-being of boaters and their staff. This includes personal protective equipment, socially distant classroom and on-water training, and enhanced sanitation protocol of boats.

Visit DiscoverBoating.com for a host of resources and tips for getting on the water, boat shopping, safe practices amid the pandemic, public access maps and more. Planning to “Get On Board” this summer? Use the social media hashtag #TheWaterIsOpen to share your boating and fishing moments.

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