UMass Medical Students Form Socially-Distant "Yacht Club"

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — New Englanders have been buying more kayaks and canoes than usual, as people search for new ways to socially-distance while enjoying the summer sun.

Michael Duffield, owner of Newbury Kayak and Canoe on the North Shore, said sales have been skyrocketing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I would say it's probably doubled over last year," said Duffield. "Recreational smaller boats have completely sold out... anything 12 feet or less, we've been swept clean. Fishing kayaks are going, going, going."

It's a similar story at the EMS Kayak Rental Shop on Lake Pearl in Wrentham, where business has been booming this summer, even mid-week.

"During the weekdays, we didn't typically have a lot of traffic," said Melina Cruz of the EMS Kayak Shop. "Now that everyone is out of work, we're seeing a lot more traffic during the week."

According to Jacob Gitlin, a student at UMass Medical School, he and some of his friends bought kayaks after their final exams in May and went out to Lake Quinsigamond for a socially-distant outdoor celebration.

"You're around people and can still talk and socialize, but you're not within that 6 feet, or super-close to each other," Gitlin told WBZ NewsRadio. "You're in moving air, outside being active, enjoying the weather."

Gitlin said kayaking together quickly became the group's favorite way of hanging out while keeping their distance during the pandemic.

"[We can] be near each other, but not be on top of each other," he said. "We even made stickers and put them on our water bottles, it made us feel like we're in a yacht club!"

WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe reports:

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(Photo: Jacob Gitlin)

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