LONG POIN -- An annual gathering that usually draws thousands of people to the shores of Lake Erie had a much smaller crowd this year.

The Pottahawk Boat Party went ahead Sunday despite concerns from provincial police and health officials.

“It used to be wild,” said Dave Langhorn, who has now gone to the party 10 times. “It was like a rave on the water with 8,000 people.”

As of Sunday afternoon, around 700 vessels were out in the water, far less than the 2,400 in previous years.

Police attributed the fewer partiers to COVID-19 concerns.

“It’s not worth taking a chance,” said Cnst. Ed Sanchuck of the Norfolk County OPP. “It’s not worth putting your safety in jeopardy. It’s not worth being charged.”

Tara Parker, who has now been to the party three times, has face masks, hand sanitizer, and wipes on board.

“We’re not going to be sharing anything,” said four-time party-goer Morgan Leblanc. “We’re going to be staying with our boat most of the time.”

OPP were out patrolling the water to ensure physical distancing measures were followed.

As of the afternoon, no tickets were handed out.

“We’re asking people to dock their vessels or anchor their vessels two metres apart,” said Sanchuck. “Every year at Pottahawk we have assaults, sexual assaults, intoxicated people, and impaired boaters.”

OPP are reminding boaters not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.