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View Full Version : Is a dive flag/float any safer than a good ear?



WaScubaDude
09-23-2007, 23:09
The only time I dove with a float and flag, a boat came along to investigate. We anchored the flag in about 25' of water and just started descending a bit deeper when I heard the whirrr of an out board. I signaled my buddy to listen and we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it. I swam toward shore and up to the surface, still close enough to shout at the idiots. They said they were just checking things out. I told them to stay well away as the flag means divers are below! I still shake my head, and use my ears not a flag. Good idea or bad?

DivingsInMyBlood
09-23-2007, 23:31
a dive float and flag are a great idea its just that theres a whole whack of fools out there who dont even know what they are and they shouldnt be allowed to drive a boat untill they understand what they are.

somewhereinla
09-24-2007, 02:01
I agree, the protect you. I you dive and a boat hit you, the boat driver is liable, if you don't have a flag/float, the driver is not liable.

Krakenn
09-24-2007, 06:31
You have never seen the keel of a yatch doing 20 knots before I take it?

Kraks

awap
09-24-2007, 07:16
Based on the legal requirements and the particular conditions of the dive, I use a dive flag as appropriate. I don't like towing it if I don't have to so I often tie it off fairly close to shore, where boats are less likely to come investigate, and retrieve it at the end of the dive.

Kingpatzer
09-24-2007, 07:45
While there are plenty of morons out there, having a dive flag does offer some protection, and is in general a good idea.

If a boat gets too close to your flag and you get the registration number off of it, local law enforcement will be willing to have a talk with the boat owner. If you have multiple witnesses, that alone might be enough for a fine. My LDS instructors have several stories of guys they got fined for violating the dive flag space of various classes.

cgvmer
09-24-2007, 08:00
for those underwater photographers, take snapshot of the boat near your dive flag so the boat driver can get a nice fine.

scubasavvy
09-24-2007, 08:37
I think if you're doing a shore dive or your own boat dives (not with a charter) they are crucial. Better to be safe than sorry.

PlatypusMan
09-24-2007, 09:01
...we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it. I swam toward shore and up to the surface, still close enough to shout at the idiots. They said they were just checking things out.

Boater education should have covered something like this; the fact that so many boaters seem to not understand what a dive flag means and what the regulations are that cover it speaks to a lack of effort on both sides of the fence (SCUBA and boating) to educate their community. Back in the day, when I did my basic open water in Florida, the instructor pointed out that it was important even with the flag to use one's ears and eyes when ascending-- since boaters had no trouble running over full-grown manatees in the state, what made us think they would have any trouble running over full-grown divers?

For what it's worth, MAD magazine did a send up several years ago on the sport of SCUBA, where they pointed out that when using a dive flag a prudent and observant diver always knew where it was safe to surface-- namely, any place the flag wasn't -- while illustrating all sorts of boaters using the flag as a target. Stories here and elsewhere indicate that this is in fact now true as opposed to merely humorous. Sad.

Steve Scuba
09-24-2007, 09:22
All these years I thought that Van Halen had educated everyone on the meaning of this flag, or at least what it says...

Kidding aside, PlatypusMan has an excellent point, more education is needed, and it has to flow from both communities.

Capt Hook
09-24-2007, 09:25
Boating Safety courses from the United States Power Squadron DO cover dive flags. Problem is not many states require boaters to take a course!

WaScubaDude
09-24-2007, 11:47
...we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it. I swam toward shore and up to the surface, still close enough to shout at the idiots. They said they were just checking things out.

Boater education should have covered something like this; the fact that so many boaters seem to not understand what a dive flag means and what the regulations are that cover it speaks to a lack of effort on both sides of the fence (SCUBA and boating) to educate their community. Back in the day, when I did my basic open water in Florida, the instructor pointed out that it was important even with the flag to use one's ears and eyes when ascending-- since boaters had no trouble running over full-grown manatees in the state, what made us think they would have any trouble running over full-grown divers?

For what it's worth, MAD magazine did a send up several years ago on the sport of SCUBA, where they pointed out that when using a dive flag a prudent and observant diver always knew where it was safe to surface-- namely, any place the flag wasn't -- while illustrating all sorts of boaters using the flag as a target. Stories here and elsewhere indicate that this is in fact now true as opposed to merely humorous. Sad.

I am sure I would have a chuckle looking at that MAD magazine.

finflippers
09-24-2007, 12:36
I think having to display a divers down flag is a bad idea. To many idiots out there that has no respect or just curious to what it is and don't even get me started on the jetskiers that thinks it is a turnaround marker for their races.

I would like to see the laws changed to where the diver only displays a SMB indicating that a diver is down once he is finished with his safety stop. That would still mark a clear area for the diver but not have it up long enough to attract attention.

Tod
09-24-2007, 12:48
I work for our local County government and I was talking with a Sheriff Deputy I know (Phil) about his current job patroling our local lakes. Several of the deputies are divers and Phil was telling me about one particular dive he and another deputy were doing at one of our lakes.

According to Phil, they were both under water and the other deputy was towing their dive flag (the kind that have a small foam float around their pole). While they were down there, they heard a speed boat coming and then Phil said "all of the sudden the other deputy was gone!" He turned to see the other deputy was being towed away and was caught on the line holding the flag as he was frantically trying to grab his knife to cut the line.

Apparently, the people in the speed boat saw the flag and decided to try and steal it - not knowing there was a sheriff deputy attached to the other end of the line! The deputy got free of the line and by the time he and Phil made it back up to the surface the other boat was gone.

I just shook my head thinking about all the things they (the two Sheriffs) should have done differently. But yes, some people (those in the speedboat) are just idiots sometimes. It's too bad they were unable to locate them.

finflippers
09-24-2007, 13:09
I spend 5 minutes at my safety stop, so unless they are violating my flag space after my stop is over they are usually long gone before I get up.

subsur
09-24-2007, 16:17
it's illegal to dive around here without a dive flag, so it's not a question of whether to take it or now. in fact, a town quite popular among divers recently adopted a law stating that every diver must have a dive flag. i agree with ther saying that looking up and using ears is a great idea.

Kingpatzer
09-24-2007, 19:17
it's illegal to dive around here without a dive flag, so it's not a question of whether to take it or now. in fact, a town quite popular among divers recently adopted a law stating that every diver must have a dive flag. i agree with ther saying that looking up and using ears is a great idea.

A flag for each diver is a bad idea simple due to line management issues for the divers.

Doing an object search with both divers holding flags could be a nightmare.

There should be some upper limit, one flag, for example, should not indicate 1,000 divers in a lake. But 1 each is silly.

Krakenn
09-24-2007, 20:06
I honestly beleive that everyone should have a Dive flag onboard the boat at the very leat. If you are diving a trafficable channel then you should have a towable float. In Western Australia if you dive at night you are required to have a flag with a orange flashing strobe attached.

Hows about this event though for low - About four months ago a divers boat drifted from his dive spot off of Mandurah. When they pop up no boat they then spend 30 hours in the water only to be saved by a safety sausage and water rescue. When their boat is recovered someone has ransacked the boat their wallets all the boat equipment and left it to float.

Sad story but interesting considering how we often dive and leave our boat unattended for up to 80 mins underwater.

Kraks

crpntr133
09-24-2007, 20:18
I thought that it was a universal law that if you had divers down from a boat you had to fly the flag?
I know that doesn't mean much since I just did a dive in Lake Huron. On our last dive of the day the captain told us that it would be noisy because of an oncoming freighter. When we got back up the freighter was pretty darn close. It seems that the captain had to get on the radio and inform the captain that he had divers down and that he was tied to the buoy and couldn't move.
I guess it happens all the time to them.

Krakenn
09-24-2007, 20:33
Yes it is international convention and Australian Law that the clearance is a minimum of 50m from a Dive flag, mate but dont go using that red one you guys have if your in Australia you will need to use the International Code Flag the Alpha which is Blue and White.

Kraks

quasimoto
09-24-2007, 20:37
Most boats that I have seen fly both just in case. Especially in open water areas that it isn't just local traffic. Seems that most of the trouble is with local yoyo's not knowing what is going on.

Personally I like a float and flag. A good ear doesn't hurt.

WaScubaDude
09-25-2007, 01:36
I thought that it was a universal law that if you had divers down from a boat you had to fly the flag?
I know that doesn't mean much since I just did a dive in Lake Huron. On our last dive of the day the captain told us that it would be noisy because of an oncoming freighter. When we got back up the freighter was pretty darn close. It seems that the captain had to get on the radio and inform the captain that he had divers down and that he was tied to the buoy and couldn't move.
I guess it happens all the time to them.

The real laws divers need to obey, are laws of physics!

CrzyJay456
09-30-2007, 19:59
i heard of a diver having his flag stolen... tied it off, and came back to it, it was gone, just rope left there.

scuba Widow
09-30-2007, 20:01
According to the stories that finflippers has told me a good ear is better inthis area because boaters like to investigate his dive flag.

CrzyJay456
09-30-2007, 20:37
the problem with the good ear is that you cant pinpoint the direction it comes from, the sound just seems to be all over when you're underwater.

scuba Widow
09-30-2007, 20:42
That maybe true...but finflippers is real good at things like that...and he would never go diving without his flag anyways. Always Safety First.

Kidder
09-30-2007, 20:51
The only time I dove with a float and flag, a boat came along to investigate. We anchored the flag in about 25' of water and just started descending a bit deeper when I heard the whirrr of an out board. I signaled my buddy to listen and we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it. I swam toward shore and up to the surface, still close enough to shout at the idiots. They said they were just checking things out. I told them to stay well away as the flag means divers are below! I still shake my head, and use my ears not a flag. Good idea or bad?

My buddy and wife had this happen to them too. In fact it kinda worries me every time we take a float. You see people who have no idea what it is (they probably shouldn't be on the water) and they slow down pull in nice a close and take a look. Its crazy.:smiley29:

ReefHound
09-30-2007, 21:03
According to Phil, they were both under water and the other deputy was towing their dive flag (the kind that have a small foam float around their pole). While they were down there, they heard a speed boat coming and then Phil said "all of the sudden the other deputy was gone!" He turned to see the other deputy was being towed away and was caught on the line holding the flag as he was frantically trying to grab his knife to cut the line.

That's why you *never* clip off to yourself when towing a flag.

SteveC
09-30-2007, 21:07
There is no doubt that a dive flag will draw attention to you, and a lot of boaters will come and investigate. I do use one from time to time, but I stay away from it and never tie myself to it. It can be a good ideal to mark a general area, but thats about it. If your boat diving, come up near your boat, if your shore diving, come up near the shore, if you have to come up in open water, inflate your SMB. And look and listen. When you do surface, make your self visible.

Tod
09-30-2007, 21:31
That's why you *never* clip off to yourself when towing a flag.

I don't think the deputy was "clipped" to the flag, I believe when the line got pulled, he was inadertantly caught in the line. But it's a good point.

mdwestgrl
09-30-2007, 21:32
I would say that a flag and float are a good idea even though we have had many idiots come along and as happened to you, investigate what it is etc. Some people are so stupid, I agree with the others that people shouldn't be allowed to drive a boat until they know what the different things in the water mean/stand for etc. We even had one time this summer while diving with a float that a boat went over the top of us while DRAGGING their anchor!!! The anchor went right by me bouncing off of the rocks! We were very lucky my husband saw it! Talk about a close call!:smiley21:

WaScubaDude
09-30-2007, 21:35
I would say that a flag and float are a good idea even though we have had many idiots come along and as happened to you, investigate what it is etc. Some people are so stupid, I agree with the others that people shouldn't be allowed to drive a boat until they know what the different things in the water mean/stand for etc. We even had one time this summer while diving with a float that a boat went over the top of us while DRAGGING their anchor!!! The anchor went right by me bouncing off of the rocks! We were very lucky my husband saw it! Talk about a close call!:smiley21:

So far I am still leaning toward "no flag"

finflippers
09-30-2007, 21:39
Last week when I went diving I anchored the boat on one end of the dive site and let the flag drift to the other end of the dive site while hooked to the boat, that way the whole area was marked off and if someone did mess with my flag it was hooked to the boat and not in my hand. I also made sure to come back up my anchor line to my boat. If a boat would of came in that area the rope would of got in their prop

Thankfully the boating season is mainly over here so I won't have to worry about them as much now.

SteveC
09-30-2007, 21:51
Mdwestgrl, what lake did this happen at?

mdwestgrl
10-01-2007, 19:56
Mdwestgrl, what lake did this happen at?


At Table Rock Lake in Missouri...

tbuckalew
10-01-2007, 22:30
A flag should be used - even though there are idiots out there that don't know what it is, doesn't mean it should not be used.

A couple of notes here. First, some locals require it by law. Some laws involving dive flags require you to surface within 100' or so of the flag as well. You should always be aware of your local laws involving dive flags. Always know the laws, most do not require you to tow a flag, only to display a flag and surface near it. Some people like to tow their flag (I'd rather not). If require to tow, a zip tie that can easily be broken by force if the line is snagged by a boat would add a safety factor.

The second point goes back to the look and listen thought mentioned several times. Yes, sound travels faster in water than air (and yes, you can tell the direction if you practice a bit - sit still and listen, turn, repeat, the loudest sound you hear will be the direction it is coming from - directly behind you as the back of your skull vibrates in the water). Still, from way back in OW comes the mantra, look up, reach up, come up, and circle. You look up to see what is above you, you reach up to raise your inflator to control your ascent, you come up and circle as you do to look and see if there are any obstacles in your path or that may be coming towards you (those idiots that don't know what they are doing).

Recovery Guy
10-02-2007, 06:30
Here is a dive flag in action at Broken Bow lake Ok 2007. During that day of diving the dive flag attracted one fishing boat (within 20ft of flag) and two jetskiers that thought it was a some kind of ??. We watched this happen during our surface interval. Using a dive flag while diving is a good idea and BTW its the Law around here. Its obvious that boaters dont have a clue what a dive flag means so there should be more effort put towards boaters education. I told the local sherrif and park ranger about this problem and they said " Show us a boat that breaks this law and we will make an example out of them :anim_kill: so others will know"

Thanks WaScubaDude for this great topic:smiley32:

RG

WaScubaDude
10-02-2007, 09:53
Here is a dive flag in action at Broken Bow lake Ok 2007. During that day of diving the dive flag attracted one fishing boat (within 20ft of flag) and two jetskiers that thought it was a some kind of ??. We watched this happen during our surface interval. Using a dive flag while diving is a good idea and BTW its the Law around here. Its obvious that boaters dont have a clue what a dive flag means so there should be more effort put towards boaters education. I told the local sherrif and park ranger about this problem and they said " Show us a boat that breaks this law and we will make an example out of them :anim_kill: so others will know"

Thanks WaScubaDude for this great topic:smiley32:

RG

Your story illustrates my real difficulty with flags. A diver is supposed to carry one to protect from getting run over by water craft, yet carrying the flag actually increases the likely hood of this happening. I am more certain now that I will be a scoff-law in this case. Rather have a ticket and keep my head on my shoulders.

datamunk
10-03-2007, 22:41
yea, people arent very smart... workin dry DM on boats you often see other boats comin way to close to flags and have to push em off... its ridiculous how easy it is to own and drive a boat around with ur head stuck up your.. well, you know.

WaScubaDude
11-04-2007, 22:30
yea, people arent very smart... workin dry DM on boats you often see other boats comin way to close to flags and have to push em off... its ridiculous how easy it is to own and drive a boat around with ur head stuck up your.. well, you know.

On another thread a diver shares being tangled in a dive flag line caught on an outdrive and "just" escaping in time. No dive flag for me. Maybe shoot the DSMB just prior to surfacing.

bubble-head
11-14-2007, 19:23
I always tow a flag when I'm shore diving. If possible, I'll tie it off to a wreck to avoid having to swim around with it. Knock on wood, I've not had anyone mess with it but you never know.

RoadRacer1978
11-14-2007, 19:31
The dive flag to me is a two edged sword. Some moron boaters will come close to see what the thing is and it may attract some boats. On the other hand for anyone who knows what the thing it, they will likely stay far away. I don not see why states do not require some type of licensing to operate a boat. You are required to take and pass a test before driving a car, riding a motorcycle, drive a big truck, fly an airplane. So why are boats exempt? If at the minimum you were required to take and pass a written test, then maybe you might understand the dive flag law and as a boater know to stay away. You can also be cited while operating a boat, such as registration, no wake zone, drunk driving. So if you can receive a citation for operating one incorrectly why isn't there a requirement for licensing as well. It could be as simple as taking the test and getting an endorsement on you current license, just like a motorcycle endorsement. My 0.02 anyways.

wheelman
11-14-2007, 19:38
I'm not sure about all states... but in AR, OK and MO use a float/flag to avoid any legal issues if something should happen. I agree with a license for recreational boating.

MSilvia
11-15-2007, 09:42
I signaled my buddy to listen and we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it.
Problem solved. :smiley2:
http://thedecostop.com/matt/Mine.jpg

MSilvia
11-15-2007, 15:48
No replies? C'mon... that's funny stuff right there.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
11-15-2007, 15:55
I signaled my buddy to listen and we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it.
Problem solved. :smiley2:
http://thedecostop.com/matt/Mine.jpg


:smilie39::smilie39::smilie39:

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
11-15-2007, 15:56
I'm still laughing. Too funny.

Navy OnStar
11-15-2007, 20:15
I signaled my buddy to listen and we watched the hull and prop of a small boat, maybe 20 feet at most, pull up next to our bouy and they actualy pulled on it.
Problem solved. :smiley2:
http://thedecostop.com/matt/Mine.jpg
Bravo!:smilie39::smilie39::smilie39: Where can I get one?

navyhmc
11-16-2007, 02:19
I have found that especially in KS, MO, OK, AR and TX the boaters are clueless as to what the dive flag or the alpha re for. I have had my flag used as a racing bouy, an anchorage-not a good on though, a curiosity, a trot line and apparently something that will look good on a wall. All of these have good(?) stories attached. The best story involved the boat cutting corners around the flag and my missing a fish with a speargun :icon_smile_big: and hitting the boat-the boater got the ticket and the repair bill!.

Usually we have an alpha and dive flag on the boat and the dive flag on the float. As noted by others I think this is the best way to do it as you are covered if something does happen.

Love the new dive flag float!!!!! Think ST will stock 'em?

Bert
11-16-2007, 16:45
Here's a scary thought in Michigan if you were born after Dec 31 1978 you must take a boater safty class I will be 28 in Dec so 7 years ago I took the class just to comply with the law. After the first class the instructor came up to me and asked why I was in his class. (I grew up boating)I told the instuctor that my current job(mechanic @ marina) I needed it to comply with state law. I have seen more than my fair share of damage to boats caused by idoits.. We need a standard written and "road" test for boaters.

DiverBoy100
11-16-2007, 17:09
I dont trust people in boats when i am diving so i always use a dive flag

No Misses
11-16-2007, 17:23
I just posted a story under "stupid things I have done while diving". I had a self induce OOA situation. While doing my CESA, I heard an approaching boat. I had no choice, I had to surface. If I had been towning a surface marker, there would not have been the close call that almost ended badly.

Surface marker/Flag = good

Surface marker/Flag + good ear = Better :-)

mm2002
11-17-2007, 19:44
The dive flag to me is a two edged sword. Some moron boaters will come close to see what the thing is and it may attract some boats. On the other hand for anyone who knows what the thing it, they will likely stay far away. I don not see why states do not require some type of licensing to operate a boat. You are required to take and pass a test before driving a car, riding a motorcycle, drive a big truck, fly an airplane. So why are boats exempt? If at the minimum you were required to take and pass a written test, then maybe you might understand the dive flag law and as a boater know to stay away. You can also be cited while operating a boat, such as registration, no wake zone, drunk driving. So if you can receive a citation for operating one incorrectly why isn't there a requirement for licensing as well. It could be as simple as taking the test and getting an endorsement on you current license, just like a motorcycle endorsement. My 0.02 anyways.


I can relate to that in a big way. On Table Rock, there are more drunk stupid a-holes who have no business operating a boat on the water at any given time, especially during the peak tourist season. The main problem is that all of the marinas will rent a boat to anybody that has the cash. Even if that person has never driven a boat before in his/her life, after a short 10 min. "training" session, they let 'em loose! In that session, there's NOTHING mentioned about marker buoys, dive flags, swim flags, or any other important part of driving a boat. All they seem worried about is showing you the channels so you don't f#$*k up the damned prop! I know this as a fact because although we own a boat, sometimes when we're camping we'll rent one just out of convenience. Never once have any of those places even attempted to show us the meaning or importance of the various markers. I'm sorry to rant here, but this practice just pisses me off.

On one of our recent shore dives, we were diving at Dewey Short, and anyone who's been there knows that there are buoys lined all the way to the dam. Inside those buoys you are not required to have a dive flag, because boats aren't supposed to be inside that area. Well, low and behold, some a-hole in a rented pontoon boat came right through the buoy line, and swerved about 50 ft from the shore. All the time he was waving at us on shore and shouting something drunken (who knows what he was saying), and continued back out of the buoys and into the main lake.

I swear to anyone reading this that if I'd had a gun, there would have been one dead dumbass tourist reported in the papers the next day. The fact that I didn't have a gun on me is exactly why I'm still at home typing this post on my computer, and not in jail.

WAHMof2
11-17-2007, 20:17
Yes!!!! I couldn't have ranted it any better. That day and that guy, really had me p*ssed off and scared of what other jerk offs would be doing out there!! I think the marina's and any other boating places should have it REQUIRED to review the buoys and flags and what they mean with renters - as well as HAVE THEM POSTED on a non-removable sign ON the boat!!

mcc2318
11-20-2007, 01:54
it doesnt really matter most states its the law

2thdivr
11-20-2007, 17:09
If a boat gets too close to your flag and you get the registration number off of it, local law enforcement will be willing to have a talk with the boat owner. If you have multiple witnesses, that alone might be enough for a fine. My LDS instructors have several stories of guys they got fined for violating the dive flag space of various classes.


Yes they might talk to them, but to issue a citation they need to witness the incident. As told to me by the local Marine Patrol.

MSilvia
11-21-2007, 07:57
On one of my last dives, a couple of jet skiers blasted in from between a gap in the rocks, just as we were preparing to enter the water. Though they were some distance away, I could hear one of them say to the other, "See that flag? They're going to be diving here... we should find somewhere else."

As they jetted away, I couldn't help but think we could use more people like that guy.

BouzoukiJoe A.K.A. wrecker130 AKA Chuck Norris AKA joeforbroke (banned)
11-21-2007, 08:42
Two thumbs up. Definitely.

Grin
11-21-2007, 09:33
Also consider a float and reel to send the float up before you accend. This allows free movement during your dive, the boat operator to have 5-10 minutes to locate you while you accend, and man y other benefits.