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Thread: Video: boat runs over divers and dive flags.

  1. #51
    Grouper
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davetowz View Post
    perhaps the problem is communication between several groups that all love the water.
    I think you nailed it.
    Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance. ~Sam Brown

  2. #52
    Grouper
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    Tim (Splitlip) might have info on current status of this case as he is more connected to WPB politics than me. But I can tell you there is a lot of controversy about Blue Heron Bridge from a lot of different parties: city of Riviera Beach, boaters, anglers, Rybovich who wants to build a mega yacht shipyard and dredge, collectors, classes, recreational divers, photographers. The divers are a very small minority compared to all other interests. The South Florida Boating & Fishing industry is huge and powerful. Much more so than the diving community.

    This is further complicated by the fact that historically this park has always belonged to the residents of Riviera Beach who still fish for their dinner there, bbq with families on weekends and bring their kids to swim at the beach. They tolerate the divers, but please understand folks, this is not a divers-only park by any stretch! Also, the area is man-made - albeit very long established - so that raises other issues about just how "protected" it should be.

    The outcome of this particular incident is still unknown. What it HAS done is raise awareness to all divers that boats can (and do) go through the site and hopefully everyone will exercise even more caution.

    In answer to the question, yes, I dive Blue Heron Bridge regularly. Almost once a week. And I plan to continue to dive safe & smart and enjoy its beauty as long as I can.
    "The sea is not out to get you. It does not even know you exist."

  3. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by mitsuguy View Post
    Being both a dive instructor AND a USCG captain, it is tough to say the boat truly did anything wrong. In fact, according to the laws in Florida, you are allowed idle speed within the 100' radius in inlets and passageways
    A boat is NOT allowed to come with 100' UNLESS they have made a reasonable effort to steer around the flag. People keep reading this law incorrectly picking out one line from the entire passage. According to reports he was warned before he entered and his boats mast can easily clear the main channel, IMO he is in the wrong. I would also point out all these laws are superceeded by the do no harm federal and maritime laws.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitsuguy View Post
    In fact, you may say the divers were in the wrong: (3) No diver or group of divers shall display one or more divers-down flags on a river, inlet, or navigation channel, except in case of emergency, in a manner which shall unreasonably constitute a navigational hazard

    Because the channel is not limited just to the area where the dive boat was, and the buoys on either side of the bridge mark the actual channel, you could say the divers were posing a navigational hazard and should not have been present there at all.
    This I believe is also an incorrect translation of the law. That is not a marked navigation channel unlike the actual marked navigation channel right next to it. This channel falls under open water rules IMO and the divers have done nothing wrong as well as having an equal right to the space as any other water user. Boaters that think they have a right to open water over a diver, fishermen, etc is incorrect and dangerous.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitsuguy View Post
    Anyways, just my 2 cents, but, again, if you actually knew the law guys, you might see that the divers were in the wrong and that the sailboat appears to have done what they could once they were already committed to that route...
    According to reports by the boat captain shooting the video the sailboat captain was warned before entering the channel. Also when surfaced divers were present as they were and the captain sees them as it appears he does, the captain should have killed the engines completely allowing the divers more time to move. Right of passage isn't nearly as important on the water as doing everything possible to avoid a collision. Had he clipped a diver I am quite sure this incident would have gone against the boater.
    Last edited by Straegen; 09-13-2011 at 10:04.

  4. #54
    Barracuda Founding Member
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    A dangerous situation but was there any commentary from authorities?
    'in media stat virtus'
    Virtue's in the middle

  5. #55
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    This seriously freaked me out, but now I'll pay even more attention when I'm in the water (especially because Alki is near a Water Taxi route).

    But two points, which have probably already been hit on:

    First, I think that dive buoys should be bigger. It's hard to balance convenience and size, but if it is MY life on the line, I would like the biggest freakin' flag/buoy they sell to tell everyone to stay away from me. Not that they were too small to see, but IMO they were to small for someone not paying attention to see.

    Second, part of being a responsible boater is planning your trips for the tides and things like bridge clearance. Especially if you have a boat with a large draft, and varying tidal conditions (both of which exist in Puget Sound). Long story short, I agree with the sentiment that the captain should have stuck to the marked channel, regardless if "other boats" used the side one. And if he didn't think he could clear the bridge in the marked channel...then you just say "whoops, my bad" and kick yourself in the butt for not paying attention to tides.

    Also...I understand (not condoning) power boating buzzed, but how would you even operate a sailboat when it's so much more complex to handle? Anyways....silly captain, boats are for sober people!

  6. #56
    Grouper
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    FWIW, I do a lot of beach diving here in Florida. I have a boat sized dive flag, not the little ones that most divers use. I have seen prop wash more than once. I had a friend years ago, that had one of those inflatable buoys that said DIVER BELOW, somebody tried to steal his buoy. Jet skiers use the flags for their own slalom course..
    The biggest problem is most people don't know what a dive flag looks like or what the law says regarding flags. Throw in that here in Florida a boater does not need a safe boating course, or for that matter, any course to operate a boat, and it gets real dicey on the ocean. When we hear a boat, we sink as low as we can and wish we had a spear gun.

  7. #57
    Shark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straegen View Post
    A boat is NOT allowed to come with 100' UNLESS they have made a reasonable effort to steer around the flag. People keep reading this law incorrectly picking out one line from the entire passage. According to reports he was warned before he entered and his boats mast can easily clear the main channel, IMO he is in the wrong. I would also point out all these laws are superceeded by the do no harm federal and maritime laws.
    In this scenario, however, it is impossible for ANY vessel to avoid coming within 100' of the dive flags. You say that boats mast can "easily" clear the bridge, but I don't see it that way, in fact, I see a mast within 5-8 feet of the bridge itself, if not less. As a boater, you always take the easiest, safest route. If the boater had been warned previously, he may not have had much of a choice, depending upon how early he was warned. If he was warned within 50-100' of the bridge, in a sailboat under power, he was committed and reverse would have done nothing except put the boat (and its passengers) under more danger.

    This I believe is also an incorrect translation of the law. That is not a marked navigation channel unlike the actual marked navigation channel right next to it. This channel falls under open water rules IMO and the divers have done nothing wrong as well as having an equal right to the space as any other water user. Boaters that think they have a right to open water over a diver, fishermen, etc is incorrect and dangerous.
    That is not a translation, that is a direct quote of the law.

    Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine

    You have chosen to translate it differently because you are biased. The center part, what you are referring to as the marked channel, is not actually the only part of the channel. It is the preferred channel - it has been dredged deeper than the other parts, but, it does not have the most air draft, which, in a sailboat is more important... Does that make sense to you?

    According to reports by the boat captain shooting the video the sailboat captain was warned before entering the channel. Also when surfaced divers were present as they were and the captain sees them as it appears he does, the captain should have killed the engines completely allowing the divers more time to move. Right of passage isn't nearly as important on the water as doing everything possible to avoid a collision. Had he clipped a diver I am quite sure this incident would have gone against the boater.
    I actually believe the captain killed the engines. Most boats, even sailboats, at idle forward, will move between 2 and 4 knots. That boat is hardly moving, at a pace I would say would be as slow as possible. Killing the engines on a boat completely leaves the boat completely unmaneuverable and puts the boat and its passengers at risk. At the point where divers are in the way and the boat (and its passengers) are at risk, the captains primary duty is the care of his passengers. Boats weigh soooo much more than a car does, and what happens when you take your car out of gear? It coasts... A boat will coast a long ways, but will be uncontrollable, as with very little forward movement and especially with no propwash going over the control surfaces, you will have very little control over where the boat goes... Last thing you want is a boat being pushed by the slightest breeze or current into the sidings there smashing the divers up against the siding - that would be even worse.

    I used to pilot many boats in and out of areas where there were a TON of divers on a daily basis. The only thing you can do is be careful, watchful and go slow when you can.

    Divers don't own the ocean, neither do boaters. Both need to obey any laws and watch out for each other. In this case, both parties are most likely at fault - the divers should not be there and boaters should be more careful to stay away. Its a tough call, but I doubt that the boater would have been in any trouble at all if he would have hit the diver - it seems he did everything he could given the situation.
    -cody / on vacation from vacation...
    PADI MSDT Instructor, US Coast Guard Captain - Master Near Coastal

  8. #58
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    Whooa..... Why should't the divers be there? There is no law that says what the divers were doing is illegal or against the law. BHB has become world renowned for its diversity of marine life and a haven for divers, including very well known photographers. We know the risks. The channel under the bridge is clearly marked (underwater by way of the pilings and 'the wall"), and no diver was in the boat channel.

  9. #59
    Shark
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    Quote Originally Posted by scuba_jenny View Post
    Whooa..... Why should't the divers be there? There is no law that says what the divers were doing is illegal or against the law. BHB has become world renowned for its diversity of marine life and a haven for divers, including very well known photographers. We know the risks. The channel under the bridge is clearly marked (underwater by way of the pilings and 'the wall"), and no diver was in the boat channel.
    Get educated Jenny...

    That is the biggest problem between boaters and divers. Divers think they know boating law, (lots of) Boaters don't know boating law either...

    I've posted it before, but here it is again: Statutes & Constitution :View Statutes : Online Sunshine
    "(3) No diver or group of divers shall display one or more divers-down flags on a river, inlet, or navigation channel, except in case of emergency, in a manner which shall unreasonably constitute a navigational hazard."

    Here is the kicker, and this is why I suggest you don't know the law. That area under the bridge, with the fenders, is not the ONLY passageway under the bridge. It is the preferred passageway, for boats with a deeper draft, but is not the only passageway. A navigational channel extends wider than where the fenders on the bridge are and if anyone has told you different, they are wrong. Some vessels may require the deeper part of the bridge, some may not. This one was obviously more concerned about their mast clearing the bridge than their keel clearing the bottom and took the channel with more air draft (clearance) than actual draft underneath the vessel...

    For those that doubt me, perhaps you know some basics - Red and Green marker buoys? Stay between them and you stay out of trouble, for the most part. If it was required that boats stay between the fendered area of this bridge, you would see red and green markers on opposite sides of the fendered area. Red on the right when returning to port, so, I would expect a red light and/or dayshape... Neither are obvious, so, it is not required to stay between the fenders... Now, if there is any chance of the fendered area being the only passageway for boats, then the government is at fault for not putting proper "road signs" up.
    -cody / on vacation from vacation...
    PADI MSDT Instructor, US Coast Guard Captain - Master Near Coastal

  10. #60
    Grouper
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    Excuse me, bud. But I don't appreciate your arrogance. We can have a discussion, but when it comes to demeaning comments (Get educated jenny) it becomes uncivilized.
    What you have just posted reiterates that boaters think they have the right of way in all ways. And it continues to perpetuate the notion that boaters are arrogant and own the water. Just because a channel is the preferred channel as you call it, does not give a boater the right to use another channel when divers are in the water. Especially when he was warned. Had he waited a half hour, or hour, or gone when it was not high tide this would not be an issue. Anybody who boats near BHB knows there are divers in the water at high tide. And because it being high tide negates the whole issue of using a side channel.

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