All watersports operators are being encouraged to use and operate their vessels in a responsible manner.

This advice has come from Shipping Superintendent at the Ministry of International Transport, Walter Best, during an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service to outline the Ministry’s concerns over how some of the vessels were being operated.

He said while sports craft such as jet skis may be a source of fun and enjoyment, if used irresponsibly, they could be the cause of a fatal accident or nuisance to other water users. "They [jet skis] can leave a trail of death or injury in their wake if operators are not trained and if they do not obey the rules. Most accidents occur through negligence occasioning collisions with other vessels," Mr. Best said.

However, he made it clear that taking the necessary precautions did not only rest with the operators of the vessels, but also the person engaging in the sport. "Persons engaged in water skiing should first obtain the necessary tuition even if they do not know what they are doing because the driver cannot drive the boat and watch the skier at the same time. There must always be a trained look-out on the boat, the Shipping Superintendent pointed out.

He explained that the look-out should be trained in rescue techniques and able to observe if a person was experiencing difficulties or likely to fall into the water. He added that the person using the jet ski should also be able to swim.

Mr. Best noted that operators should also obtain personal information from clients such as their name, address, and telephone number, where they were staying and medical conditions in the event of an accident.

He added that clients should also be given a safety briefing and taken onboard the vessel before being allowed to take any ride on a jet ski. "Under no circumstances should a jet ski be rented to a person under the age of 16, except the person is going to be accompanied by an adult," he stressed.

However, the Shipping Superintendent also had some advice for visitors and others engaging in watersports activities. He advised them to ensure that they were given a properly fitted life jacket which would stay on in the water. "If it is too small it will not provide you with enough buoyancy. If it is too big, it will float up around your ears in the water making it harder for you to breathe, and could hamper you as you climb back onboard the vessel," he cautioned.

He added that protective helmets should also be worn if one is being towed on an inflatable craft such as the banana ride.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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