Members of the public are being urged to exercise caution when engaging in watersports activities this summer.
This advice is coming from Shipping Superintendent in the Ministry of International Business and International Transport, Walter Best, who stressed that there were a number of safety precautions for watersports operators and holiday makers to follow.
He stressed that all operators of watersports vehicles must be certified to operate and should have a speed boat driver’s licence before using the vessels. "People should not operate vessels [speed boats and jet skis] if they are not licenced to operate them, and no one under the age of 16 should be operating a jet ski," he said.
At the same time, Mr. Best stressed that those riding such vessels must also be properly briefed before setting off, wear a life jacket and be properly informed about the areas in which they can operate.
Designated areas for watersports activities are Maxwell Beach; Dover Beach; Carlisle Bay; Pile Bay; Fresh Water Beach commonly referred to as Paradise Beach; Coconut Creek; Tamarind Cove; Sandy Lane; Holetown; Colony Club and Heron Bay; Glitter Bay; Mount Standfast; St. Alban’s Beach; Mullins Beach; Kings Beach, Cholera Bay and Heywoods Beach.
Furthermore, it is an offence to undertake watersports activity at any other area without being authorised by the Director of Maritime Affairs.
However, Mr. Best warned that while the mentioned areas were designated for watersports activities, they were also used by members of the public to bathe, swim, dive or snorkel.
To avoid accidents, he explained swim areas along the West and South coast beaches were usually protected by "buoyed areas" which were placed at least 60 metres into the water, or further back depending on the popularity of the beach.
And, the Shipping Superintendent is advising that beach goers should not bathe outside the buoyed areas, and divers should use dive flags. He also cautioned speed boat and jet ski operators against going into the buoyed area and staying 50 metres away from dive flags.
"It is an offence to take any speedboat, surfboard or any other watercraft into swim areas that are provided for the public, and are to be used exclusively for sea bathing, diving and snorkeling," Mr. Best said.
He explained that the main purpose of a swim area was to prevent hazardous conflicts from arising between people wading, bathing, swimming or snorkeling in the water, and those involved in watersports, especially using high-speed water craft equipment.
The Ministry representative also pointed out that speedboats and jet skis should not enter or exit the beach by creating a wave, and should go no faster than five knots.
Mr. Best is also reminding water sports operators and the owners of the equipment that they needed to register their vessels.