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Too close for comfort: Dive operator calls for jet ski regulations

One dive operator told Cayman 27 he’s fed up with bad behaviour from jet ski riders, who speed by too close for comfort when divers are in the water below.

For a diver, the thought of a collision with a speeding jet ski on the water would certainly qualify as a nightmare scenario.

Tom Shropshire of Off the Wall Divers said he sees dangerous behaviour on the part of jet ski riders almost every day, veering unnervingly close at times to dive boats. He’s calling for regulations for jet ski rental businesses to help ensure their riders are properly briefed, before an accident happens on the water.

“They are coming in close, they are buzzing, we are giving them an air horn,” described Mr. Shropshire. “They do come close, you do not know where our divers are at any given time, or certainly the jet skis don’t, and anyone could pop up at any time and there could be an accident, so, I do think some training needs to be done.”

He is calling for regulations including standardised training.

“I believe that training should include standardized briefing, the briefing could include distance from dive boats, where they can and cannot go, maybe even past incidences that have happened, highlight those,” said Mr. Shropshire.

“Please don’t cross that yellow triangle, you see those boats behind, there’s people diving, so please be between the yellow triangle and the red buoy,” Sandra Woodman told a jet ski customer before a ride on the water.

Ms. Woodman said she already gives a detailed briefing to those who rent jet skis from her along Seven Mile Beach. When they observe one of their riders going afoul of the rules, she said it’s back to the beach for them, and no refund.

“Yes, in that case, we always send a jet ski to make sure they follow the instructions,” she said. “The most important thing is safety, everybody needs to be safe.”

Mr. Shropshire said whether it’s through government, or through the Cayman Islands Tourism Association, something needs to be done.

“Whether they have been told or not, we don’t know for sure, but it is just dangerous behavior on the part of those jet ski drivers out there, and I think there’s should be some regulations put in place and somebody needs to take action to do it, would love to see it done,” he said.

A quick search of the archives brought up several jet ski related incidents, though none of them involved scuba divers.

Back in 2015, a 31-year-old Virginia man was killed when two jet skis collided off Seven Mile Beach near the Westin.

In 2011 a teenage cruise passenger was airlifted to Miami after a jet ski and the banana boat she was riding collided off public beach.

Way back in 2000, almost 20 years ago, popular footballer Gladstone Brown drowned after being thrown from a jet ski without a life jacket.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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