(CMR) As the Cayman Islands prepares to implement a five-year tourism management plan concerns are growing about safety on Cayman’s waters especially with the recent record breaking number of visitors on island.
Cayman's dive and tour operators are pleading with enforcement agencies to come up with a workable solution to address ongoing safety issues; in particular as it relates to jet skiers in after near misses continue to be an almost daily occurrence.
With 9 water related deaths already this year; operators are asking how many more deaths are required before better safety policies are enforced.
This plea comes after another video surfaced on social media showing a jet skier allegedly driving dangerously. Joanna Mikutowicz (Jo) from Dive Tech posted the video earlier today in hopes of highlighting what she says is an ongoing safety concern with no apparent resolution in sight.
The video shows a jet skier having no regard for divers in the water and driving at high speeds whilst dangerously approaching the marked dive site.
When contacted by Cayman Marl Road Jo explains that this has been an ongoing area of concern for as long as she can remember and always comes up at dive operator meetings. However, no solution appears to be in sight.
She explains that it appears that jet ski divers don’t appreciate the fact that they are endangering people’s lives and a serious accident is in the making. In fact, she noted that recently they had an incident where a jet skier went right over a diver as he was beginning a descent but thankfully he was far enough under water not to be injured.
She posted the video on her Facebook page and said that in fact what we see is relatively tame compared to most days – with jet ski drivers insistent on coming closer and faster to the divers – as though they are an obstacle course.
The video was taken at the Three Trees dive site off public beach and close to the Kimpton Resort. As part of their safety protocols diver operators place dive flags up and they are tied to designated dive site moorings.
She explains they used marked dive sites to ensure safety. Jet skiers on the other hand, appear to have no rules by which they are operate. They constantly ignore the triangular cones that they should stay in.
When asked why she thinks this is happening she indicates that some operators do a thorough job of briefing renters on safety before they go on the waters whilst some may not but that generally speaking it appears that when people go on vacation they take on a carefree don’t care attitude.
Further, we understand that there was a report yesterday where a Red Sail boat operator radioed the Port Authority for help with some rampant jet skiers only to be told to contact Harbour Patrol for assistance. Harbour Patrol in turn told them to contact 911. With no one taking responsibility for enforcing water safety the concerns are mounting.
Jo wonders if it will take a fatality on the waters before a sound plan is implemented to address this issue. She states obviously frustrated:
“so let’s just wait until someone dies (which will happen if this keeps up) and then deal with it? I don’t know about anyone else in Cayman but I’m over it.”
She shared with CMR
“The situation as is, is not working – we need a solution before someone dies”
Another tour operation shared his sentiments with CMR:
“If you can hear the buzz of a jet ski when you are underwater it generally means that they are within 50 feet travelling at speed. Sometime more than 60mph. Do the maths. 60mph by 50 feet doesn’t leave much avoidance space. I my self was almost killed by one on a dive site 15 years ago on a dive with two new divers.
Red Sail Sports and a few of the SMB operators who rent them out have a pretty good record but there are a few rogue public beach guys who basically don’t give a crap they just want tourists money.”
He also supports prohibiting jet skis at the Sandbar completely and shared:
“They do not have a licence to operate in the WIZZ zone which is basically Sandbar. They come and leave the Sandbar within 20 at full speed. They anchor down in the middle of the Sandbar which is against the law. DOE have told me just recently that they have no way of enforcing anything as the laws are to weak.”
The Minister of Tourism, Moses Kirkconnell has been contacted for comment.