Responsibility – Owner(s), operator(s), manager(s) and master of each yacht should ensure that all such activities carried out onboard a yacht or utilizing the yacht as a base are conducted in a safe manner bearing in mind any certification requirements and are supervised at all times by suitably qualified personnel. Furthermore, they should be in full compliance with the laws, regulations and guidelines applicable in the area of the yacht’s operation as well as any applicable sections of this Code and referenced documents.
Sportfishing – Many yachts are especially fitted with fishing gear, fish tanks, baitwells, fish finders etc in order to engage in this popular sporting activity as opposed to commercial fishing activity which involves the sale of fish. Yachts engaged in commercial fishing activities are not yachts and must be registered as fishing vessels. Some of these sport fishing yachts are also cruisers and are capable of long range/unlimited operation. From the outset, we wish to explain that Belize is very supportive of marine conservation and is a member of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) as well as a wide range of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), some of which manage highly migratory species e.g. tunas and others which manage pelagic species e.g. mackerels. At the same time, as you are no doubt aware, a number of species e.g. Eastern Atlantic /Mediterranean bluefin tunas are currently threatened due to overfishing. Therefore, as a responsible fishing nation, we wish to ensure that our sportfishing yachts have to hand the basic guidelines in order to enjoy fishing in a safe and responsible manner.
Fishing gear: We recommend the use of circle hooks. These have proved to be effective in the avoidance of by-catches such as turtles, sea birds etc. Practice “catch and release” and only retain onboard fish which you will consume. Release small fish/juveniles of all species.
Jet-skiing – The carriage, stowage, lifting and securing of jet-skis should be addressed in the yacht’s safety management system together with the maintenance thereof. The jet-ski should be marked with the name of the yacht. Only persons of 16 years of age or over and persons whose feet reach the footwell floor should be permitted to operate/ride on jet-skis. Some countries have special regulations regarding jet-skis which include registration, licensing, safety equipment and minimum ages. You should ensure that you are aware of these regulations, especially if you envisage a long stay in any one country. You should ensure compliance with local regulations at all times.
- wear an approved life jacket and a wet suit bottom or clothing that provides an equivalent level of protection.
- attach the engine shut-off lanyard.
- forbid passengers from riding in front of the operator.
- stay clear of the intake grate and water jet.
- ensure that children understand that a jet-ski is not a toy.
Extreme caution should be used when using jet-skis around swimmers and surfers; scan constantly for people, objects and other watercraft. Always run your jet-ski at slow speed until it is away from shore, swimming areas and docks. Also, avoid passing close to other boats and jumping wakes. This is dangerous and often illegal. Never use a jet-ski in poor visibility or after dark. Frequent causes of accidents are: the unlawful use by underage children, collisions resulting in more injuries and deaths than any other type of personal water craft, lack of any formal training.
Scuba Diving – This is a wonderful way to enjoy the underwater world. However, you should ensure that all persons who will engage in such activities from the yacht:
- have passed a recent medical test and do not suffer from any medical condition.
- are in possession of at a minimum a PADI Open Water Diver Certificate or equivalent.
- Never dive in rough or dangerous waters or in environments for which you are not trained, even after you are certified. Ice diving, cave diving and shipwreck diving require special training. One can easily lose one’s way or become trapped and run out of air.
- Never dive by yourself.
- Never dive without checking the local weather conditions. Ensure that the water and weather conditions are safe. Water conducts electricity, therefore, stop swimming, jet-skiing or other sporting activities on the water as soon as you see or hear a storm or heavy rains approaching.
- Only those who are proficient swimmers should be allowed to participate.
- Familiarize yourself with the particular equipment and know how it functions.
- Never snorkel alone.
- Stay close to the yacht or shore and avoid being carried too far by a current.
- Check the local water and weather conditions in order to ensure that it is safe to snorkel. Stop snorkelling and return to the yacht or shore as soon as you see or hear a storm or heavy rains approaching.
Water-skiing Commercial yachts offering this activity should ensure that there is a professional ski instructor onboard. By way of general guidelines:
- All participants should be proficient swimmers and wear approved life jackets.
- The boat/tender and ski-equipment should be maintained in accordance with their respective manufacturer’s instruction manuals and included in the yachts safety management system.
- The boat/tender’s engines should always be switched off when approaching a fallen skier. Beware of moving propellers.
- Avoid heavily used boating lanes, areas reserved for fishing or other restricted areas.
- Do not ski in poor visibility or after dark.
- Skiers should understand the signals which the driver will use for slowing down, speeding up and turning around.
- The driver needs to focus on what is ahead. Therefore, ensure that there is an additional person in the boat who will watch you ski.
- Check the local water and weather conditions. Stop skiing and return to the yacht or shore as soon as you see or hear a storm or heavy rains approaching.
Para-sailing – This activity should only be undertaken by a yacht whose owners/operators/managers are fully licensed and insured to offer this sporting activity. For details, you should refer to the Parasail Safety Council on http://www.parasail.org/, the world’s largest Parasailing Association. You should ensure that you comply with any national or local regulations governing this sport. For example, the State of Florida, USA has recently legislated that an owner of a vessel engaged in commercial parasailing should obtain a license from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:
- requiring that licensing fees be paid into the Marine Resources Conservation Trust Fund in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission;
- requiring the license to be available for inspection;
- requiring proof of insurance;
- requiring the owner of a vessel engaged in commercial parasailing to obtain and carry an insurance policy;
- providing minimum coverage from the insurance policy;
- providing requirements for proof of insurance;
- requiring a person who conducts commercial parasailing activity to provide a copy of the certificate of insurance to each rider upon request;
- providing certain requirements for a vessel used for commercial parasailing;
- requiring a person engaged in operating a vessel for commercial parasailing to possess a license to engage in carrying passengers for hire;
- requiring a minimum age for a person to monitor the progress of an airborne parasail rider and equipment;
- prohibiting a person from operating a vessel engaged in commercial parasailing unless certain conditions are met;
- prohibiting a person from operating a vessel towing a commercial parasailing rider in certain waters or within a certain distance of specified objects;
- providing circumstances in which commercial parasailing is prohibited;
- providing requirements for tow lines;
- requiring commercial parasail operators to launch and recover riders from the vessel’s launch platform;
- requiring a safety briefing for passengers and participants; requiring that a person possess a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation course card and a standard first aid course card in order to operate a parasail vessel;
- providing that an agreement that attempts to exculpate or release a provider from liability is not enforceable; prohibiting a provider from conditioning participation in commercial parasailing upon the execution of an exculpatory agreement; providing a criminal penalty; providing an effective date.
Additional guidelines for participants: Avoid this activity in high wind conditions over (15 knots) due to an increased difficulty and complications during emergency water landings. Never go up in rain, fog or an approaching storm. Educate yourself on the different types of parasail equipment, passenger support devices e.g. Harness, Tandem Bar, Ridged Chair methods being offered. Make certain that you get adequate safety briefing prior to your flight. This safety briefing should include; a) a description of the activity itself, b) safety procedures in the event of an unexpected emergencies, c) the proper use of hands signals while airborne, d) evacuation procedures during a waterlanding, fire or capsizing, e) precluding any participant who appears to be afraid or intimidated prior to their aerial excursion. Parasailing altitude of more than 600 feet is discouraged in close proximity of shoreline or objects. The maximum altitude for using hand signals and recovery during water landings over open ocean is 600 and 300 feet over small lakes, bays or sounds. (these figures are based on ideal wind and sea conditions with limited traffic) Ask all the right questions. How long is the flight? Is it dangerous? can I be injured? Is there good flying weather today? etc. In the good weather conditions, utilizing the right equipment operated by an experienced crew. Parasailing can be a safe, fun, Aerial Adventure. Comparison studies have shown that there is an increased risk utilizing certain types of equipment, but general speaking parasailing with an experienced captain, using well maintained equipment, in good weather conditions is paramount to safety. The most common accidents occurred during tow line separation from the boat, equipment failure, high speed water and deck landings, canopy rotation, line popping and whiplash.
Finally, as already stated in each of our Codes under the Section entitled Guidelines for Sporting and Leisure activities, the consumption of alcohol within four hours prior to serving as a member of a watch or being on duty should be prohibited. The same applies to those participating in yacht-based sporting activities. Typically, the maximum blood alcohol level (BAC) during work or when engaged in sport should be no more than 0.08%. According to the American Red Cross, more than 50% of drownings result from boating accidents involving alcohol. Drug and alcohol abuse directly affect your fitness and impair judgement, balance and coordination.
We wish you safe and thoroughly enjoyable sporting and leisure activities onboard Belize registered yachts.
As extracted from the publication available on http:// www.immarbe.com/yachts/guide_sporting_leisure.html