Boaters Urged To Exercise Caution & Safety

June 13, 2013

Inspector Robert Cardwell of the Marine Police Unit was joined by Mr. Ralph Richardson, Chairman of the Bermuda Water Safety Council today [June 13] in reminding the boating public on water safety rules and regulations.

“In the wake of several marine incidents over the last several weeks it is timely for us to remind the public who take to the waters that they are required to act responsibly and obey all laws that govern safety when taking to the waters”, said Inspector Cardwell.

A 23ft Wellcraft boat pictured after it ran aground with 8 people onboard in April 2013:

Rescue After Boat Runs Aground, Bermuda April 14 2013 (3)

Inspector Cardwell continued, “The majority of marine accidents happen at night-time. Operating a marine vessel at night time should only be undertaken by experienced boat operators. There are various water hazards to be considered including reefs, fixed buoys, islands and floating debris.”

Chairman of the Bermuda Water Safety Council Mr. Ralph Richardson said, “The Bermuda Water Safety Council would like to emphasize the need to properly supervise children when on the beach and shorelines and around public and private pools. Children can get into trouble quickly, even in shallow water”.

Inspector Cardwell’s full statement follows below:

Good morning,

I am Inspector Robert Cardwell and I am currently the Officer in Charge of the Marine and Roads Policing Units. I am here today to speak on behalf of the Marine Police Unit.

As we are now into the summer months, activities in and around the waters in Bermuda will increase. The Bermuda Police Service is committed to its mission of ‘making Bermuda safer’ and ensuring public safety.

In the wake of several marine incidents over the last several weeks it is timely for us to remind the public who take to the waters that they are required to act responsibly and obey all laws that govern safety when taking to the waters.

The BPS Marine Unit will be enforcing laws that govern the safe operation of all marine vessels on the waters. This includes the enforcement of the 5 knot/no wake zone designated in and around the shores of Bermuda. Boat operators are reminded that this law must be obeyed at all times to avoid accidents with swimmers and damage to property.

Additionally boat operators are responsible for their wake and should exercise good judgment when underway around docks and fuel stations even if not in a 5 knot/no wake zone. There are requirements for vessels to carry safety equipment when operating inshore and additional safety equipment required when operating offshore.

Members of the public can obtain a pamphlet with this information by visiting the Bermuda Police Service Marine Unit office, or alternatively by visiting the Water Safety Council web site at www.wsc.bm and clicking on ‘resources’.

Any vessel operator upon inspection by the Marine Police found not to be carrying the appropriate safety equipment can expect to be reported for the offense committed and Police will exercise their authority to order an operator to return the vessel to its dock or moorings. Failing to comply with this order is also a reportable offence.

Operators of marine vessels are reminded that there are laws against operating vessels whilst under the influence of alcohol or drug. The legal limit is under 100 mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

Throughout the summer months it is traditional that a disproportionate number of complaints are received about the operation of Jet Skis and the blocking of public docks.

The power and speed of some of the more modern Jet Skis require that they be operated responsibly and safely or it is likely serious injury will be suffered by the operator as well as other water users. Public Docks are for loading and unloading only.

Vessels should not be left tied to a public dock and the operator should never leave their vessel unattended at a public dock. A reportable offence is committed by any person who fails to obey this law. The Marine Police Unit will be coordinating the enforcement of safe Jet Ski operation and public dock access with land based Police Units.

The majority of marine accidents happen at night-time. Operating a marine vessel at night time should only be undertaken by experienced boat operators. There are various water hazards to be considered including reefs, fixed buoys, islands and floating debris.

Running lights (green-starboard / red-port and white stern) are required. It is critically important that marine vessels are not run at speed at night-time and that anyone who is operating a marine vessel at night-time has the skill and the local navigational awareness to do so.

All marine vessels are required to be registered with the Department of Marine and Ports. Officers in the Marine Police Unit have started to inspect vessel registrations and are reporting the operators of unregistered vessels. The penalty for failing to register a vessel includes an appearance in the Hamilton Magistrates Court and a fine is likely.

The Bermuda Power Boat Association has commenced its racing season and a number of races have been organized throughout the summer. Notice of the courses being raced is published ahead of the race in the print media.

These vessels travel very fast and whilst the drivers are experienced and skilled they must manage both the speed they are travelling together with the conditions of the waters.

Whilst power boat racing offers excitement to spectators, the operators of vessels not participating in the races are required to ensure that they are positioned in a safe place to watch and vessels that are underway in the area of a race route to ensure that you are not causing wake that can be dangerous to the operators of the racing boats.

You are also asked to take heed of any warning or direction that is given by any race marshal. Failure to do so will result in race marshals calling upon the Marine Police Unit to assist if required.

The Bermuda Police Service once again reminds the public that the Marine Police Unit is no longer located at the Barr’s Bay Office. The Unit is now temporarily located at the Police Comops Building in Prospect, Devonshire before they make their permanent move to new offices in Dockyard expected to be 1st August.

Marine Police launches will continue to operate from Barr’s Bay. There will be no disruption to calls for services or general police patrols of the waterways in and around Bermuda as a result of the office move. Any Marine Unit inquiries can continue to be made on 247-1770.

The Bermuda Police Service wishes all a safe and enjoyable summer on the waters.

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Mr Richardson’s full statement follows below:

Summer means fun in the water for the entire family. A time to play on the beach or the shoreline and around the pool. However fun around the water can easily lead to tragedy and untold grief for families through injury or premature loss of life of a loved one.

Even though this summer season is yet young, there have already been incidences of near drownings. These were due to inattention by adults with young children.

The Bermuda Water Safety Council would like to emphasize the need to properly supervise children when on the beach and shorelines and around public and private pools. Children can get into trouble quickly, even in shallow water.

Adults must ensure that someone is responsible and carefully watching young children at all times. Sitting off and enjoying the beach party while the children run around unsupervised is a recipe for disaster.

Diving into shallow water around our coast lines is also a very dangerous past time. Numerous accidents happen each year, some leading to death or permanent disability. Many young lives have been forever changed as a result of diving accidents.

So too is the danger around both private and public pools. Parents and guardians should accompany their young children at public pools, as supervision may not always be up to proper standards. In the end parents and guardians must accept responsibility for any incident that involves those within their care.

Private pools can be a special danger because of the familiarity of the surroundings and a sense of complacency that may set in. Not everyone has the same appreciation for the potential for accidents to occur. Young children do not have such appreciation and may venture beyond expected limits.

You can make this a safe summer for you and your family by doing the following:

  • Always ensure that young children are well supervised, at all times, when near the ocean or the pool
  • Set ground rules for using the pool with no exceptions allowed
  • Adhere to public warning signs regarding hazards such as heavy surf, rip tides and dangerous creatures such as the Portuguese-man-of-war, sharks etc.
  • Make sure there are life guards on duty or, at the very least, a flotation device with an attached lanyard which can be thrown to a person experiencing difficulty in the water
  • Wear personal flotation devices (life jackets) on small boats – especially with children and those who cannot swim – also have at the least have have one PFD on board for each passenger
  • Avoid children sitting on the bow of the boat, especially small fast vessels where a large wake or quick stop could be disastrous
  • Keep pool gates locked at all times with child proof locks
  • Keep a first aid kit available when playing around the beach – consult with a pharmacist regarding contents for your sea safety first aid kit
  • Avoid diving into water where the depth is shallow or unknown
  • Make a personal commitment to have a safe a fun summer for you and your entire family

Finally, the Bermuda Water Safety Council would like to wish everyone in Bermuda a fun and safe Summer. Please visit our website at: www.wsc.bm for more information.

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