MLA calls for pleasure boat pilot licences

| 04/08/2015 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

Ezzard Miller, North Side MLA (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS): A private member’s motion is being filed with the Legislative Assembly by the North Side representative to persuade government to introduce a licence for private pleasure boaters as a result of what he says are growing numbers of inexperienced boat users on the water in private craft. Ezzard Miller said he believes too many people are not only unaware of marine safety rules but are sometimes unable to handle their boats and he now wants to see people at the tiller, as well as the vessels, licensed.

Miller said his motion proposes that private boat owners driving vessels over a certain size with no demonstrable history or seafaring qualifications, such as a captain’s licence should be required to apply for a licence, for which they would have to undertake a safety and competency test not unlike a driving test.

The motivation for the motion comes from his own observations as well as reports by his North Side constituents of boat owners in regular near misses. But the MLA told CNS that this is a national issue and not just confined to his constituency, which is home to Rum Point, a popular gathering place for weekend boat users.

Although vessels over 21 feet must be licensed with the Port Authority, with fees starting at $200 per year rising to $10,000 for non-commercial boats over 100 feet, the owners and drivers of pleasure boats do not need a licence to pilot private boats, regardless of their level of experience or ability to manage their boats.

“I have seen too many dangerous incidents and near misses with owners, who may have the money for expensive pleasure boats but who have not taken the time or made the investment in learning how to pilot the boats properly and safely. It’s time to introduce a test and licensing system to keep all boaters safe,” he said.

The North Side representative is also calling on government to review and properly mark watersports zones around Grand Cayman. Miller said that while there are seven zones around the island, they are not clearly marked and many boat users seem unaware of where the zones are and the rules regarding them.

Vessels engaged in water-skiing, parasailing or other surface watersports are allowed to exceed the wider speed limits but only in designated areas, causing some disputes between owners unaware of where zones start and finish. Boats anchored in the areas not engaged in watersports are also blocking users. Miller said he wants to see some investment in demarking the zones to prevent potential accidents that could be caused by the current confusion.

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Category: health and safety, Laws, Local News, Politics

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    If Ezzard would concentrate on cleaning up his tiny district and demonstrate that a good representative can achieve a lot, then perhaps people would give his opinions and views some more consideration.

    Lead by example Ezzard, sort out your district. It really is tiny but yet, there is so much trash along the road, bums walking the street or sitting across the bars trashing out the place, abandoned vehicles dumped into yards and the list goes on and on…..

    Why don’t you find ways to get your community involved with sorting out their district?, Organize bi-weekly clean-ups, perhaps a competition for the “prettiest yard”, make people come together to help restore dilapidated houses/fences, get dumped cars removed. Find ways to motivate your people. Make NS the district everyone wants to visit!

    Please concentrate on sorting out what should be achievable rather than bringing motions for implementing laws that NOBODY will enforce.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sorry buddy, you’re wrong. The UK does not have strict licensing laws for private pleasure boating, only for commercial boats.
    However, boaters are encouraged to participate in courses designed to widen knowledge and expand experience, normally under the certification of the RYA.

    Unfortunately, all the lessons and testing in the world won’t stop idiots, as we see from the roads. But having such a training facility here on the island where people can learn these skills from a recognised organisation, such as the RYA, could only be a good thing and should be considered before resorting to petty taxation.
    These kind of courses should be kept affordable to encourage participation and be centered around both theory and practical learning. An RYA Power Boat 1 & 2 course only takes a couple of days to complete and is worth every penny.

  3. Anonymous says:

    To all you Ezzard haters that are being consumed by your own evilness here are a few facts you may wish to consider.
    It was Ezzard who created the Water Sports Zones in 1986, because he saw the importance of confining these actives to prescribed areas but allow people to enjoy water skiing, wake boarding and other surface sports.
    It was Ezzard who created the no diving zones in North Side because he saw the conflicts developing between fishermen and divers,
    It is not his job to enforce the laws they are others you get paid to do the enforcement.
    For those of you who say Ezzard won’t do anything about the situation at the Barn, I have been to many meetings with the police and at the district council where he has raised these issues.
    As for the drug dealing you claim goes on at Rum Point, I know Ezzard has been the one to insist that the relevant Government agencies clean up the property when the district council could get no action by the land owner. If you know so much about drug dealing going on at rum point maybe you should call the police.
    I know that Ezzard meets regularly with the police about the crime problem in North Side when he and other members of the district council were cleaning up the police station last year to get police presence there, where were you.
    You all can continue to be consumed with hating and attacking Ezzard we are proud of him and his willingness to speak publicly about all things concerning Cayman. What position does your representatives take on these issues, maybe you should be calling them..

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for that contribution…………..Ezzard.
      As for the Barn, close it down until the licensee cleans up his clientel, his parking lot and the huge pile of crap these local morons leave on the land opposite.
      If Ezzard is so concerned about the crime problem in NS, then why doesn’t he hand over those who commit these offences. He lives amongst them and he’s probably related to most of them.
      I suppose at least he does acknowledge that there is a crime problem up here, and that it is caused by his Caymanian constituents. When did an expat last get arrested for stealing conch, lobster, whelk or turtles. When did you last year of expat residents robbing the homes of their neighbours?
      No, this man is a windbag who grandstands to attract attention to himself. He makes lots of noise, but rarely achieves anything because his incoherent ranting just results in him being ignored.

      Northsider.

      • Anonymous says:

        Anonymous 10:45 if you had the courage to sign your name I would respond to you in person.
        You and all others can rest assured that I report any crime activity I witness to the police and give written statements to support it.
        Like I would deal you if you would sign your name to see if any are your statements are true and I invite you to produce proof of any of your allegations against my family or any other person I represent.
        If you don’t have the courage to meet me face to face give me a call and we can discuss your allegations my number is 327 5757.
        Signed D. Ezzard Miller

        • Anonymous says:

          Ezzard my dear man, just do as we do and open your eyes to what is going on in NS. It is clear that there is disproportionate anti social behaviour at Barn, compared to other NS bars, and a serious issue with the burglary of both expat and local homes by members of your own constituency.
          It is also clear that the same are also responsible for the unsustainable damage that poaching is having on the Rum Point Marine Park and adjoining waters.

          Whilst it is fair to say that you do not hold direct responsibility for the actions of these people, they definitely are the people that you represent so proudly.

          The reason why you attract such derision and hostility is because you fail to get a grip on your own constituency issues, yet interfere in other MLA’s districts whilst they stay quiet. A day doesn’t go by when this site hasn’t got a headline, (or several headlines) that inform us of your bitterness towards anyone you do not see as worthy of working, living or owning property here on Cayman. Frankly, the vast majority of level headed, hard working residents, (Caymanian and expat) are bored with hearing it and fed up with your unpalatable views.

          Now you are jumping on the boat licensing bandwagon because you have identified that it would disproportionately penalise non Caymanian residents. Does anybody honestly believe that your constituents are going to register and pay for the fundamental freedom of owning and running a pleasure boat?
          If you are so worried about public safety, then sort out the carnage that is a daily occurrence on Cayman roads. Stop the drunken/speeding yellow plate cars that leave Rum Point on a Sunday and introduce a proper driving tuition and testing system that recognises the appalling level of local driving standards.

          If people have attacked your family, that would be unfair and unwarranted as they are not in public service. However, you are, (and paid handsomely for it) and thus fair game, especially if you place yourself on the soap box of nationalist, isolationist and protectionist policy.
          Of course, if you can’t stand the heat of combative politics, then please feel free to leave the kitchen and make way for younger, more progressive candidates that look forward to a more inclusive and modern Cayman Islands.

          And no, I will not give you my name either as nothing would be gained by it. We’ve all seen and heard your incoherent bluster on the airwaves, in the press and some of us in person, (embarrassingly). Why would anybody get into a debate with such a blinkered and bad tempered opponent.
          No, we’ll just wait for your long overdue retirement or when you get unceremoniously dumped out of politics at a future election.

          Having witnessed you on the water and the obvious lack of seamanship you demonstrate, I wouldn’t be putting your head so far above the parapet if I were you.

          So please get your own house, (and constituency) in order before preaching to the rest of us.

          With respect.

  4. Anonymous says:

    More expensive laws on the books.

    No enforcement.

    What a waste of time and my money.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are rules on the water and easily available to anybody that has a boat.
    Just enforce the rules and laws by having more policing on the water.

    Licensing does not work, fines do . . . . .

  6. Anonymous says:

    Rules for the sake of Rules.

    Canada went this way in 2009, requiring proof of competency via a Pleasure Craft Operator Card (PCOC) – now required of everyone operating a motorized craft over 10hp in Canada (ex-Nunavut & NWT). It is a cheap multiple-guess online course. People take the course at their local supermarket in 15 minutes and are driving like maniacs hours later.

    No measurable reduction in boating accidents or behavioral impact at all, contrary to Transport Canada literature. 10mln pleasure craft boaters and consistently about 100 fatalities per year, or about 0.001% Not satisfied with this, Transport Canada now requires bailer buckets, rope, whistle, anchor, and lifejackets on everything, including freaking stand up paddle boards. How does one bail a SUP? This is bureaucracy run amok. Let’s not seek to emulate stupid decisions elsewhere.

    In Cayman we rarely see any enforcement of the existing rules, despite the disproportionate burden on public purse. <— Let's focus on changing that first.

  7. JTB says:

    Another day, another fatuous idea from the Independent Member for Bigotry, Racism and Stupidity

    • SSM345 says:

      For 10K+ a month, he sure does get paid handsomely to “Google” his next idea that he wants to put forth.

  8. Hazard Ous says:

    Don’t fret. Rightfully, nobody pays this man any mind.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Let’s enact law that says we have to enforce the laws we already have

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard. Why dont you police your constituents killing turtles & taking conch and lobster out of season first, before you initiate more beureacratic red tape on everyone.Or is that an entitlement?

    • Southsounder says:

      What a brilliant idea Ezzard, your wealthy, North Side boating constituents, are all desperate to spend money fixing up their boats, paying insurance, taking exams and getting their trailers registered!

      Have you lost the plot ?

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps Ezzard should take lessons first, his behaviour on boats is less than complimentary. Sunday at StarFish Point comes to mind.
        For heavens sake NS, get rid of this idiot at the next election.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yup, i have seen him out there. Little boat filled with folks. No way there were life jackets for the numbers he had on board puttering toward Rum Point.

      • Just Askin' says:

        He once had the plot?

  11. Philip says:

    Ezzard,

    Heres a few things you can do now that you have some free time on Tuesday mornings,

    FOI with the Port Authority and find out how many people have paid the boat licence fees over the past 5 years, then FOI how many boats were imported in those same years , the reason for this is that Customs will not release a boat until the license fee is paid on any new vessel imported, then do the simple math to see how many people each year pay for the boat license, then drive out to Rum Point on any Sunday afternoon and count the boats, (whilst there stop by the abandoned home next to RP Club and say hello to all the drug dealers and smokers) this will give you a clear idea of how many people do not pay.

    Next find out which department is responsible for enforcing the fees and and then ask why it is not being done.

    Then ask why any person over the age of 16 can captain a commercial boat carrying tourists without any kind of training whatsoever on boats that frankly are not fit to go to sea,this does not apply to many of the good operators out there , but there is a good share of bad ones.

    Next question would be to the Police Marine unit as to why on Sundays does the marine unit hang around Rum Point until 4pm then head home? when clearly common sense would tell you that the worst time for any offence is going to happen during the “rush hour” around 5-6pm.

    Finally then ask both the Port and Police as to whom is in charge of enforcing the port authorities rules as you might find that the police seem to think its not them and visa versa for the port, once this is cleared up, have one of the two sit on any give day in the Governors Creek channel and they should be able to hand out enough tickets for various infringements of the Port laws to cover the cost of implementing your suggestion.

  12. stu says:

    Will everyone have to take the same exam? Or will some just be allowed to carry on while others pay the dues? Maybe just call it the expat boat test and tax.

  13. Anonymouse says:

    It is true that there are underage kids driving around on their parents small private boats, but that doesn’t mean we have to ruin one of Cayman’s local luxuries and start pricing everyone for it. I was one of these underage kids driving around in a 16′ boat on the weekend. My father taught me how and over time I gained his trust and he knew I could manage the boat on my own. Parents don’t just give their kids the boat keys. That’s insane.

    However, I do agree commercial boats should have licensed and experienced captains. Big boats in general should, but for small private boats, don’t even get me started.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree, however when is Ezzard going to enforce the rules that already exist to stop speeding and dangerous behaviour by all sections of the community, including getting wasted at Rum Point on a Sunday?
      This is the man that wanted to encourage Rum Point Marine Park for use as a ‘water sports zone’, bringing high speed wave runners and skiers into direct conflict with swimmers and snorkellers.
      And whilst we’re on the subject. Why is it that the owners of a major bar/grill/restaurant on Northside/Cayman Kai believe it’s appropriate to allow their 13 year old son and his friends to operate a high speed wave runner without supervision. Isn’t there a minimum age limit already in force, if so why isn’t that being enforced?
      And they are definitely not alone in their stupidity. Too many kids are allowed to operate high and low speed craft of all descriptions without supervision, this must be regulated before a tragedy strikes.
      No Ezzard, look at the real reasons for the problems surrounding dangerous and illegal behaviour on the waters surrounding Grand Cayman. Merely having a boat licensing scheme won’t stop that, as marine law enforcement finds in the U.S. Otherwise they wouldn’t be necessary.
      Try stopping your own constituents robbing the marine parks of conch, whelk and lobster, stop them from robbing and ripping off the expat residents of Northside and get to the source of both these problems by getting rid of the drug dealing animals that promote this behaviour. And clear up the drunks and druggies from outside of the Barn and Kurts Corner that welcome visitors to Northside on a daily basis.

      Cayman doesn’t even put resources or funding into protecting Marine Parks, a vital source of tourist revenue and island heritage, how can it afford another line of bureaucratic nonsense to prevent a few spoiling it for the vast majority of responsible small craft owners.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Surely a sensible prior step is to require all fisherman to have a fishing licence and end the illegal discrimination on the basis of national origin under the existing tax provision.

  15. Brian Tomlinson says:

    Try to ‘splain this to dem N’Side boys, East Enders, and the Brackers. That’s when you will see a revolution.

  16. Anonymous says:

    What next… A fishing license, a head tax at Sandbar, why not put in toll booths while your at it? Any excuse for government to regulate and tax something.

    • Anonymous says:

      Technically, both those (license and head tax) already exist for expats and tourists. Foreigners are supposed to have a license to fish our shores and head tax is added into the fee associated with going to the Sandbar.

    • Anonymous says:

      He is a ediot he will create more crime, i have been without work for four years i live out of the sea and so do alot of other young caymanians. These accidents are cause from your white community XXXXX. Cayman isnt for us its for the rich mla’s and the white people with top jobs we can hardly afford to live in our own island its a shame

      • Anonymous says:

        You illiterate, racist pig!
        How dare you boil this argument down to the colour of someone’s skin. Just take your bigoted ass up to Rum Point on a Sunday and see how many Caymanians, (of all colours) break marine laws.

        This island was founded by ‘white’ people, settled by ‘white’ people, its institutions and traditions come from a ‘white’ country, and most of the money that goes into your lazy assed pockets comes from tourists and residents from ‘white’ countries. And yes, it’s head of state is also white.
        But none of that should matter to normal people, it only matters when stupid, uneducated retards like you don’t understand your own history, culture and traditions.

        Caymanians are not black or white, they are a mix of many different races, colours and creeds. So go back to sea and do us all a favour, keep going until you reach Africa, I bet I know where you’ll be better off, (and it won’t be Africa).

  17. Suck Fish hole says:

    Wasn’t the Royal Navy just here touting the prowess of our Shallow water navy oops !!marine unit or was that just a big ahoy there! for the media to make us believe they are actually doing something besides driving around fast food establishments wasting fuel. Question MLA Ezzard Miller needs to ask where are the marine patrols we often saw under Derek Haines leadership at the DTF.

  18. Shhhhhh. says:

    While we are at it, consider the proposed marine offenses ticketing system that I hear was proposed years ago, because, presently there is no practical way for the boating law breakers to be prosecuted by the R.C.I.P. Marine Unit without tedious case files and court cases which cost more than the puny fines presently in law. Lets not do this piece-meal, enact a thorough piece of legislation incorporating what Mr. Miller proposes, the ticketing system, drug and alcohol consumption, and lets get serious about boat safety certification at the same time. Its time enough now.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is easy. Assign 1 RCIPS officer to Maine Boats on the weekends and give DUIs processed like all others -hence the growing problem of drunk rum point rendezvous boaters will be cut in half! Also, adopt the US practice of “annual” cost guard type stickers per vessel- it means you have your boat voluntarily (free) certified each year. The marine police usually pass these boats over as they realize that safe boaters get their annual free check which leaves the irresponsible ones to “board and give DUI tests to”- all free and good practices my friends – no need for an extra layer of governement, just smart use of the teams we already have.
      Ahoy.

  19. Anonymous says:

    zzzzzzzzzzz…thw usual small town soundbite from ezzard….. what you doing on tuesday mornings now????

  20. Anonymous says:

    This motion is after you and your family were at StarFish point over the weekend handling a boat recklessly.

    Yes I called it in.

    Pot calling the kettle Ezzard

  21. Anonymous says:

    Just what we need more red tape and another Authority.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Hope it’s not the Marine Police teaching the course or certifying the captain!

  23. Anonymous says:

    North Siders PLEASE try to find someone useful to be your next MLA

  24. Sharkey says:

    I think that this is a good idea, the marine conservation board tried to get this put in law long time ago when there weren’t a lot of private boats and commercial boats. I have to say that I see what Mr Miller is calling for, I think that where he should start is establishing a real coast guard unit with qualified people, who would be able to carry out all duties of enforcement. The issue of just privately owned boat owners to have license and experience, I think that everyone that operates a pleasure/commercial boat should have a license and experience of being in charge of the boat and people lives and the marine environment.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Has anyone EVER been punished for taking too many conch or taking them out of season?

  26. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard Ezzard Ezzard Keep those ideas coming, more government is the answer.

  27. boo wiliams says:

    come on Ezzard…like this will ever happen. What bout taking care of your drug dealers that welcome everyone to your district..can’t you find everyone a job or wha’

    what happened to Archie?

    NS’der

  28. Anonymous says:

    Idea is good, but as always in Cayman, no one will check up and no one will enforce the law, unless you get a dog bite….HMS G.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Let’s guess if Caymanian boaters will have to pay that. Do something useful Ezzard

  30. Anonymous says:

    So the answer is to get the government involved so they can hire more people and collect more money, give me a break.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Aren’t the Port Authority licensing fees paid to cover the boats rather than the people operating them?

    • Boat skipper says:

      Absolutely right. Unlike the USA and the UK where there is strict licensing any idiot can buy a boat in these islands and carry passengers for hire or reward without any relevant training at all. I hold boat handling qualifications but they’ve never been checked, copies weren’t even required by immigration for my work permit applications.

      And I don’t understand why that comment is being flagged a troll. Too many idiots out there maybe?

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