Miller urges action over boat safety

| 29/08/2019 | 29 Comments
Cayman News Service
Boat damaged in fatal crash this month

(CNS): Former opposition leader and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller is urging government to act on boat safety. He said that almost four years after it accepted a motion he brought to the parliament, nothing has been implemented to tackle the problem, even after two people lost their lives and a third was critically injured following a major boat collision earlier this month in the North Sound. Miller said that deficiencies in oversight and diligence of water safety have led to a lowering of standards in local waters.

In October 2015 Miller brought a motion to the Legislative Assembly calling for the introduction of regulations under the Port Authority Law to require owners of boats larger than 21 feet and powered by 150+HP engines to pass a test on boat safety and operation and rules of navigation in Cayman waters. But although the motion gained unanimous support across both sides of the aisle, nothing has happened.

“I said during the debate on this motion… this was a situation waiting for accidents to happen and that introduction of these new safety regulations was urgent,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, since then there have been several fatal boating accidents, and despite accepting the accolades for supporting the motion, government has done nothing to address the dire situation.”

He added, “It is time for some action on this matter before there are any more of these tragic and most distressing accidents on the water.”

Miller believes that new safety regulations should be extended, requiring all boats in the Cayman Islands to register and undergo an annual inspection similar to that for vehicles, with commercial boats subject to random inspections by the maritime authority and police.

“One only has to visit Rum Point or Kaibo on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to observe the flagrant disregard of rules that should obtain in cases of overtaking, passing, approaching and departing docks, navigating to and departing from anchorage at Rum Point, and transiting to canals,” the North Side representative said.

Calling on government to adopt the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLFREG), he said that would support Cayman’s proud maritime heritage and safeguard the reputation of the of the maritime authority.

“Importantly, drilling down to the impact on boating operations, the adoption of this convention would give greater authority to MACI and the RCIPS to enforce the rules required to maintain safety on the water for all.”

Miller said enforcement officers who come across infractions on the water should also be able to issue tickets and other penalties on the spot in the same way traffic tickets are issued.

He urged the government to meet its responsibility for marking and lighting channels used by the boating public. “It is a national disgrace that government can arrange hundreds of millions of dollars to build a cruise port that is not needed but somehow it cannot find a few thousand dollars to make sure the lights on the Rum Point channel are working properly.”

He also called on divers and watersport operators to be more responsible. “It used to be that whenever you crossed a dive boat with divers in the water there was a ‘divers down’ flag flying and a lookout on the boat. Now far too often I have observed the divers down flag flying without the required accompanying lookout on the boat,” Miler said, as he called for a much more comprehensive approach to local water safety.

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Category: Local News, Politics

Comments (29)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    10x more cycling maiming/deaths than boating, with traffic congestion and parking serious problems, ever looming type 2 diabetes/cardiac healthcare costs, and yet seemingly no desire to create proper cycling infrastructure, lanes, landscaped shade, bollards, etc.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Make as many laws as you like. Nothing will change unless they are actually enforced.
    When I see the police ignoring flagrant law breaking on our roads every day it gives me no faith that any law will have any effect.
    I work with boats, and own one myself. It baffles me that so few people know even the basics of keeping a boat safe, reliable, and well maintained, never mind know how to operate one safely or responsibly.
    For a so called nation of seamen we really are pretty damn ignorant of how to behave on the sea.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Where was Ezzard when the Safety of Small Commercial Waterborne Vessels report was tabled in the LA by Alden in November 2006?

    That report, commissioned by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner, contained a damning indictment of the local watersports industry and recommended sweeping changes in the rules but it was buried without trace.

    Only the dive operators took any notice of it but I don’t think even they did very much. I remember talk of introducing RYA or similar training for diveboat skippers but it never seemed to happen.

  4. Mikey says:

    why license a trailer? it doesn’t even have a motor, it should be fine once its attached to a license and insured vehicle c’mon now

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ll bet your bicycle isn’t licensed either, criminal!

    • Anonymous says:

      Because trailers require maintenance and upkeep in order to operate safely. Bearings need to be replaced, corrosion avoided or repaired, much lilocking and mechanism need to wibe kefunctional and light need to be functional and just like a car this can only be confirmed through a license process. So no simple having a licenssed vehicle is not enough as the vehicle has nothing to do with the state of the trailer.

    • Anonymous says:

      And it helps to attach properly…
      I went with a friend to collect his boat that was sitting on a trailer in Bodden Town for a day out. As we hooked up the trailer I said “don’t you need to put a pin in that?” (on the ball hitch), he said “nah”. Not sure why I didn’t insist because I knew he was wrong.
      As we drove back towards town just outside of BT, the trailer sailed past us across the oncoming lane and ran through a barbed wire fence on the opposite side of the road. I’m not sure when the last time I felt so terrified and lucky that it didn’t kill someone either in the oncoming lane (no cars) or in someone’s front yard. That was 20 years ago and we haven’t spoken since.
      Idiot ignorant fool.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The reality is that Cayman hasn’t the logistical capacity for even the simplest tasks like printing and distributing license plates, or keep our airport parking machines working. Just a smattering of our laws are enforced at all. Near zero traffic enforcement. Boats are already required to be registered annually with port authority, but nobody does it, because the public knows it’s just a money grab for the least accountable ministry.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You can’t keep expecting the gowement to learn you boating responsibly!!! Because Caymanians do not think it applies to them!!!
    The answer, in this situation, is to prosecute the one speeding at night (probably without lights), this close to the shore, to the fullest extent of the law. Make an example out of him!! There is NO WAY this should have happened. Sick sick sick!!
    (Actually the same with the dive boat that was UNMANNED, headed towards the Kittywake dive site. People could have been killed. She got lucky!)

  7. Anonymous says:

    This should apply to all boats, including the small fishing boats with 0-149HP motors!

    These are the “captains” who go fish, or whatever, on the North Sound in the black of night, without any navigation or anchor lights, or safety gear.

    This is just plain stupidity, and they become a hazard to other water craft that are doing their part for safety and travel speed.

  8. Never Happen says:

    Sorry folks. But the truth is such.

    This GOV’T WILL NEVER pass any law regarding boating. Too many NSound Capitans (ingnoramous blind weed heads) lobbying (Paying) for it NOT TO HAPPEN.

    The other is that there is NO finacial gain in it for them. Straight talk.

    Just like the Standards In Public Life law, it wont happen by them.

    But there is a silver lining here. At least the history books WILL show that THEY (Named MLAs) dropped the ball for greed.

    In fact I can rest assured that they, collectivly ( Full Party Inclusive) do not have what it takes to pass these two laws by December, even though the hard work has been done for years.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I remember listening to an MLA when this subject came up previously that it was the expats who needed boater safety training because Caymanians are natural born seamen.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s correct. Few come here that has ever been in a boat before much less have ever driven one. Laws and regulations needed to protect the public now. Drinking and operating a boat should be a crime.

      • Anonymous says:

        9:20 Whilst on vacation here I asked about working in the Caymans Islands. I’ve got RYA and BSAC qualifications along with a lot of diveboat experience but the response I got was along the lines of, ‘You don’t need any of that c*** to work here.’ That wasn’t from any ex-pat, it was from a locally owned and run company. Speaking to ex-pats in the watersports business apparently it’s always been like that. They reckon that virtually nobody running the Stingray City boats has any proper qualifications and many don’t speak English or understand even the basic protocols for managing an emergency. Quite scary and killed any thoughts I had along those lines. One place I worked in you needed a licence to operate any boat with a engine over 14HP while at a couple of others they had rigid boating DUI rules and licensing systems that allowed the authorities to treat boat operators just like car drivers.

        • Anonymous says:

          And what was the accident rate in those countries with the strict vessel licencing requirements?

          • Anonymous says:

            I’d say minimal and when there were incidents the authorities were on the job – not like here where they rock up long after it’s all gone down. I remember at one Red Sea location a good friend of mine clipped a coral head with a diveboat while doing a film shoot. He was arrested, the boat was impounded, he was blood tested for drug/alcohol impairment and his employer was later fined the local equivalent of $10,000. Can you imagine that happening in the Cayman Islands? I don’t think so.

            It’s like the issue with jet skis. I’ve seen tourists pulled over at gun point for doing the kind of stunts you see off SMB. They were then arrested and went through a similar processing to that above.

            1:10 People who post daft comments like that are in denial. Get real. This is one big accident waiting to happen.

  10. Fed Up North Sider says:

    While he’s at it, perhaps he could also push for a stronger police presence and road blocks in his district during the weekends as it has become a magnet for illicit activities!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Whenever we propose new laws or regulations we need to clearly demonstrate that we have the tools and human resources in place to enforce those laws or regulations.

  12. Philip says:

    Ezzard, just checking to see if your aware that inside of 200 yards its 5MPH zone that also applies to the Starfish Point area? , i have seen you many times passing by at cruising speed inside of 200 yards.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Yes Ezzard!

  14. Anonymous says:

    i am a native and i agree with ezzard on this 110%. especially north sound…too dangerous on weekends….i refuse to take my boat out there.. it aint called rum point for nothing…😯😢

    • Anonymous says:

      We don’t like debby downers there anyways. Keep it moving!

    • In memory of PC 185 Luke says:

      This was proposed in 2002-2003 by the then Drugs Task Force Marine unit Command and in conjunction with the Port Authority after a number of safety incidents & serious accidents It was actually in preparation stages with the view to look at drafting and amending and revising existing laws.Meetings were held at the then Glass house only to be killed off by then Minister of Tourism ?…..? on some flimsy whim and excuse because of revenue generating aspects of the proposal.All involved with these proposal and preparatory work and research were very disappointed but not surprised with the response and subsequent in action of the Leader of Gowerment Bizzness! just a small foot note PC Mark Luke input at time was putting marine offense ticket together for the proposal.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Ezzard, we have the laws requiring ALL trailers to be licensed, insured, have lights, etc. This has existed for decades. Yet there are maybe 50 trailers that are fully compliant. I doubt that even the RCIPS trailers are compliant. Why impose more requirements for a handful of persons to comply????????????????


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