Boating Safety

October 1st, 2010
by Patrick Flynn

[private] Patrick Flynn Boating SafetyThere have been many near misses and accidents with boats originating from the lack of law enforcement on boating safety by our local authorities.  How many of the privately owned boats on Utila transporting clients would actually pass any form of safety requirements?  How many boats have approved life jackets on board?  Sun Jam was a busy time for all the boats on Utila wanting to cash in on the transportation of tourists to Water Cay.  We observed and appreciated the Port Captain on the dock limiting the amount of passengers per boat, and we hope that more attention would be given to boating safety in the future.

It’s no surprise to hear about the accidents with boats running at night with no lights.  On Utila no established requirements exist for operating a power driven boat shorter than 40 feet. Anyone, regardless of knowledge or discipline, is able to get behind the wheel, causing accidents resulting in injury, death, and destruction of property, without worrying about any legal consequences.

How many must be killed or injured in boating accidents before something is done? Before safe boating laws are enforced to protect the passengers, captain, vessel and property?  Before authorities investigate the accident’s cause properly instead of sweeping such things under the carpet?  Today’s watercrafts can exceed speeds of 70 MPH. When one falls off the watercraft at that speed, the water feels the pavement.   I have been in the water sports business since 1977 and have seen just about every form of accident. Things happen fast on the water. If a person is not wearing the proper safety vests or qualified to operate a watercraft, having knowledge of first aid and life saving techniques, the results may become life-threatening.

The laws of Honduras do not protect the victims. A recent boating accident on Utila put a young man in the hospital in San Pedro Sula. He has been forced to hire an attorney to go after the owner of the boat and the operator just to recover some of his expenses. He will most likely never recover not only physically but financially from the medical expenses incurred due to someone else’s negligence. The question concerning this accident is simple.  What if this individual had died?  What would the government and the office of the Fiscal have done about this accident and his death?  It should be documented as attempted vehicular homicide.  This alone is enough to detain the person responsible for the accident.

Utila’s primary source of income is derived from tourists. A boating incident could very easily be centered on a water taxi full of tourists. This is the age of electronics and Utila depends on electronic communication to attract or detract potential clients from Utila. We must get a head of the game and set rules and regulations for the protection of everyone.  It’s not rocket science folks.  Safety rules and regulations have already been developed and in place in other countries.  We can do the same on Utila.  Safety must   become a priority before things get out of hand.

here have been many near misses and accidents with boats originating from the lack of law enforcement on boating safety by our local authorities.  How many of the privately owned boats on Utila transporting clients would actually pass any form of safety requirements?  How many boats have approved life jackets on board?  Sun Jam was a busy time for all the boats on Utila wanting to cash in on the transportation of tourists to Water Cay.  We observed and appreciated the Port Captain on the dock limiting the amount of passengers per boat, and we hope that more attention would be given to boating safety in the future.
It’s no surprise to hear about the accidents with boats running at night with no lights.  On Utila no established requirements exist for operating a power driven boat shorter than 40 feet. Anyone, regardless of knowledge or discipline, is able to get behind the wheel, causing accidents resulting in injury, death, and destruction of property, without worrying about any legal consequences.
How many must be killed or injured in boating accidents before something is done? Before safe boating laws are enforced to protect the passengers, captain, vessel and property?  Before authorities investigate the accident’s cause properly instead of sweeping such things under the carpet?  Today’s watercrafts can exceed speeds of 70 MPH. When one falls off the watercraft at that speed, the water feels the pavement.   I have been in the water sports business since 1977 and have seen just about every form of accident. Things happen fast on the water. If a person is not wearing the proper safety vests or qualified to operate a watercraft, having knowledge of first aid and life saving techniques, the results may become life-threatening.
The laws of Honduras do not protect the victims. A recent boating accident on Utila put a young man in the hospital in San Pedro Sula. He has been forced to hire an attorney to go after the owner of the boat and the operator just to recover some of his expenses. He will most likely never recover not only physically but financially from the medical expenses incurred due to someone else’s negligence. The question concerning this accident is simple.  What if this individual had died?  What would the government and the office of the Fiscal have done about this accident and his death?  It should be documented as attempted vehicular homicide.  This alone is enough to detain the person responsible for the accident.
Utila’s primary source of income is derived from tourists. A boating incident could very easily be centered on a water taxi full of tourists. This is the age of electronics and Utila depends on electronic communication to attract or detract potential clients from Utila. We must get a head of the game and set rules and regulations for the protection of everyone.  It’s not rocket science folks.  Safety rules and regulations have already been developed and in place in other countries.  We can do the same on Utila.  Safety must   become a priority before things get out of hand.

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