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Old 01-09-2011, 05:39   #46
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

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Originally Posted by brak View Post
"Finding himself in the midst of divers" is the violation. He should not have "found himself" there. Those dive flags were on the surface all the time. It is a responsibility of a captain to post appropriate lookout.

Now, if these were not dive flags but multiple rocks sticking out of the water - do you think he'd be going through that opening?
Bridge pilings, currents and traffic does not make this situation cut and dried. Once you're committed to traversing a span, it's pretty tough to back out.

I agree with others that he should have used the main channel, but other than that, it's very likely he did not see the dive flags until it was too late. I think anyone looking at the video would have to conclude that.
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:22   #47
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

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Bridge pilings, currents and traffic does not make this situation cut and dried. Once you're committed to traversing a span, it's pretty tough to back out.

I agree with others that he should have used the main channel, but other than that, it's very likely he did not see the dive flags until it was too late. I think anyone looking at the video would have to conclude that.
If you look at the very start of the video you would see that the dive boat associated with the divers was actually in the main channel puttering around, this could have influenced the skippers decision.

If you look further into the video you would see that he didnt run them over at speed he floated over them in a confused sort of way. Whether in gear or not, we do not know.

Diving within meters of a main traversing channel, dive boat floating around in the main channel.... mmmm.......

Well anyway, I might have done the same.

Then I could imagine myself saying oops and taking my boat out of gear and floating over them slowly just as it looks in the video.
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Old 01-09-2011, 13:33   #48
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

"Sir, there was a diving boat in the main channel. Therefore, I elected to go under an adjacent span to avoid possible divers. I proceeded at a dead-slow speed. The small diver flags were not apparent until I was nearly upon them. Turning, reversing, or adding power appeared unwise. A turning propeller could cause injury to the divers, and the divers could best avoid me if I didn't suddenly change course. So, I drifted on a straight course. There were no injuries or damages, so I proceeded on my way."
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Old 01-09-2011, 13:48   #49
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You did the something I would have done. Glad everyone is ok
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Old 02-09-2011, 15:11   #50
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

It's funny that as concerned as everybody was it doesn't appear anybody wrote down the name of the boat.
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:06   #51
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Re: Sailboat runs over divers

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Originally Posted by tager View Post
Perhaps swimming in a channel is not a good idea, ever think of that?
They weren't diving in the channel. That boat came through on the other side of the pylons that border the channel. Instead of bearing right through the channel he came left into an area that was not the channel. But he should have stopped when he saw the flags regardless. Look towards the end of the video, just before they break to the dive shop and you will see another sailboat come out of the channel itself.
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:43   #52
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Re: Sailboat runs over divers

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Originally Posted by tager View Post
Perhaps swimming in a channel is not a good idea, ever think of that?
But he wasn't in the channel, the wooden pilings marking the channel and protecting the bridge columns from a strike are to his starboard.

He needs a lesson in basic piloting ..... sheesh!
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:47   #53
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

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Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
"Sir, there was a diving boat in the main channel. Therefore, I elected to go under an adjacent span to avoid possible divers. I proceeded at a dead-slow speed. The small diver flags were not apparent until I was nearly upon them. Turning, reversing, or adding power appeared unwise. A turning propeller could cause injury to the divers, and the divers could best avoid me if I didn't suddenly change course. So, I drifted on a straight course. There were no injuries or damages, so I proceeded on my way."
You still don't traverse the bridge out of the channel unless your vessel is at risk ... get on the horn (literally) or the VHF and get the dive boat to move ... then continue on your way.
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:12   #54
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

Interesting that a forum full of cruisers is so fast to damn the sailboat. The divers in the vid remind me of the bicyclists who ride full in the traffic lanes with “just like a car” printed on their Tshirts.

A dive flag does not give you ownership of that water! Unless an exclusion zone is declared by the CG and LNM broadcast is made, that water is open to everyone.

A couple weeks ago, I was rounding Flemming Key off Key West, and the Army Spec Force guys were doing a training dive. The dive boat and flags were 500 yards away (1/4 mile), and some goober on a gray jet ski comes thundering up to me in my sailboat (under sail, no aux running) SCREAMING at me that “this water is closed to boat traffic, dive operations are being conducted”; he wanted me to come about and wait on them! I asked if that was them (indicating the boat and flags), and he said yes. I said OK, and held course and speed. Shortly later a Gray 30’ Go-Fast approached at 50kts, again screaming at me to stop! I said “shoot me if you want; we are already past and they are still 400 yards away”.

Fast forward 20 minutes, and a USCG RIB pulls alongside. By now we were in the Garrison Bight Channel (about 50’ wide).... The Coxswain agrees it would not be a safe spot for a boarding and follows us to our slip. When all tied up, the CG crew asks if we know what the stop is for.... I said “Uh, the Army doesn’t know what the dive flag laws are?”. He laughed and said that they’ve tried to educate them, but it didn’t work. “They think they own the water as soon as they haul up the flag... not true” (his words)

Bottom line, I got a free inspection which was passed with flying colors, as well as a direct phone number to contact them in the future, so they don’t have to respond. Seems there is a bit of an inter-service pissin’ match going on about this issue.

So, in ref to the situation in the OP I see the boat captain having done nothing wrong... the flags were not visible until he was committed, once observed, he followed the law and made the best of the situation... I don’t know that any prudent skipper would have handled it better. As to the issue of not transiting the main channel, absenting PRIOR knowledge of a hazard, he had no reason NOT to use it.

Any diver/bicyclist/motorcycle rider who relies ENTIRELY on being within the law for their own safety is a FOOL! But at least they can DIE with the comfort of thinking that they were not at fault.

[/SOAPBOX]
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Old 04-09-2011, 12:26   #55
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

First of all they were not in the channel.

Second, just because a dive boat was there, doesn't mean it was associated with those divers. The inlet is very close to that bridge. And as others have said, this is a "shore diving" spot. Hence, no dive boats. And having a small boat for surface support isn't necessary for a dive this shallow, and would do nothing but cause a HUGE CF considering how many divers are normally in the water at any given time.

Also a DM or instructor in charge of the group? Are you kidding me? I know it's customary to have a DM holding hands, when diving from a boat in resort locations, but it's not a requirement, certified divers are responsible for their own safety, and who says they're part of a club. Last I checked you don't need to be in a club to go diving.

It looked to me like there were dive flags. Also the 24" minimum size that someone quoted, is for flags displayed aboard vessels. The minimum size for a flag towed from a buoy by a diver is only 12 x 12.

Lastly, for those of you don't think the divers had any business being there, here's a little more info about this site. To call it a popular site is an understatement. This is probably the most dove spot in the entire state of Florida. It's also considered one of the best dives on the entire East Coast. Due the gulf stream's proximity to shore, and the inlet being right there, this spot has way more species than you see anywhere else, including many that aren't indigenous to the area. Also, what you can't see from the video, is the GIANT park under the bridge, and the big beach to the South, and depending on the day, hundreds of people in the park, and dozens of divers, swimmers, and snorkelers getting in and out of the water. And very likely, tons of other dive flags being towed around.

I've both dove under and navigated my boat under this bridge. I chose to go between the main fenders, like you're supposed to.

Interesting to me capngeo, how many non divers who aren't familiar with the area, are so fast to damn the divers. For the record there's plenty of dumb non boating divers out there, and dumb boating ones (like the Army guys you encountered), and I'm often on the other side of the argument, when these types of threads come up on scubaboard.
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Old 04-09-2011, 14:56   #56
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

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Originally Posted by capngeo View Post
Interesting that a forum full of cruisers is so fast to damn the sailboat. The divers in the vid remind me of the bicyclists who ride full in the traffic lanes with “just like a car” printed on their Tshirts.

A dive flag does not give you ownership of that water! Unless an exclusion zone is declared by the CG and LNM broadcast is made, that water is open to everyone.

A couple weeks ago, I was rounding Flemming Key off Key West, and the Army Spec Force guys were doing a training dive. The dive boat and flags were 500 yards away (1/4 mile), and some goober on a gray jet ski comes thundering up to me in my sailboat (under sail, no aux running) SCREAMING at me that “this water is closed to boat traffic, dive operations are being conducted”; he wanted me to come about and wait on them! I asked if that was them (indicating the boat and flags), and he said yes. I said OK, and held course and speed. Shortly later a Gray 30’ Go-Fast approached at 50kts, again screaming at me to stop! I said “shoot me if you want; we are already past and they are still 400 yards away”.

Fast forward 20 minutes, and a USCG RIB pulls alongside. By now we were in the Garrison Bight Channel (about 50’ wide).... The Coxswain agrees it would not be a safe spot for a boarding and follows us to our slip. When all tied up, the CG crew asks if we know what the stop is for.... I said “Uh, the Army doesn’t know what the dive flag laws are?”. He laughed and said that they’ve tried to educate them, but it didn’t work. “They think they own the water as soon as they haul up the flag... not true” (his words)

Bottom line, I got a free inspection which was passed with flying colors, as well as a direct phone number to contact them in the future, so they don’t have to respond. Seems there is a bit of an inter-service pissin’ match going on about this issue.

So, in ref to the situation in the OP I see the boat captain having done nothing wrong... the flags were not visible until he was committed, once observed, he followed the law and made the best of the situation... I don’t know that any prudent skipper would have handled it better. As to the issue of not transiting the main channel, absenting PRIOR knowledge of a hazard, he had no reason NOT to use it.

Any diver/bicyclist/motorcycle rider who relies ENTIRELY on being within the law for their own safety is a FOOL! But at least they can DIE with the comfort of thinking that they were not at fault.

[/SOAPBOX]

I'm one of the Special Forces guys you're so carefree with ... and it doesn't strike me as odd that they might have been operating so far from their dive boat ... when I went thru the underwater swimmers course (back in the 70's), it was par for the course to do two and three kilometer underwater compass swims and my graduation swim was ten miles. The boat tenders are there to protect the divers while they do their training. How unfortunate it upset you that they were trying to qualify themselves in an area where you want to operate. So while they don't "own" the water, neither do you, and common courtesy would ask your forbearance so they don't end up as a training casualty ... god knows that there are enough people trying to kill them when they go to the "sand box" or other operational areas. In the end, common sense should rule; unlike Capn Ron, who thinks everyone'll get out of the way cuz that's what he learned driving the Saratoga, I prefer to rely on logic and caution ....

As for this thread, I made no comment about the divers; my comments related specifically to using the established channel to transit the bridge and the ordinary care sailors should use when other vessels are blocking or transiting an area that requires a close quarters passage.
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Old 04-09-2011, 15:31   #57
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

UWOA, I take back what I said. Just out of curiosity, though, why doesn't the dive boat trail the divers, like it would on a drift dive? I'm guessing you're on breathers, which would make it a little difficult?

Also, why the need to close off such a large area? At that point in your training isn't it treated as a technical dive (AKA: virtual overhead environment) to simulate real life, where surfacing out in the open is going to jeopardize your mission? Just a curiosity question from a non military diver, who sold the breather to pay for the boat, and saw that Discovery special about the SEAL training.
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Old 04-09-2011, 21:10   #58
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

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UWOA, I take back what I said. Just out of curiosity, though, why doesn't the dive boat trail the divers, like it would on a drift dive? I'm guessing you're on breathers, which would make it a little difficult?

Also, why the need to close off such a large area? At that point in your training isn't it treated as a technical dive (AKA: virtual overhead environment) to simulate real life, where surfacing out in the open is going to jeopardize your mission? Just a curiosity question from a non military diver, who sold the breather to pay for the boat, and saw that Discovery special about the SEAL training.
I can only speak for the training I went through; I'm sure it has changed a lot from when I went (For example, we didn't have BCs then, just UDT vests; while we trained on mixed gas (CCR1000) and closed circuit rebreathers, the majority of the training was with twin 72's and two stage double hose regulators ... which was fun during parascuba drops when you factor in that the bellyband and the diagonals had to be extended to put the 'chute over the SCUBA gear.) Anyway, during mission training you wouldn't have a boat trail because it might convey ... by keeping steerage in the general direction ... where the swimmers were supposed to go, and as has been said, the prop sound would also carry through the water, adding to the confusion and altering mission parameters. While the divers shouldn't surface, most training protocols would provide for emergency surfacing and recovery if a trainee buddy team suffered an injury or equipment malfunction. In that event even though you're trained to make a safe emergency ascent (no more than 60' per minute with hand/arm over the head to broach the surface - it wouldn't take into account the hazard from a sailing vessel [no prop sound] on a collision course.

Looking back on your "large area" it also came to me that 'large' is a relative term. During training and certain operations it was routine to lock out of a sub or drop off an LCM more than five miles off the coast and swim in (that carrying your swim gear and towing operational equipment for over the beach missions. (God, I wish I was still in that kind of shape ....)
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Old 04-09-2011, 22:12   #59
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Re: Sailboat Runs Over Divers

Did they get hit? No.
Do divers have any special rights? No.
Does a dive flag reserve any water? No.

I sail in diver infested areas, and I dive. I assume the diver has a HIGHLY visible mark when near the surface and allow about 2 meters of clearance. Dive boats have the same policy. Tough luck divers, keep your heads down.
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