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Old 12-07-2010, 14:43   #1
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Diving from Your Own Boat in the Caribbean

I started another thread, where I asked about compressors aboard. Someone posted that one of the reasons they sold theirs was the following

"Over a third of the islands do not permit independant diving anymore, and some restrict snorkling as well."

Still no answer to my response, so I figured I'd start a new thread.

What I want to know is, what's your experience with the above statement?
Which islands?
How strictly is it enforced?
What are the penalties if caught?
Hell, while we're at it
What about shore diving?
Diving from the dink?
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Old 12-07-2010, 16:36   #2
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I'll add,

Is this commercially driven or environmentally driven? That could answer some of your questions.

My first thought is that the dive shops/charters got their feeling$ hurt and banded together.
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Old 12-07-2010, 16:49   #3
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Could be. I'm sure they're losing TONS of money from the handful of cruisers who dive, considering the thousands of divers who visit any one of these islands in a given year.
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Old 12-07-2010, 17:06   #4
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That sounds pretty un-enforceable unless someone is dumb enough to hawaiin flop right into the water in front of some authority figure with a scrub brush in your hand.
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Old 12-07-2010, 17:17   #5
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Enforcement is via the dive shops, who are protecting their monopoly positions.

Let me start a list, and someone can correct me:

Spanish, US, and British Virgins--you can dive on your own--maybe some fee required in the BVI, but allows you to use their dive moorings.

Saba, Statia--no diving on your own

St Lucia--OK

French Islands--there may be rules, but the French will universally ignore them, and expect you to also.

Grenada??

Tobago--lots of current, so better to drift dive with a shop.

Bonaire--pay the park fee, and get all the great diving you want
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Old 12-07-2010, 17:20   #6
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Turks and Caico's No restrictions diving on your own there.
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Old 12-07-2010, 17:28   #7
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Bonaire--pay the park fee, and get all the great diving you want
PERFECT! That's #1 on my list if was to ever become a land lubber again.
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Old 12-07-2010, 17:30   #8
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Saba, Statia for sure

Many others don't seem to care.
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Old 12-07-2010, 17:37   #9
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Saba doesn't surprise me. Very small island, the entire place is a marine park, and only 2 operators on the whole island. In their case at least, I'd say it's more for environmental reasons. They don't even take you to the deeper cooler dives, like the pinnacles, if you do a day trip there, because they want to see you on a few of the easier dives first to make sure you're not a stroke.

So, do you at least get a cheaper rate if you're using your own tanks and gas?
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Old 14-07-2010, 15:31   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donradcliffe View Post
Enforcement is via the dive shops, who are protecting their monopoly positions.

Let me start a list, and someone can correct me:

Spanish, US, and British Virgins--you can dive on your own--maybe some fee required in the BVI, but allows you to use their dive moorings.

Saba, Statia--no diving on your own

St Lucia--NO diving on your own

French Islands--there may be rules, but the French will universally ignore them, and expect you to also.

Grenada-- OK, but the dive shops like to keep the best sites a "secret"

Tobago--lots of current, so better to drift dive with a shop.

Tobago Cays are part of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines (SVG) -- NO diving on your own. SVG includes Bequia, Canouan, Mustique, Mayreau, Union and Petit Saint Vincent.

Antigua-- OK, again lots of the best sites are "secret"

Dominica-- NO diving on your own


Bonaire--pay the park fee ($25 US) tank fills are only about $5 US, and get all the great diving you want
Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 14-07-2010, 15:50   #11
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I bet this has a no brainer answer... but I keep wondering... You are on your boat. You have your gear. You have your compressor. You fill your tanks. You dive. How can that be regulated?
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Old 14-07-2010, 16:03   #12
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A lot of these islands are coming to realize that their coral reefs are a resource that need to be protected. Too many yachts have dropped too much chain on too many coral heads.

Twenty years ago the typical resort divemaster was there to serve as a guide and insure your safety. (Or at least to rescue you when you boofed.) Now, many divemasters consider their number one job to be to protect the reefs from the divers. It makes sense, because once the reef is gone, so is your job.
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Old 14-07-2010, 16:07   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sarafina View Post
I bet this has a no brainer answer... but I keep wondering... You are on your boat. You have your gear. You have your compressor. You fill your tanks. You dive. How can that be regulated?
Well like lots of things, you can get away with it most of the time, and certainly there is an aspect of the local island/business just trying to make money off of "rich" cruisers, but there is also this bit of conventional wisdom:

We are guests in their country. As such, it would be good to abide by their rules.

Fair Winds,
Mike
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Old 14-07-2010, 16:17   #14
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Originally Posted by sarafina View Post
I bet this has a no brainer answer... but I keep wondering... You are on your boat. You have your gear. You have your compressor. You fill your tanks. You dive. How can that be regulated?
We regulate some reefs here in the USA as well. Take your boat down to Whaler's Cove at Point Lobos, which was the world's first underwater park, and you're have park rangers swarming all over your boat the moment you drop the hook. They let in a certain numbers of divers a day, and restrict it to beach diving. You need to pay the park fee, you need to show the C card, and you need to get the permit.

What's happening now in diving is what's already happened in river rafting, big-wall climbing, et cetera. Too many people wanting to use the resource as a source of recreation. You want to run the Colorado River, you'll need a permit, and it's a lot harder to get one privately than through a commercial outfitter. Same thing with climbing Mount Everest. And now, that's becoming the same thing with diving much of the West Indies.
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Old 14-07-2010, 18:39   #15
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Originally Posted by sarafina View Post
I bet this has a no brainer answer... but I keep wondering... You are on your boat. You have your gear. You have your compressor. You fill your tanks. You dive. How can that be regulated?
Exactly what I'm wondering. I'm a certified diver, using all my own gear, and not running a charter (AKA: stealing their business, working illegally). Guess there's always night diving?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
A lot of these islands are coming to realize that their coral reefs are a resource that need to be protected. Too many yachts have dropped too much chain on too many coral heads.
True, but most of these reefs have moorings, with the exception of places like Coz where it's mostly drift diving. And if you're going to drop the hook and kill the reef, whether you're diving or not is really irrelevant. Also a cruiser tying up to one of those moorings for a few dives is going to do much less damage than just a single cattle boat full of buffoons who can't control their buoyancy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Twenty years ago the typical resort divemaster was there to serve as a guide and insure your safety. (Or at least to rescue you when you boofed.) Now, many divemasters consider their number one job to be to protect the reefs from the divers. It makes sense, because once the reef is gone, so is your job.
Maybe some do. Maybe enforce the no knives or gloves laws that some places have. But I've even talked my way out of that one plenty of times. Then there's the ones that harass the marine life. The ones who see said buffoon, mentioned above, running the Boston marathon across the bottom, and don't immediately escort him back to the boat, and tell him to return when he learns to dive. Then of course there's the DM's who themselves don't have great buoyancy and/or trim. I've seen plenty a DM's fin hit a sea fan.
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