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Safety Campaign: Boating and Propeller Accident Prevention


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#1 ljohnson

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 12:29 PM

HI friends,

In recent threads there has been a lot of discussion regarding safety during aquatic activities and concern regarding possible boating/propeller incidents involving swimmers, divers, and snorkelers. Dr. Dario Gomez of Divers Alert Network is currently organizing the safety campaign on the island to prevent such accidents. This campaign is based on creating awareness among not only boat captains, but also anyone who engages in water activities where possible boat traffic might occur. Everyone can help us make this campaign grow and help prevent those unnecessary accidents in the future. There is a free seminar on Wed. April 28 at 7pm in the Centro de Salud (Hospital General) on Av 11 and Calle 20. We'll provide decals, posters, sodas, and snacks. Come out to learn how you can support this initiative and make water activities safer for everyone on the island. Please invite everyone you know that is a boat captain, diver, dive instructor or dive master, snorkel guide, snorkeler, and frequent swimmer in areas with boat traffic. This seminar will be held in Spanish, but we will be giving out awareness materials in both English and Spanish. If you are not able to attend but would like free materials, please let me know.

See you there!

Laura

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#2 Charles

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 02:03 PM

Maybe this could be dedicated to Kirsty MacColl, certainly the most famous person to be run over and killed in a boating accident here. It would be a nice touch if Mega supplied the sodas and snacks as that would be more than what Guillermo Gonzales Nova has done so far. http://en.wikipedia..../Kirsty_MacColl http://www.justiceforkirsty.org/


http://www.justicefo...tter_to_GGN.htm An open letter from Kirsty's mom that Gonzales refuse to accept or acknowledge.

A peon deck hand was found guilty of culpable homicide and Josť Cen Yam received a prison sentence of 2 1/2 years (possibly maximum sentence 7 yrs), but was allowed to pay a punitive fine of $1034 pesos in lieu of the prison sentence, over one peso for each day! In addition he was forced to pay restitution of $2100 DOLLARS to the family. Quite a hefty sum for a peon salaried worker to pay when all he had done was to speed through a dive zone at either one knot or 45 kts.

There is a lesson to be learned here, don't swim or dive when billionaires are speed boating in the area and for those among the "Mega" rich, best not to let your lowest paid peon captain your ship.
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#3 dawnb

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 09:07 PM

Laura, thanks so much for the info. For those of us who are frequent visitors/snorkelers to the island but are unable to be there for the meeting, is there any way you could post the info for download? Boats have come way too close for comfort!

Thanks!
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#4 diverdicozumel

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 09:21 PM

Charles,

I totally agree, this event should be dedicated to Kirsty. Her family has gone through hell. The tragedy is one I remember on every ascent to the boat. A book recently published by Kirsty's Mother, "Sun on the Water", reveals that it was not the employee, but Gonzalez himself who was driving the boat. The poor man accused, was promised a house on the island and land in Cozumel. Gonzalez never made good on the promises. The accused has since left the island. It is a dark history I think of every time I go to Mega.

Diana
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#5 Charles

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 01:30 AM

Adapted from Sun On The Water: The Brilliant Life And Tragic Death Of MacColl by Jean MacColl,
http://www.dailymail...er-justice.html


http://vdare.com/mis...01_horowitz.htm

Amazing how an illiterate peon deck hand could have qualified as a captain. The entire judicial process was s sick joke. He said it was the first time he had driven the boat, Gonzales claimed the man had been driving it for five years. When U2 toured Mexico, Bono reignited the campaign.

How appropriate that this event be held at Centro Salud where Kristy's body had been taken. I can't even describe the photos and situation printed in Por Esto, it was so far below their normal shocking standards, I could only hope her family never saw the photographs, thankfully they were not in color.

I shop in Mega on a limited basis and try to buy everything that I can elsewhere. Resistence to the Gonzalez opening a Commercial Mexicana has a long history and the property secured for Mega only added insult to the entire affair.
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#6 ljohnson

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 05:11 PM

HI dawnb,

I did include one attachment in my original post that you can download that describes the campaign. We have posters and decals that help remind people of the basic idea behind it: Keeping a minimum distance between people in the water and boat traffic. I'll also attach one of the decals so you will know what they look like. I also have posters and decals in both languages. If you want to come by sometime and pick some up let me know. I hope that we'll start seeing these posted everywhere soon...boats, marinas, shops, etc.

~~Laura

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#7 dawnb

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 07:06 PM

Thanks Laura! Is there an English version? My Spanish sucks, I can pick out a few words but that's it. Hope to be back in July. Great idea!

What a horrible thing to happen to Kristy.

Dawn
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#8 nauticab

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Posted 17 April 2010 - 09:41 PM

i would be happy to have some in my store to give out. all my customers (im talking about 99%) are the captains and mates of cozumel. and they would put them on their boats, motos, cars, etc.
how can i get them? or, if you have a bunch, can you drop them off at the store when you are near???
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#9 mslf500

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 06:17 AM

Excellent!

I will be on the island that week and make sure our dive op is aware of this meeting. Perhaps there could be a sticker for the boat cockpit stating they are participating in this safety endeavor? Give it a catchy name or acronym?

As much as I despise government intervention in a lot of things, this could be a safety rule or recommendation for all ops to follow.
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#10 CZMDM

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Posted 18 April 2010 - 11:40 AM

Hate to be the naysayer, but without some type of enforcement I really doubt the effectiveness of any boating safety campaign. We have way too many Captains violating the most basic boating principals every day of the week. I think most people out there know right from wrong but chose to operate in an unsafe manner. Safe boating is mostly common sense and common sense is severly lacking at the reefs. Boats are flying over the reefs, when they should be to the side of them. Huge boats passing smaller craft at high speed in very close proximity. Boats weaving in and out of snorkelers with props running. Nobody ever gives a damn to the international law of proximity to diver down flags. Many local captains seem to think that passing a boat by only a couple of meters at high speed is some kind of sign of great captain-ship. Anyway, without some actual enforcement I doubt that we will see any changes soon.
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#11 ljohnson

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:47 AM

HI Nauticab,

I'd be happy to bring some by your shop. I'll try to drop them off today. Thanks for your help!

~~Laura
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#12 ljohnson

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 08:52 AM

HI Dawnb,

I do have English versions of the poster and decal (which look almost identical but differ in size). I don't have them in electronic files though...just actual posters and decals. I'd be happy to save some of each for you until you can come by and pick them up. The seminar announcement and summary is only available in Spanish right now, and I'm not good enough to translate it properly.

~~Laura
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#13 Charles

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Posted 19 April 2010 - 02:23 PM

Agreed Mike, how many locals, how many boat captains don't know the rules here. Some of the rules are valid for the special circumstances encountered in Cozumel, many of the rules are just basic common sense. If stupidity was a crime, we could lock up half the people for violating Darwin's evolution thought.

Since locals that know the rules, often play games with "quien mas macho" and the Marine Park rules aren't even enforced regarding illegal fishing, poaching by boats that obey the water craft regulations.

One item of safety that could be addressed is that I regularly see people seeking information regarding rental equipment for doing their own shore dives. I am a very experienced diver, I have logged over 100 dives the last ten years in seven places, I just want to do my own shore diving from close to my hotel. Why should I have the added expense of paying for a boat and the services of a dive master that I don't need or want. If I can just rent equipment, I can do twice the diving and pay half the price. My buddy wants to go too on some of the dives and he has his own wet suit.

I used to see Paradise Reef like a parking lot on a busy day. More boats than Chedraui would have cars during a half off sale. What a wonderful place to have a marina. If the new and improved marina project actually manages to attract the "Mega" rich with their assorted speed boats and assorted toys that go with their "Mega" yachts, just how will the situation be handled with newcomers that have no knowledge of Cozumel and even if cautious and generally respectful of common sense and International rules.....oh by the way, be real careful even if you are staying within marked channels, obey speed rules and no wake zones as given the extreme currents and the vast numbers, divers may be scattered everywhere.

Would rules address topless model type sunbathers that want to sunbath on deck and recline against the windshield in front of the driver? Would clothing optional boats either present a distraction or blind other captains? Is it a fair trade if we can attract some more "Megas" to come here if we don't lose too many regular people or no one too famous?

There are always the Darwin award crowd among the tourists. The worst case I personally witnessed was when a honeymoon couple (drunk of course) decided to do a swan dive off the top of the Fiesta Party boat and the newly wed wife got sucked into the propellers which severed her femoral artery. At least it was fast and she was gone when they quickly got her from the water right next to where I was sitting in beached boat. It sort of ruined my whole afternoon, but I found it amazing that most everyone carried on as before and the beach volley ball game continued barely 25 feet away while feeble attempts of the impossible to resuscitate someone about seven pints low on blood.

To help avoid propeller accidents, I'd suggest strong measures to discourage excessive drinking while swimming, snorkeling, using water toys etc at the assorted party beach clubs when you never know when a local boat captain wants the attention of someone showing off her brand new 44DDs.

No enforcement with teeth, they might as well just say "pretty please".
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#14 ljohnson

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 08:36 AM

HI Friends,

Dr. Gomez has translated the info sheet into English for us so you can see the details of this campaign. I'll upload it as a PDF document. You're also welcome to join us on Wed. April 28 at 7:00pm in the Auditorium of the General Hospital.

~~Laura

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#15 dawnb

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Posted 22 April 2010 - 01:30 PM

Nice job Laura! Thanks for the info!

I have always found that doing something is better than doing nothing. If this campaign increases awareness for one boat captain, and saves one tourist's femoral artery, then it is probably worth it.

You go girl!!!
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#16 Carey

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 05:48 AM

I agree, Dawn. Laura, you can only do what you can. Just because the situation is a bit discouraging to say the least, that's no reason not to try. I expect this will save lives. But the subject makes an interesting thread one of the main themes of which seems to be the radical machismo factor that is part of the package with many capis here. Macheesey-isimo.
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#17 mslf500

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 06:08 AM

I think it should be incumbent with every diver who makes a reservation or chats up the DM or Capitan that they ask, "Are you participating in the boat safety awareness campaign?....Really, why not?" If they are, then thank them and tell them that's one of the reasons you dive with them.

If it gets asked enough, then the operators will take note and use it as a marketing tool. Sort of like how everyone says they are "green"? Allow them to use the logo on their websites and boats if they take the safety class.

My point about developing an acronym, say "PROP" as an example, makes it easier for the divers to raise the question and easy to recognize. Boats that agree to the rules of the road, would get to place the sticker on the boat as a participant. Make it a marketing opportunity for the dive ops.

When I drop my gear off with my dive op on Sunday, I fully intend to ask if they plan to participate in it.

I'm a little sensitive about this as I had two boats blow past me in January while snorkeling just North of Chankanaab from a private boat. The people in the boat had to wave the two boats off.

I just emailed the two dive ops I used about this and asked them to participate. When people ask me for recommendations, I will base part of my recommendation on who agrees to the program. There. I just made it in my dive ops' best interest to participate. Piece of cake. Those that read this board should ask the same of their ops.
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#18 Carey

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 06:42 AM

I think that's a good idea, Mark. The old alignment of interests where everybody wins. Except the macho capis who aren't going to like having their style cramped I'll wager.
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#19 CZMDM

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 06:44 AM

I am sorry to disagree, but the boat awareness thing and not using op's that don't participate....it's turning into a political thing apparently. I am a safe boater. Why would I want or should be forced to take more seminars from people who have nowhere near the time on the water as I do (along with many other good captains), especially since I have never in over 30 years of piloting a boat had one bad incident (other than scary weather related stuff)? When you receive a Captains license you have already been through a boating safety program far more detailed than a couple hour seminar. The guys that are doing dangerous things are going to continue to do them until the Park or the Captain of the Port takes action. No amount of classwork or seminars can make a good captain out of a person who has no interest in safety. Until some arrests are made and some boats are seized this will continue. A campaign like this IMHO is just like the bumper sticker mentality of "just say no to drugs".

If you think your op is not safe use another one. There are both good and bad Captains just like there are good and bad DM's. Everytime an accident occurs we start hearing about every DM on the island having to take this course or that course. This is not fair to the good guys. If you see bad boating write down the boats name, number and report them to the Captain of the Port.

One other thought...this is a local problem. When people from the outside are brought in to change things that locals must deal with you are going to run into a lot of resentment. It needs to be handled from within and it needs to be handled in a firm manner. I think just about every person who has lived here for a long time will tell you they are tired of outsiders coming down and demanding that locals do this or that. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard an American say "we are going to show these guys down here how to do it", I would be rich.
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#20 Carey

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Posted 23 April 2010 - 07:32 AM

If you see bad boating write down the boats name, number and report them to the Captain of the Port.

Now there's a good idea that would really work if enough divers are willing to be aware and participate. I'd like to see a campaign like that get going. If the bad capis get enough bad reports on them, we can hope the Captain of the Port will take action.


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