Snorkeling and Boat Safety – Recently there has been one too many injuries resulting from man meeting boat. I can tell you that the boat will win every time.  If the impact of it hitting you does not cause you harm, the propeller surely will.  Safety in the water cannot always be the responsibility of the boat operator.  Yes, they are to look out for snorkellers and swimmers.  And yes, they are to refrain from speeding in harbours and National Parks areas, especially in designated snorkelling areas.  And yes, they should not be boating close to the reefs and beaches… but the fact remains that sometimes they do and we need to prepare for that.

When snorkelling away from a beach, try to have a signalling device, such as a life ring with a dive flag tethered to a line, floating along with you.  Anything with bright colours that floats will help mark the area in which you find yourself.  A dive flag displayed either on the boat from which you are snorkelling or on the land near the area in which you are snorkelling can help alert the boat operator that you are in the water.  If you should hear or see a boat heading toward you, try to swim closer to the shallow part of the reef or land. Swim toward your boat if it is close by.  If there is no time, dive down underwater and try to swim away from the direction from which the boat is coming. Remember:  Circumstances dictate actions.

Large and small boats such as dinghies will have a “kill switch” that can be attached to the operator.  This is a safety device that needs be used at all times when operating a boat. If the operator falls overboard, the kill switch will shut down the engine. Swim away from the moving boat if you fall overboard and the boat is in motion.  Do not try to jump in or climb onto a moving boat or dinghy. It’s not worth risking your life. Serious injury can occur if you slip under the boat.  Your life jacket will keep you afloat until help arrives.

Be safe and be smart when operating a boat or swimming.

Safe boating always,
Mark Wollner