St. Maarten Minister announces additional safety measures for special purpose water craft

POSTED: 10/28/11 11:28 AM

St. Maarten – Due to a number of recent waterborne accidents, Government has introduced additional temporary safety measures according to the Water Sports Ordinance, AB 1978 nr. 13. The Ordinance applies to all water sport activities, in the broadest sense of the word. The definition non rider applies to the term water skier.

Special Purpose Water Craft (SPWC) are not allowed to operate in any harbour, bay or inland water when there is at least one warship, large yacht, passenger or cruise ship in the respective harbour, bay or inland water, in port, moored or at anchor. SPWC used for commercial purposes are exempted from this rule once they are in the approved area of water and under the operating parameters as designated by the Maritime Authority which is the Shipping Inspectorate.
Water sports recreation is a source of income for a number of small businesses on the island. There are also a number of residential recreational users who own watercraft. These two groups are the ones who must take note of these temporary safety measures.
Motorized SPWC, driven by an internal combustion engine, must have an approved engine stopping mechanism; a throttle limiter installed if the total engine cylinder volume is more than 700 cubic centimetres, to the satisfaction of the Marine Authority. The Marine Authority may at any time add additional or change safety requirements and operational parameters to any craft, especially those unforeseen in the future.
No operator license is required if the SPWC remains afloat on the surface and does not travel faster than 10km per hour. This also applies to small boats and tenders less than 16 feet, providing no wake is caused – or must remain under the direct accompanied supervision of a guide in the employment of an official water sport company and then only in a ratio of 1:5.

All underwater activities must display a diver flag or dive float – alpha – clearly indicating their presence to other users on the surface. The minimum age for a rider is sixteen (16), accompanied by an adult of minimum 18 years and the minimum age of a professional, insured guide is 21-years. All SPWC operating outside Simpson Bay Lagoon must have a certificate of seaworthiness, issued by the Maritime Authority. All water sport entities must ensure that riders and non riders comply with the ordinance otherwise the SPWC will be confiscated and forfeited.
The changes to the Ordinance will be available shortly for review on the Government website: www.sintmaartengov.org.

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