February 6, 2009
Commander Cain warns beachcraft operators

Speed boat operators who are making a habit of speeding in and around beaches are being told to desist because they are breaking the law and risking lives.{{more}}

This is according to Coast Guard Commander Brendon Cain, who told SEARCHLIGHT that they have been receiving several complaints over the last few months about this problem.

He said that speed boat operators are going into popular beaches like Mt Wynne, Indian Bay and Villa and causing a disturbance to beach goers.

Commander Cain said that it is important that these operators know that according to the Power-craft Act of 1968, which was amended in 1992, operating a vessel at more than five miles per hour within 100 yards of a beach, and 10 miles per hour between 100 and 200 miles from a beach is illegal.

It is also an offence under the act to operate a power-craft, water ski and the like so as to create a nuisance to any other person or boat (whether anchored or not).

A person found guilty of an offence under this act is liable to a fine of $5,000, and the person can be prohibited from operating a power-craft for a stated period of time, and the craft can be confiscated.

Commander Cain told SEARCHLIGHT that Maritime Administration and the Fisheries Department are currently

working on a licensing system for power-craft operators, which will make the enforcing of any ban instituted for the committing of an offence related to the Act more manageable. Besides the legal ramifications, however, Cain said that the Coast Guard wanted persons to desist from this type of behaviour at the nation’s beaches because of the danger that such actions pose.

In March of 1998, Eli Slater, who was a member of the Coast Guard at the time, suffered injuries in Bequia when he and three others were knocked out of his boat by a speeding vessel about 25 feet from the jetty.

Prior to that, in 1996, Clifford Caesar was killed by a speeding boat in the Barroullie area while diving, and a similar incident occurred three years ago, when Leroy Gloster was killed off the shores of Mustique.