The meeting hosted by the US Coast Guard Sector Key West was, as usual, mostly bad news. The Coast Guard personnel were great and tried very hard to be helpful and positive. They don’t make most of these rules, Congress does. The Coast Guard is the messenger and the enforcer and it’s hard to NOT translate that into them being the bad guys. I can relate because my job is somewhat similar. I have to enforce unpopular policies in an attempt to keep our participants safe.
We are being allowing to carry fewer people on inspected boats than was originally allowed. For example, our Newton 46′ Dive Specials are currently certified to carry 49 persons. After 01 December 2011 we will only be allowed to carry 42 persons. Many boats will have to go through new stability tests (possibly four of the big dive boats owned by the Florida Sea Base), each test costing $$$$$$. Owners of large sailing vessels like our Scuba Liveaboard and Sea Exploring vessels will be required to have all masts and all rigging removed at least every six years. Some may be required to decommission annually. That too will cost big bucks. Some of the very large sailing catamarans in Key West (and other venues) do day sails and sunset cruises and frequently serve cocktails. With their diminished carrying capacity they will no longer qualify with the State of Florida for a liquor license and will not be allowed to serve drinks. Sailing vessels that have drilled holes in the mast to attach speakers, lights, etc. may be required to replace their masts before being allowed to carry passengers for hire. That will be even bigger bucks. The Coast Guard presented us with NO good news. All of these new regulations are in response to ONE catamaran that dismasted in 2003 resulting in one death in the Northeastern US. Because of that incident thousands, maybe tens of thousands of commercial operators of small passenger vessels will be required to spend thousands of dollars to stay in business. What a crazy over-reaction.
Since I was gone all day I have no idea of what was accomplished by the seasonal staff other than Laura’s report that the 100+ new scuba tanks have been visually inspected and assembled.
That’s all for this morning. A repairman is coming in a while to see if he can find the refrigerant leak in my refrigerator.
Aboard S/V Escape