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Jet skiers nearly hit couple snorkelling

A visiting couple said they were almost hit by jet skis while they were snorkelling off Hog Bay Level in Sandys.

They were swimming on the reefs in the early evening on Thursday when they saw the jet skis coming straight towards them.

“They came up quick. When my wife first saw them, they were heading straight at us,” the husband, who asked not to be named, told The Royal Gazette.

“If you are snorkelling, you can’t really hear them until they are right on top of you. It was close, fairly close to hitting us. Once they saw us, they stopped.”

The husband said they were about “10 to 15 yards away” at this point and he said he heard one of them say: “Oh, that’s dangerous”.

Earlier this month, a West End resident called for more to be done to stop jet skis and boaters from zooming across the reefs south of Daniel’s Head at high speed.

This prompted a reminder from the Government that it is an offence to operate any vessel within 100m of shore at speeds of more than five knots and in a manner that creates a wake.

According to the husband, the incident happened “a little further out — probably beyond the 100m mark” around 5pm or 6pm.

“But earlier in the day, some were definitely getting closer than the 100m mark,” he added.

He said they also saw them cutting right across the reef, which he said would be dangerous at low tide because they would risk hitting the reef.

But the couple, who are staying in the area, were not able to make out which company the black and white jet skis belonged to because their masks had fogged up.

Ralph Richardson, chairman of the Bermuda Water Safety Council, said he was able to speak to two of the three jet ski companies in the area after hearing about the incident.

And while he said that they had a “good attitude towards it”, he reiterated the need for all jet-ski operators to exercise caution in any area where there might be swimmers or snorkellers.

Mr Richardson said he had received several calls in the past week from people reporting jet skis travelling fast within the 100m limit in the area west of St James Church.

“I had seen it as well last week in the same area,” he added.

He pointed out that the West Coast, with its many shallow areas, is very popular with snorkellers and swimmers.

“Many of the snorkelling tours go there. There is a possibility of swimmers and snorkellers along the entire area.

“The message should be that they have to slow their speed all along the west coast.”

Mr Richardson also pointed to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, which he said obliged any operator to be aware of their surroundings and assess the area for any signs of danger.

He said this applied to tour operators as well as individual jet skiers, who might not be aware of the “rules of the road”.