Sunday, August 19, 2007

Dangerous Waters

Sue from Cliftonville shares the concerns that many of us have over the dangers from jestskis in Thanet waters. To illustrate what many of us now see as a regular occurence and a danger to swimmers along the coast, she took this video of two of the craft racing close inshore:

18 comments:

sue said...

These two were at it for a good couple of hours yesterday (Sat). Not young blokes either. One must have been forty!
I could even hear them shout "Go!" when they started a race. Unbelievalbe.

Anonymous said...

Those two fools on their jet skies were certainly racing inside the designated area for swimming, also across the water-ski channel at Foreness Bay and far too close inshore. The person running the jet-ski café is I thought responsible to TDC for policing the craft he launches. I just wonder if he asks for proof of third party insurance and how detailed his guide-lines and instructions are to visiting craft.
I have often wondered why we do not have the same system as Tor Bay in Devon simple marker buoys 500 metres beyond the low water line inside which there is a 6 knot speed limit except in clearly marked channels that that allow these craft to access the shore at certain bays. If anybody turns up to launch their speedboat or jet-ski without insurance and an observer (crew), they are turned away.
In the late 1960’s or early 70’s sadly off the harbour at Westbrook a local garage owner’s son was killed by falling off his ski and being run over and injured by the propeller of a following boat, how long will it be before a similar accident happens?
Where is the police rib patrol we were supposed to share with Herne Bay. This I recall was sponsored and paid for by one of the jet-ski manufacturers. We only see the police on the water at the air show.
Only yesterday two jet-skies raced into Ramsgate’s outer harbour, the port control blew their fog horn, the two craft turned and left the harbour, at speed, did anybody follow up their infringement of the bylaws? I doubt it.
The simple answer is until somebody is killed, nothing will be done about a growing problem.
And finally, last Friday it was reported in the Gazette a jet ski was abandoned out at sea in Pegwell Bay and the rider swimming ashore, the emergency services spent thousand of pounds searching for the rider who did not report his safe whereabouts, this should now lead to the owner being prosecuted his craft confiscated and if he is insured, recovery of costs. I have now had my say but when will TDC do something to ensure our 22 miles of coast line are safe and enjoyable for all.
Visit Torquay and learn how to do it……………..

sue said...

I agree. The marker buoys are a really good idea and we really need it but it seems Thanet is very slow on the uptake with these things. Someone is going to be killed quite soon I think. Some days I look down on the jetski area from the clifftop and it is mayhem! Craft twirling and zipping about in circles and zigzagging in every direction. I will try and capture it on vid if I get the chance.

DrMoores said...

You'll see from the archives I've been making a fuss about the dangers from jetskis for several years now. It's not taken seriously and even if it was, who is going to catch the offenders. From what I've seen on several hot weekend afternoons, with car boots crammed with cans of lager, a number of these riders along the promenade to Foreness Point may well be over the legal driving limit for cars as well.

Anonymous said...

One reason why these people get to launch their Personal Watercraft is because the barriers to the slipways along the coast are left open by lazy/irresponsible people. The keyholders, except for Beresford Gap which is in effect privatised, are all supposed to be members of Thanet Water Users Group. One of the conditions of membership is the securing of these barriers after use. Unfortunately, once the council have taken their £15 key deposit, they seem to relinquish all responsibility for this aspect of the coast. At Minnis Bay, I frequently see the barrier left open and sometimes locked in this position, thus admitting unauthorised users to the slipway. The answer to this would be to have a warden for the summer months who patrols the coast and ensures barriers are locked and the slipways are used for their designated purpose. Unfortunately this will cost money. On the patrolled beaches, where most swimmers are, the lifeguards could perform this function as part of their safety commitment to beach users. This would be cost-free.
I believe there is a speed and distance restriction in force for all power craft, but as I have mislaid my TWUG papers I cannot say exactly what this is, but certainly is a lot further out than those fools were. If there is supposed to be a police rib patrol, then it is the Council's responsibility to ensure that it pays regular visits, especially at holiday times. I guess that it has gone the way of most police land patrols. Perhaps the foreshore manager could be persuaded to be more proactive in this respect.
Jammy Dodger - Birchington

Anonymous said...

With reference to my earlier comment 1.45 pm Sunday, my family and I were members of the Foreness ski club in the late 1960's, when there were few ski boat about and no jet skies.
Now both of my sons have ski boats, far more powerful than the boats we learned to ski behind in the 1960’s, both families have public liability insurance, without which they could not have got a TDC gate key and legal access to the foreshore in Thanet, but after the first application they have not had to provide evidence of insurance, in future years.
Dr Moores you seem like a very keen new member of the council who I hope will not rest until something is done to improve safety. If you fly along the Devon coast over Tor Bay you can clearly see the marker buoys defining the speed limits. Harbour masters at launch sites at Torquay, Brixham and Paignton, charge visitors to launch and explain clearly the by laws in the area, there is also a safely rib patrolling the bays
As I suggested last year, TDC should get a sponsor to provide and anchor these buoys, and whilst on this subject the speed channel at Palm Bay and at the Winter gardens is ill defined, as buoys are missing, warning signs do not even define speed limits, and the foreshore is never visibly policed by council or law officers. The existing mobile vehicle advertising Leisure Force appears useless, just trying to act out a “Baywatch” fantasy! I just wonder when staff last checked the individual safety life-buoys along our coast-line?
Perhaps we should start a telephone campaign calling the local councillor or better still the chairman of TDC every time we see a safety problem on the foreshore, maybe the next comment or Blogg will publish his mobile number published, or better still the councillors numbers who are represent the coastal areas in question!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 9:38. As a TWUG member, I have a key to the barriers, but have not insured my boat this year because of injury. However I could still, at any time, launch without any Public Liability insurance, as there is no follow-up checks, nor the risk of any. Whilst I am passionately against over-regulation, what is the use of rules if they are not policed?
Since my earlier post, I have found out that the speed/distance restrictions are 400 meters and 8 knots.
There are several councilors who have various parts of the Thanet coast in their ward, but the man in charge of the day to day running of the coast is the foreshore manager, last known to be Mr. Joe McCarthy. He is contactable on the usual TDC switchboard number. Jammy Dodger - Birchington

Anonymous said...

Anon. 9.38 again, All boats that have a launch permit and access key were supplied with ID numbers by TDC at least they were, when keys are issued, where are the ID numbers for jet skies ?
I cannot recall seeing them. If stickers were issued annually and colour coded this would go some way to checking up on their ID and insurance, a small annual charge would make this self-fiancing.

Anonymous said...

Could I suggest you read one of the Channel Islands approaches to safety on the water on the following site.
http://www.gov.gg/ccm/environment/Water-Sports-Enthusiasts-Warned-About-Safety.en

sue said...

The barriers are definitely an issue. I have moaned many times about them being left open. The one at Friends Gap is almost always open these days. The lock has been broken off about 3 times this year alone. When barriers are left open, people without keys drive down to Foreness Point, sometimes in all innocence then get locked in.
I have been told that many people have keys who should not have them including some of the shell fish harvesters. Fishermen with rod and line certainly have them. I think there must be a bit of sharing going on.
Barriers would not have made any difference to these two twerps though.

Anonymous said...

I think anon.9:38's comment proves my point. I suspect that the vast majority of these pests are not TWGU members, but are outsiders who gain access via unlocked barriers. I am assuming here that the two regulated jetski - designated slipways are properly policed by their respective organisations. My worry is that if simple rules cannot be enforced by local councils then we may end up with heavy-handed national legislation that will affect the innocent law - abiding water user as well as the rogue user. There is always talk of national or even EU regulations for one of the last bastions of freedom, private use of the open sea. The Royal Yachting Association has managed to fight this off at the moment with their programmes of education, but it only takes a couple of nasty accidents bymindless idiots to change the authorities minds.
Sue, what did you mean about barriers not making any different to your two "film stars"? Did they launch from the beach, or did they force a barrier?
Jammy Dodger - Birchington

Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that Kent Constabulary purchased two jet skis for officers to patrol resorts; has anyone phoned Maidstone and asked them to deal with the problem?

Anonymous said...

The truth is there is no control or management of jet skiers at the Ramsgate underpass, or by the Winter garden, or at Palm Bay where jet skiers pay the local cafe franchasie to launch and recover their jet skies. I just wonder if he has insurance to drive his dumper truck on the beach?
I suggest the most important concerns are, clearly defined area or channels and most of all insurance.

sue said...

Jammy Dodger:
They launched from the jet ski hire at Hodges gap/Walpole bay.
When the hire place is open, people can go down with their own equipment and launch as the barrier is open. The proprietor locks the gate on days when hire place is closed. I don't think these two were hiring from him. They had their own gear.

sue said...

Actually, further to that, I don't think it is reasonable to expect him to police every jetskiers behaviour. The ones that hire from him yes but to police everyone is surely not his job. Nor would it be practical. He makes a good job of keeping the beach clean and he uses his tractor to do that. The beach there has never been cleaner.I wouldn't want him to stop. We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

Sue, thanks for the explanation, I've now got a clearer understanding. I wonder what the terms of the franchise are. Should he only allow persons hiring from him to use the slip, and the others are unauthorised users, or does he take a fee for all launches whether he hires to them or not. If the former, he should only allow those hiring equipment to use the slip, and then lock the barrier again, not allow a free-for-all. If the latter, then he should be responsible for them as he is taking a fee, unless the whole is paid to TDC and he makes no personal gain. Surely it is in the interests of his business not to attract complaints about unruly Jet Skiers. The main problem though is that there is nowhere for people to contact and get a quick response. The culprits are long-gone before any action could be taken. As I said earlier, perhaps it is time for TDC to take a more pro-active approach. Simon, you say you have complained for years, now you are in a better position to do something about it. Jammy Dodger - Birchington.

Anonymous said...

Well Simon,
You have here a number of constructive suggestions, fair amount of background information, just what a young councillor needs to go forward and make a difference. When you dig deeper you will I think find the cafe franchisee is perhaps, a little slack, but I would suggest also that TDC foreshore team need waking up.
But , when you have all the information draw your own conclusion, and please publish it.
Just try and make a difference, thank you.

DrMoores said...

Thanks for all this. I've already started the conversation rolling but have discovered it's not straightforward as it involves Thanet Leisure Force. I'll keep pushing because, like you, I firmly believe it's in the public interest.