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Dive flags a must over busy summer

Friday, 10 January 2014 11:15 a.m.

Boat skippers and divers are reminded they are legally responsible for displaying a dive flag when diving in Bay of Plenty waters this summer.

“The display of dive flags and awareness of the requirements when they are being displayed has been identified as a significant issue by harbourmasters across the top part of the North Island,” Bay of Plenty Regional Council Maritime Operations Manager Reuben Fraser said.

Both boat skippers and divers are legally responsible for displaying a dive flag that is able to be seen and readily identified from 200 metres away.

There are a number of legal requirements for boat skippers and divers:

  • The minimum legal flag size is 600 mm high by at least 600 mm long. It must be clearly visible even when there is no wind.
  • A watch-keeper left on the dive boat must be instructed to wave the flag, so that it can be seen by any approaching vessel at a distance of more than 200 metres. The same onus is on anyone diving from a vessel.
  • A three-dimensional rigid mounted flag is necessary if no watch-keeper stays on board.

“Divers sometimes drift away from their support boat, so other boaties should expect them to be well away from the boat flying the flag,” Mr Fraser said.

Other boats must maintain at least 200 metres’ distance from a dive flag, or keep their speed down to under 5 knots.

The dive flag must be Flag A of the International Code of Signals (the Divers’ Flag) – a burgee (swallow-tailed) flag coloured in white and blue with white to the mast. The flag must be of not less than 600mm by 600mm or a rigid equivalent.

“Bay of Plenty waterways get very busy at times but there is plenty of space for everyone and we want to ensure everybody is safe – we ask that skippers and divers ensure they are familiar with the rules and adhere to them,” Mr Fraser said.

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