In the wake of the death of a British visitor last week in a jet ski accident at Maxwell Beach, Christ Church, as well as repeated calls for more stringent enforcement of regulations, water sport operators vow the recreational activity is safe.
Describing the incident that led to Jordan Jamal Mayers’ death as “a once in a lifetime freak accident”, Brian Gibbons, owner of Malibu Water Sports in Mullin’s Beach, St Peter argued that water sports here has been remarkably safe during his 20 years in the business, something he attributed to proper self-regulation.
“Before anyone goes out on a jet ski they are given instructions on how to use the machine and the operators point out the path which is marked by the buoys so that they don’t damage the jet ski or themselves on the reef. Whether it is jet ski or boat, an operator teaches the rider that in the case of two crafts heading towards each other, they both must turn starboard [right-hand] and they would miss each other every time. So we make sure that we do everything so that the customers and all beach users are safe,” Gibbons said.
The veteran facilitator also revealed that operators at Mullin’s Beach have experienced little fallout from the fatal accident.
The same was true for operators at Sandy Lane Beach, Pebbles Beach and Dover Beach.
However when Barbados TODAY visited Maxwell Beach this morning, there were no operators plying their trade at that location.
“I don’t think much of the tourists know about the incident and even if they know about it I think they understand that it is an accident and life goes on. People get in accidents on the road all the time but it does not stop people from driving. As a matter of fact the last two days have been extremely busy for the operators because people have come here to enjoy themselves,” Gibbons explained.
While operators did not expect a fall in patronage, some were worried that insurance premiums would rise as jet ski operators have long had a poor reputation similar to that of operators of privately-owned public service vehicles.
They also expressed concern that the visitor’s death could prompt the National Conservation Commission (NCC) to adopt a more stringent approach to regulating the sector.
Every year the NCC warns recreational watercraft operators to put an end to dangerous practice of manoeuvring their vessels between swimmers or speeding through high waves, leaving their dangling passengers to cling on for dear life.
“I am just hoping that this one bad incident does not hurt us. Everybody has to make a living and we have to operate close to where the customers are. I am not saying that you should ride between people bathing, but you have to allow us to make our money too,” said one jet ski owner who requested anonymity.