Boat Use at Puffin
BOAT USE AROUND PUFFIN DIVE CENTRE
Please read and apply this request for prudent behaviour when operating vessels of any size in the bay and surrounding area to Gallanach and Puffin Dive Centre.
PARKING, LAUNCHING & RECOVERY AND SHORE ACTIVITY:
Trailers (and towing vehicles) should be neatly parked on the grass area by the fence between the toilet block and the main sign.
Parking, or launching fees due should be paid BEFORE setting up for a launch or use of facilities
3 KTS MAXIMUM SPEED Within 150 mtrs of the pier end at Puffin (This is a slow walking pace)
AVOID SURFACE MARKERS BY AT LEAST 25 METERS (these may not be directly above the diver)
AVOID THE REEF – LAT 0.2 MTRS - IT IS MARKED ON THE CHART
SOME NOTES REGARDING DIVERS:
Bubbles may NOT be a visible indicator of current location of a diver
High diver traffic routes or locations may be compromised by poor diver navigation
NOT all divers carry SMB’s – Some have rebreathers (no or small amount of bubbles
Engine noise underwater is not based on direction – engines are loud even when a distance away
Trainee divers are frequently in the water here – not all from PDC – Exercise caution at all times
BOAT FACILITIES AT PUFFIN DIVE CENTRE – General explanation for skippers
Note the high transit and traffic areas for divers as shown. This is a guide to probability of some diving taking place, not an absolute guarantee that other diving will not be taking place anywhere in the proximity of Puffin.
The use of SMB’s and other types of “Diver down” markers are recommended by Puffin however skill levels by the divers and sometimes general lack of understanding can result in no SMB’s being used. Especially during early phases of initial training or on some training types where work is being undertaken and an unplanned surface return is instantly required.
Several divers have noted and complained that boat speeds have NOT been within the requirement for use of our facilities. The speed, until fully outside (at least 50 metres beyond the furthest buoy) of the bay at Gallanach is 3 knots or less. This for boat skippers is often referred to as “trolling speeds” – this is generally at tick over. Producing a wake usually indicates you are NOT at the correct speed for the bay!
Divers have noted that even when the boat is apparently a safe distance from them the engine noise from a high revving engine or engine pair is exceptional when heard through the water. New, young, or even seasoned divers can be startled or intimidated by the sound of vessels passing as the direction of the sound is hard to gauge accurately underwater.
Near misses by boat drivers, who should be aware of the “Rules of the Road” for boat users and the common-sense requirements for the wellbeing and comfort of fellow divers have increased lately. We are setting out these points knowing that most people that read these requests are most likely NOT the ones that require reminding!
There is a reef opposite the pier at Gallanach – this is about 75 metres from the point of the pier in a south West direction – it is usually busy with divers. Solo divers, trainee divers, rebreather divers. It extends southwards for a good distance. It is shown on all charts as having a lowest astronomical tide (LAT) depth of 0.2 meters – yes, that is zero point two metres. Some boat owners “warm up” their engines by doing 20 knots across this area. Maybe they are highly skilled and intuitive, alternatively they have not got a clue that the reef exists or that safety of divers is paramount!
All vessels should maintain an adequate “watch” in accord with Rule 5. It follows that to avoid a collision with reef or with a diver requires a full appraisal of the risk of boating over these areas. Rule 6 refers to a safe speed – this is a speed at which the contact could be avoided. As you should be aware this would be very difficult to explain away if by definition, you had contact with a diver. It follows you must have been aware as it is a dive centre and these are dive sites (the charts show it) The diver rarely gets a speed of over .25 mile per hour even when surfacing. Thus, the only party moving fast in a prohibited speed area would by elimination, be you.
The charts also show Puffin as a diving centre – negligence by the boat driver in the event of an injury either to the crew by impact with the reef or to a diver by contact or related issues would be exceptionally easy to prove in several ways! Another good reason and a mandatory requirement for skippers to use low speeds is when using PDC facilities such as launching, recovering, or mooring.
Puffin is asking you to comply with these reasonable and mutually beneficial steps. We have trainee divers throughout the year. Many of these come in small groups and attend and operate in this “safe” zone and sometimes do not notify us of their presence believing that the A flag flying gives adequate warning to skippers to avoid and therefore protection (which it does)
Finally, and to indicate our commitment to this absolute requirement we will require that any breaches of these mandatory rules will be considered as grounds for banning the offending vessels and users from Puffin facilities should a complaint be made by staff, customers or members of the public who witness or are affected by boat conduct indicating a risk potential – even if and at the time there were no divers in the water!
An “extent of safe area” is attached for clarity. Please note that novice divers may well navigate badly and place themselves inadvertently in an area close to the perimeters shown.
We have made the launch area and facilities available only to divers on a gratis basis providing at least air was being purchased. They must notify the shop on arrival in any event. It would be a shame if this excellent resource required payment by divers to ensure the costs of additional cover was required.
Revving loudly when launching and recovering is usually not good for the engines AND irritates ore concerns divers already in the water
It is a courtesy and requirement to notify divers lower down the slipway of your intention to launch. (or recover). Give them ample time to move out of the way of a gravity driven runaway trailer issue - especially if trainees and training is in progress. The slipway is sometime slippery and control of even a four wheel drive vehicle can be compromised
Trainees use the slipway as well for diving exercises. It is used as a graduated slope to gauge small depths and gradual increases as well as mask and buoyancy skills training. The slipway is not exclusively for boats