Following a fatal jet ski accident, which took place in Porquerolles island, South of Saint-Tropez, in July 2014, the French authorities are exercising more vigilance with regards to tender and jet ski operations in the South of France.
According to local reports, the victim was ejected from the jet ski, on which she was traveling with a companion, after being hit by a big wave.
The new regulations, which are highlighted by Camper and Nicholsons in a recent news feed, reveal that captains can now be liable for any breaches of the law regarding operation of jet skis and tenders belonging to their vessel, even if he or she was not personally involved in the incident. As a result, it is of utmost importance that superyachts cruising in the area need to be aware of speeding limits and control reckless behaviour when crew or guests are operating tenders or jet skis.
“The onus is on captains to instruct their crew and guests as to the regulations they need to abide by when using tenders or jet skis, including informing guests and crew of the speed limits in different areas, as well as being fully aware of local regulations.”
“French authorities recommend conducting a full briefing on how to safely operate tenders and jet skis before guests or crew make use of the craft.”
Allegedly, if a guest or crewmember is caught speeding or involved in an accident, local authorities will record the details of the yacht from which the tender was launched and can prosecute the captain. If prosecuted this would involve a court hearing with potential penalties that include a fine of up to 30,000 euros, up to six months imprisonment and a ban from French territory for at least one year.
The Crew Report has received confirmation from one crewmember, wishing to remain anonymous, who was cautioned by the local authorities after driving a tender marginally above the speed limit in Antibes, that 1000 euros worth of fines have been issued for speeding where yacht tenders have been found operating outside of the legal parameters.
In these instances the captain’s details have been recorded and formal warnings have been issued. If a second similar incident is logged against a particular yacht, the captain will be banned from navigating in French waters.
“Captains are therefore strongly encouraged to be carefully informed of the regulations relating to jet ski and tender use in the different areas they will be navigation, and to inform their guests and crew accordingly.
Source: The Crew Report
Tips to improve the safety culture and reduce the risk of casualty:
- Establish a full Risk assessment for the Jet ski or Tender use in particular areas.
- Full briefing of the tender driver and special briefing for night guest rotations (speed limit, traffic, distance, which vessels and hazards in vicinity, ...)
- The Captain Duty of care does not relieve each crew member of their duty of care, some failures of the duty of care may lead to both civil and criminal prosecution.
- "Helmet" and Life jacket to be worn on jet skis
- The Safety Kill cord to be tested and used at all times when driving
- Jet ski briefing to the guest before use and form to be signed by the guest stating that he has been informed of:
* On how to use the jet ski
* Its limitations
* The risks related to jet ski fast driving
* The forbidden areas, the areas to be avoided, the speed limit areas
* How to drive before docking the yacht
* How to use the VHF, and what is the watch channel
- Use of Tracker beacon or AIS for larger tender that can be plotted on the radar or on an AIS web site
- Store a handheld water proof VHF on board the jet ski