BVI News

Change of culture needed to improve nautical safety locally

John Samuel

The issue of nautical safety in the BVI may require closer attention given some challenges in the recent past. 

This is according to the Director of the Virgin Islands Shipping Registry, John Samuel. The entity has oversight for maritime administration issues in the BVI, including the responsibility to conduct marine accident investigations where ever marine accidents may take place. 

While appearing as a guest on the Honestly Speaking radio show, Samuel said the issue of marine accidents is one the Registry has struggled with in recent years. 

One of the challenges that boaters in the BVI struggle with is that they know the waters mentally, Samuel said. 

“When you operate knowing an area mentally, you operate very differently than if you had to actually practice navigation to operate safely. So you become more relaxed—your attention, you’re not as focused,“ Samuel said. 

“Because we know the area so well and we can navigate it almost blindly, we perhaps tend maybe to not pay as much attention as we should when we are operating out on the water,” he further explained.

As a mitigation measure, Samuel suggested that safety campaigns needed to be improved and said the safety culture on the water also needed to be changed to give people a greater appreciation of the need to operate safely while on the water. 

Marine investigations 

And although legislation has been in place for more than two years, the department continues to try to fill the vacancy of a chief accident investigator. 

Following an accident, such officials conduct investigations and will sometimes make recommendations about changes in legislation or changes in practices that need to be made. 

With a recent marine accident having involved a fatality, Samuel said the organisation was required to reach out to an experienced accident investigator, Graeme Morkel, to investigate on its behalf. 


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  1. Musa says:

    The sad news is if you own a boat you are a captain that is a big problem

    Like 4
    Dislike 2
  2. look into that too says:

    Both sol and delta have unmarked and unlighted buoys/moorings outside their fuel depots…These are hazards to the boaters especially at nights

    Like 15
  3. Speed limits says:

    VISR needs to enforce daily 24 hr speed limits in all the bays, bights, sounds and harbors of the BVI AND night/restricted visibility speed limits in all the BVI territorial waters.

    Like 7
    Dislike 2
  4. Dave says:

    There are qualified accident investigators in the BVI already, and they have been here for many years. Speak to them.

    VISR should focus on its dilligence when certifying seafarers.

    Like 11
  5. Yes! says:

    The BVI should start teaching the maritime ‘rules of the road’ to all students in elementary school. Somehow we expect these ‘adults’ with the money to buy these big boats to know boating safety, but we – the BVI, need to start early with the youth.
    We are born near the water and spend our lives on it. Now is time to create more boater education so we do not have these needless accidents.

  6. Captain says:

    A lot of boat owners don’t know the rules of the sea and don’t have any respect for other boaters on the water, they don’t slow down when they are supposed to and they don’t give way when they are supposed to, they don’t know what Port to Port means and that goes for some of the bear boaters. On the Water Day or Night, you should have a lookout. Running at night you need to be able to read lights and use them as a beacon in some cases and don’t run too close to land. Always have your running lights on at night.

  7. BuzzBvi says:

    Lights and bouys also need to be maintained properly. Check out the ones off Mosquito and Beef. There is more the Government can do for Marine safety than just pass it over to others. Programmed maintenance of their own responsibilities would be a good start to show the people that Navigation and Safety are something of importance in the VI. That and patrols and enforcement for law breakers. Just take a video of the idiots, just like scooter riders on our roads, as they race through the bay to and from the Willy T on a Sunday. Enforcement of the current rules would be the best option and also requirement for training for all people operating boats that are not commercial. Then enforcement. Without enforcement it will be pointless.

  8. Common sense says:

    The UK has numerous boating and educational programmes, some of which were taught locally, not sure if that is still the case. More importantly, the cause of the recent accident with one fatality are well known, who contravened the Maritime Rule of the Road regulations, make a public statement so people can learn from the incident, don’t sweep it under the carpet.

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