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Snorkellers in the water off Racha Yai, a popular Phuket tourist spot

Phuket Dive Tourist 'Dragged Along by Speedboat'

Wednesday, September 22, 2010
A SPEEDBOAT rode over a diver off a popular Phuket dive spot and dragged the diver along for 300 metres before stopping yesterday, Chalong police have been told.

Representatives of a dive business accompanied Ahmed Alharmoodi, from Dubai, to make a complaint about the incident off Racha Yai.

According to reports, when the speedboat eventually stopped, the captain of the speedboat became angry with the dislodged diver and said he would have to pay for any damage to his boat.

A spokesman for the dive business, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Mr Alharmoodi was less than a metre under the water when the speedboat passed over him.

After the speedboat pulled up, ''the boat captain insulted the diver and asked him to pay the damage done on his engines without considering that he was speeding at full speed among snorkelers and divers above a coral reef in shallow water near a dive boat,'' the dive business representative said.

''Definitely he was more than lucky to survive.'' The diver lost fins, mask and snorkel and his weights bore marks from the propeller. His body was badly bruised.

Racha Yai is about 45 minutes south of Phuket by speedboat. Dive boat operators say the eastern diving sites there are often congested, with as many as 200 divers and snorkellers in the water.

Demarcation rules for vessels arriving and leaving Racha Yai sites are not clear, although regulations prohibit a boat captain from driving at more than five knots within 300 metres of the shore or over a coral reef.

When divers-below flags are flying, all boats are required to keep 50 metres away from the area. Arrests for careless driving of tourist boats are rare.
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Comments

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OH, what a surprise - NOT! I can't believe it doesn't happen far more often. We have seen those speedboat drivers racing at full speed among the divers and snorkellers. Some of those dive boats are pretty scary too, leaving divers treading water for so long that they become distressed. We have seen so much of that at Racha Yai.

About time somebody held those stupid speedboat guys to account, some are irresponsible yahoos. You should see them race through the channel to RPM & BL at top speed, almost smashing into oncoming boats and destroying the mangroves.

Posted by Tina on September 22, 2010 10:53

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"According to reports, when the speedboat eventually stopped, the captain of the speedboat became angry with the dislodged diver and said he would have to pay for any damage to his boat."

Of course he did, after all if that pesky tourist hadn't been there none of the problem would have happened.. How inconsiderate !!

Posted by LivinLOS on September 22, 2010 10:55

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About time this sort of behavior is snuffed out. Good for you Mr Alharmoodi for filing a complaint at the police station. Thank GOD you are alive to do that.

Captain denotes certain degree of responsibility and professionalism. What they had was a stupid boat driver. He should go and drive boats off Pattaya, that where they kill a lot of snorkellers and scuba divers.

Posted by Robin on September 22, 2010 11:07

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I am an ex-dive company and tourist operator from Queensland. For the past four years in Thailand, at diving locations whether it be fringing reefs in resort bays or at isolated reefs, on any day, I have witnessed dozens upon dozens of lunatic so called "Speedboat Captains" that are oblivious to people in the water whether they be divers, snorkellers or swimmers.

There is simply no comprehension as to the consequence of speed or what/who might be just under the waterline. I have stood on my boat in ABSOLUTE ANGER as to the sheer stupidity of this conduct. It is only by sheer luck this kind of thing does not happen more frequently.

These so call captains are not captains, they are just motorbike riders on water. Marine and Harbors need to take responsibility for their authority and clean it all up. Start imposing serious fines on offenders until they get the message and make it safe for visitors.

Posted by Steve on September 22, 2010 11:49

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Another rib-tickler (literally) I can just imagine the damage human flesh did to the engine of the speedboat. How dare the diver have the audacity to carry out such an action 55555555555555

Posted by Mister Ree on September 22, 2010 12:46

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Accidents between boats and divers/swimmers seem to happen more often in these waters than gets reported in the press. The "marine telegraph" is always abuzz with reports like this one, and some much more serious.

Mr. Alharmoodi is very lucky to have escaped with only bruises. It remains to be seen if there will be any disciplinary action taken against the speedboat driver.

Posted by Treelover on September 22, 2010 13:25

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Swimming about 40metres off Kata beach, an incoming speedboat "captain" waved me away angrily - as if this was so easy swimming in deep water...

Too much to ask to move the steering-wheel a little?

As Steve pointed it out perfectly: Motorbike-riders on water!!!

Posted by herbert on September 22, 2010 14:11

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Apocryphal story? Urban myth? Last century (as in around 1995), wasn't a swimmer/diver killed at sea - body ripped rather badly - off Phuket/Krabi/Samui with the culprit thought to be a. a speedboat's screw or b. a shark? Anyone care to shed some light on this?

Posted by Tanya Millibank on September 22, 2010 22:46

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Would be nice to know if the diver was accompanied by a guide yes or no, and whether or not they were using the (common practice) surface marker buoy while being so shallow.

My first impression is that the speedboat driver was not very careful, but that the diver(s) should have taken more care as well.

Posted by steven on September 23, 2010 13:20

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@Steve,

The dive boat had just dropped the group of divers near several speedboats anchored over a coral reef while snorkelers were nearby snorkeling on the reef.

As they were at the dive entry point and were descending, it was impossible to have a surface buoy to surface as they were planning a 10-15 meter dive for about 40 minutes.

International and Thai boat regulation clearly stipulate that:
- Boat captain must reduce speed at less than 5 knots near shore (300m) or on coral reef (Normally it is 3 knots as in boat marinas or ports)
- Blue/White international flag and/or red/white flag (Divers below) require all moving boats to clear off a 50m radius for that diving & snorkeling boat area.

That speedboat should have move cautiously at low speed toward deep water and far away from the shoreline before speeding.
Note that when you drive a speedboat, the first 50 meters needs full speed in order to start planning and during that process the captain has no view at all on more than 50 meters in front of him and on a wide band of 20 meters; so any divers or snorkelers on the 20 x 50 zone area will not be seen by the boat drivers and bubbles, even less.

In that case we may say that the boat driver may be charged for careless driving in a dangerous area (or in a more serious incident for manslaughter) but many times police do not act as nobody dies and they may not be interested to get involved in a dispute with local people.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 23, 2010 14:18

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My best guess will be, that the capo of the speedboat driver and his captain will come to the police station and counter-sue the snorkeller for reckless swimming, showing pictures of the beaten up boat. As the swimmer wants to go home in time, he will plea guilty and pay 1000 baht fine and 15000 baht for the damage to the boat....
But no! They will mediate now...

Posted by Lena on September 24, 2010 13:13

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and probably pre-existing damage to boot

Posted by mikey on September 27, 2010 22:25

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Not surprising at all. I have seen some unbelievably dangerous things committed by speed boat "captains" at Raya. Longtails, too.

No respect or concern for bubbles indicating divers below or surface marker buoys. Typically the route they use to get to the east side bays brings them racing right across the top of the Home Run reef, a popular dive site, at a distance from shore of about 30m, nowhere near the 300m required by law.

I wonder how this guy was not chopped up by the propeller?

Posted by PhuketScuabInstructor on October 4, 2010 22:23

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I found out that Thailand National Park regulations have been posted in Thai and English on the website of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and that will make clear in both languages what we can do and what we can not do.

OFFICIAL ENGLISH VERSION OF THE NATIONAL PARK SCUBA DIVING REGULATION
NP website in English: http://www.dnp.go.th/index_eng.asp
National Park Diving Regulation in English: http://www.dnp.go.th/Rules/seatrade_en.pdf

OFFICIAL THAI VERSION OF THE NATIONAL PARK SCUBA DIVING REGULATION
NP website in Thai: http://www.dnp.go.th/index3d.asp
National Park Diving Regulation in Thai: http://www.dnp.go.th/Rules/seatrade_th.pdf

According to the new Thailand National Park Regulation, international diving regulations (TDA, CMAS, PADI, SSI, NAUI) and the standards of international rules for navigation at sea, we may conclude that various regulations require:
- Moving boats of any kind must not exceeded 3 knots inside shoreline zone (International boating regulation: it is 300 meters).
- Moving boats of any kind must not exceeded 3 knots while approching coral reefs and moving on coral reefs.
- Moving boats of any kind must be off by 50 meter radius of any diving or snorkeling boat which has the international Alpha flag (Letter A: danger within 50 meters around the boat and must be clear off by any moving boat).
- Moving boats of any kind must be off by 50 meter radius of any diving or snorkeling boat which has the international diving flag (Red with a white line crossing the flag: danger within 50 meters around the boat and must be clear off by any moving boat).
- Moving boats of any kind must be off by 50 meter radius of any divers' surface buoy (Divers below).
- Large powered boats have to use a tender dinghy to drop-off and pick-up divers and snorkelers in snorkeling and diving area or on or nearby coral reefs.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on October 5, 2010 12:07


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