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AD 2016 Q2

As we pointed out in the spring 2013 edition of the Alert Diver, even being a dive buddy has potential legal implications. So, to bump this up a notch, what about the diver training organisations themselves? Where do they stand? How do they relate to South African law? Are they all considered the same under our legal system in spite of the differences in organisational structures and training programmes? How does this affect their respective instructors and trainee divers from a legal perspective? These are not exactly simple questions. It is certainly true that the respective training organisations differ in a number of ways. However, this does not imply that there are necessarily differential legal implications for each of them. In fact, under South African law, the legal principles are common in all matters. Therefore, if you suffer a loss and you (or your estate in the case of a fatality) wish to recover damages, the legal principles would be applied commonly; whether you are driving or diving. Although not a frequent occurrence, there have been quite a number of law suits associated with diving injuries and damages in South Africa. This is not surprising, as the occurrence of law suits is really a function of “numbers”. As training increases, so do the chances of injuries and, with it, the chances of legal recourse. So, it remains wise to insure yourself, your equipment or your business in a proper and effective way. But before getting back to the potential differences amongst the training agencies, let’s first explore the foundational legal principles on which any civil claim would be adjudicated: inherent risk, negligence and duty to take care.

HOW TO DIVE IT

HOW TO DIVE IT CONDITIONS Diving can be done year round; the water temperature averages 78°F in winter and 82°F in summer. I recommend a dive skin or a 3mm wetsuit during the summer and a 3mm-5mm wetsuit in the winter. All diving is by boat. There are numerous sheltered dive sites throughout the year, but more are typically available in the summer when the trade winds are lighter and the Atlantic swells are smaller. Diving depths range from 10 feet to 120 feet, with visibility ranging from 30 feet to more than 100 feet. In the summer, occasional plankton blooms can reduce visibility. Currents can range from nonexistent to strong, depending on the site. Jost Van Dyke Norman Island Tortola Peter Island Salt Island 6 2 1 4 3 5 Dog Islands Cooper Island 7 Virgin Gorda 1. RMS Rhone 2. Blonde Rock 3. Shark Point 4. Painted Walls 5. Chimney Rock 6. Wreck Alley 7. The Baths GETTING THERE The BVI are about 60 miles east of Puerto Rico and are easy to reach via Puerto Rico or St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Fly directly to Beef Island, Tortola (EIS), or fly to St. Thomas (STT) and then take an hourlong ferry ride to Tortola. Remember to bring your passport. From Tortola, the other islands can be accessed via ferry or charter flight, which adds an island-hopping charm to the adventure. TOPSIDE ACTIVITIES Sailing among the islands is the BVI’s No. 1 attraction. Charter a sailboat, or head out on a day sailing adventure. Island hop by ferry, and discover the islands by rental car or tour bus. Discovering the islands’ countless scenic overlooks is its own adventure — you will be rewarded by stunning vistas of the other islands and the endless sea. Take a ferry to Virgin Gorda, and rent a car or catch a taxi to The Baths. Go later in the afternoon to avoid the masses of cruise ship guests. Enjoy the light hiking and wading through water; it’s beautiful every step of the way. Take a day trip to the BVI’s only coral island, Anegada, and enjoy its stunning beaches and delicious grilled lobster. For more information, go to bvitourism.com. [ Below: Deadman’s Beach, Peter Island Opposite: Squirrelfish, French grunts and goatfishes hide from the currents on the Rhone. 76 | SPRING 2016

[ [ “THE CONVERGING WALLS AND VALLEYS ARE A CANVAS FOR MARINE LIFE TO WORK ITS JACKSON POLLOCK-STYLE ARTISTRY.” but I had come to realize the immeasurable wealth that surrounded me every day in these islands. The skies were postcard perfect; the roads were friendly and easy to drive. Locals smiled and waved. I spotted other tourists I had met during the week, and we shouted greetings. I stopped in the middle of the road for an iguana crossing. The Caribbean breeze blew fragrances both familiar and exotic through my open windows. And then I arrived. It’s a spot so iconic that it has graced the pages of a hundred magazines and thousands of postcards. The Baths were still every bit as breathtaking and alluring as I remembered. Massive, smooth granite boulders framed the water’s edge, and powder-white coral sand stuck to my bare feet. Suddenly I was 9 years old again and exploring the wonderful play of light and water around the boulders, this time with a camera in hand. Paradise was briefly mine alone. Then the cacophony of approaching tourists from a cruise ship ended my reverie, but I had found treasure. The BVI had once again shared their wealth in countless little ways. I could leave enriched and committed to return soon for more. AD ALERTDIVER.COM | 77

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