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By Chris Doyle (Author of “Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands” and Caribbean yachting journalist for over 40 years.)

Dear Mr. Beache and Minister James,

I have read that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is considering lifting the ban on jet skis (lower case to show this includes other engine driven, one or two person scooters like personal watercraft).

One line of reasoning seems to be that as nautical tourism (yachts, diving, snorkelling ,etc.) is one of St. Vincent’s most successful products, this would be a good line of expansion.

There is a problem with this. Yachting, which is mainly sailing yachts, are peopled by nature-lovers who almost universally loathe the noise of jet skis.  They are not alone in this. Nearly everyone, except those on jet skis, hates the noise. The noise is not like that of an outboard or power boat, which is steady noise, the jet ski buzzes up and down in volume and pitch like a donkey-sized mosquito overdosed on meth and steroids. This happens because they are not used for transport, but to have fun, which means doing nautical wheelies, creating waves and then jumping them, and generally creating as much water chaos as possible. Clearly this is a lot of fun for those on the jet ski, but a nightmare for everyone else.

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This means if the government encourages jet-skis it is likely to see a major decrease in yachts, which probably provides 75% of income for islands like Bequia and have negative impacts on the bare boat trade.

The solution offered is zoning. Beache mentioned this had worked well in Barbados and St. Lucia. Really? Jet skis bounce around Rodney Bay without let or hindrance, someone just died in an accident there. Some yachts bitterly complain about them, the noise, the waves, and the danger to their craft. Rodney Bay (excluding the Marina) is probably larger than Admiralty Bay. Many years ago, it was full of yachts, now, on a good day, it generally has fewer than 20% of the yachts anchored in Bequia

Jet skis, two or four stroke, are not only noisy but dangerous and polluting. Jet skis number about 10% of watercraft in in the United States and are involved in 30-35% of watercraft accidents. In other words, they are three times more dangerous than other craft. A jet ski produces about 243 pounds of CO2 per hour of use. In the case of two stroke, much of the fuel is ejected as fumes and pollutes the sea (as do our two stroke outboards). Is this the direction we wish to go in as our planet warms?

It seems to me a much better way of encouraging the nautical sector would be to encourage the kind we already have. I have stood in customs in Bequia and feel ashamed at the way overseas charter yachts are treated. A bare boat charter boat has maybe a week or ten days to enjoy the islands. They mainly come to Bequia to clear in and then onto the Tobago Cays. They can be charged hundreds of dollars for this pleasure. Then they are told they must go back to a port of clearance to leave. Why? For boats arriving and leaving with the same crew both Dominica has a two week in and out clearance, and St. Lucia a three-day one. In and out at the same time on the same form.

With Sailclear, much clearance could be done online, and payment could be done online with visits to customs only when specifically requested. Right now, if you go between Bequia and Grenada, customs can have long lines and take an hour or two. This stops many charter boats from coming from Grenada to the Grenadines, for which the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines would gain good fees. If we could automate this it would free up customs officers to occasionally check boat papers of yachts at anchor, and thus get payment from those who decide clearing customs is just too much hassle and ignore boundaries completely. 

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

16 replies on “No to jet skis in SVG waters”

  1. 👏Well said! But money #1 speaks, unfortunately. The people of SVG are going to loose so much business if those monstrosity, loud, dangerous rich people toys become legal in SVG’s waters.

  2. Jets Ski is not a problem as this guy has indicated. It’s a pleasure craft and is allowed in waters in many countries. I saw one in St. Lucia several years ago. The reasons given to ban it is just plain crap. I’d love to own or rent one so I can move around the Grenadines with pleasure.
    It is a tourist attraction and should be introduced into SVG.

  3. As a repeat visitor to SVG on bareboat charter one of the main charms of the area is the lack of Jet Skis. They are abhorrent and dangerous. I do everything to avoid areas in the Caribbean and in Europe that allow or worse still promote Jet Skis. They are a “false” benefit, bring little business locally and in fact deter business. The article is absolutely correct.

  4. Clearly you do not have a clue and did not understand anything from the article. Seeing jets ski once in your lifetime makes you an expert on how big sector of tourism in SVG should be developed.
    The problem is that this will be decided by as clueless person as you.

  5. Seven consecutive surveys of yachting visitors and local boaters (including local yacht charter operators) alike, conducted by Caribbean Compass regional yachting magazine between 1996 and 2017 (the next one, due to be held in 2020, was suspended owing to the Covid pandemic), revealed that upwards of 95% of yachting visitors and local respondents consistently “prefer to be in areas without jet-skis.” Furthermore, they cite the absence of jet skis as a major attraction of SVG waters.
    St Vincent & the Grenadines was very forward-thinking in legislating a ban on the importation of all PWCs in 1992. A proposal to lift the ban put forward ten years ago did not pass due to loud public outcry. SVG’s marine sector has grown from strength to strength since that time.
    The lack of jet skis in SVG waters is not a problem, it’s an asset. Let’s keep it that way.

  6. Randall Shearer says:

    The article makes valid points. I’ve owned a 180HP Seadoo in Canada for 20 years. These machine are fantastic adult toys, but they come with a record for accidents and deaths, second to none. We’ve been cruising the Caribbean seas for two years now, and I’m firmly of the opinion that jet skis have no place here. We’ve recently had jet skis zipping through mooring fields where swimming and snorkelling is continuous. Just last week the yacht anchored to our stern was swimming over to our vessel, and I had to stand on the stern to wave away a jet ski that was providing 60mph thrills to his passenger, cutting between our anchored yachts. Such insanity mustn’t be permitted, yet is impossible to “police”. Allow jet skis, and you’ll have this happening, guaranteed.

  7. I love jerseys,everyone will have different options motorbike are loud and dangerous,guests they should ban those too have to have a balance.

  8. Frances Hart says:

    Totally agree with Chris Doyle. Jet skiis tearing around in a bay where we are anchored or moored in our sail boat is a nightmare, especially worrying if you are swimming .We up anchor and sail enjoy peace and nature. Rodney Bay in St Lucia is dreadful. Please don’t ruin St Vincent and the Grenadines.

  9. @SKECKPAL… Yes they are in many countries, and as a lifelong sailor I avoid going wherever they are common! There’s other ways for you to move around the Grenadines for your pleasure without inflicting the displeasure of the noise and hazard jetskis cause upon everyone else!

  10. People should freely use Jet ski at anytime they please. No to big brother government in People business telling people what’s they can and cannot do in the sea. People are sick of old men in government dictating to others how to live life freely and have fun. Let the people Jet ski.

  11. Kimberly Bunch says:

    I agree with you Chris.SVG is a beautiful place and part of the charm is that there are no jet skis.i think your suggestions are reasonable and would boost boating tourism that would help local people in their businesses. Good luck advocating for this

  12. Agreed the amount of American and Canadian who lose their life on a these things. You all vote the person in by the time he is out of power svg will become another Haiti.

  13. Jamarl Simmons says:

    Alright be quite, the jetski will be placed in St.hilaire Bequia. Where there are no yachts and like most beaches in St.Vincent and the Grenadines which is doom dead. Never you lose the child within you or you become old and dry up. Fun for life. Pass the law let them talk. There is no off season in Caribbean tourism.

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