Questions asked after boat roll
CALLS to boost safety at The Pass have been renewed after a dive boat flipped in the busy swimming and surf zone last week.
A witness said the Byron Bay Dive Centre boat, laden with passengers and equipment, had swerved to avoid a swimmer, then rolled over with motors running and propellers spinning in the air.
No injuries were reported but NSW Maritime is investigating.
The witness said there was a big swell on the day, a shallow bank, strong onshore current and a lot of people in the water. "It's a miracle no one was killed, with a 2.5-tonne dive boat with all the dive equipment on board rolling over in the surf zone," he said.
The witness said no one on board was wearing a life jacket.
The man, who asked for anonymity, said the accident came as no surprise to regulars at The Pass.
Dive boats routinely ignored dangerous sea conditions and put money before safety, he said.
He had seen boats go out in winds in excess of 30 knots and in dangerous swells.
The man said he had contacted NSW Maritime many times but had been told there was little that could be done as The Pass was not classified as a bar and few restrictions were placed on vessels using the area.
A spokesman for NSW Mari- time confirmed that passengers aboard commercial dive boats at The Pass did not have to wear life jackets and vessels could operate in any sea conditions.
"It does, however, reinforce the onus on the skipper to make an assessment about safe conditions, and that includes sea state.
"The skipper is responsible for the safety of their craft and all on board," the spokesman said.
The operators of Byron Bay Dive Centre said they could not comment as the incident was still under investigation.
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