On July 7, 2021, at a Discussion Session, Board Director Gary Belair brought a recommendation from the Lakes Committee to the Board. Belair said, “the Lakes Committee has recommended a rule dealing with scuba diving on our lakes.” The committee wants to add a regulation to the HSVPOA Policy stating, “recreational scuba diving is not allowed.”
Lakes Committee and Staff Have Safety Concerns
Scuba diving requires the use of a “Diver Down” flag on the dive boat or a buoy of some sort creating a safety zone to warn other boaters to stay clear of the area by at least 100 feet. The committee says, “due to the relatively small size of our lakes, allowing scuba diving would restrict the use of large areas in our lakes to other boaters, due to the safety zone.”
The safety concerns include:
- The small size of the diving flag makes it difficult to see, especially in windy conditions.
- A number of Village boaters are not familiar with basic boating rules, including rules regarding boating near scuba divers.
- “No wake zones require boaters to estimate a distance of 100 feet and is likely our most regularly occurring rules violation. This ongoing violation is a good indication that many of our boaters are not able to effectively estimate a distance of 100 feet. This coupled with the difficulty seeing and understanding the “Diver Down” flag presents a real safety concern.”
Belair said the committee unanimously voted against scuba diving on Village lakes. The staff joined in with this recommendation.
Belair stated, “as much as we dislike enlarging our list of things we can’t do in the Village, we have a good representation of our residents saying, ‘we should not allow scuba diving in our lakes.'”
Directors Oppose No Scuba Diving Rule
Director Avila said, “I am strongly opposed to this rule on a number of fronts. To give boaters a pass because they don’t know the rules of boating, I find just really confusing. And that small flag that is referred to, they use that in the ocean. They use that in lakes all over the world and to say its too small for people here in the Village to see. I don’t understand that. And we don’t have that many scuba divers but we allow the boaters to boat. We allow the kayakers to kayak. We allow the swimmers to swim. I don’t understand why the scuba divers can’t dive and if some of the lakes are too small, then designate those that are large enough. But, to pass another rule of what people can’t do, for reasoning to me is not the least bit sound, I don’t get it.”
Director Omohundro stated, “what Pam said.”
Director Jones responded, “I’ve seen lake Balboa which is one of the largest lakes here and there’s hardly ever any boats out there throughout the year, except for holidays. So, even in the winter months, you can still scuba in the winter months. Why should we say they can’t do that when there are no boats out there? Maybe we just restrict July 4, don’t go scuba diving because there are boats everywhere. But to just flat out say, ‘you can’t do it at all,’ seems a little egregious to me. Along with all of the other examples that Pam mentioned, which I would have also mentioned.”
Avila said, “thank you and just one thing. Boaters need to know the rules of boating. And to say they don’t is not acceptable. You’re a boater. I don’t know about you. I was a boater for years. You have a responsibility to know the rules of boating.”
Jones agreed. “To say boaters don’t understand the rules of boating – by that means, nobody should boat then. That is dangerous on its own.”
Omohundro said he didn’t support the ‘no scuba diving rule.’ Jones said he probably won’t support it, “unless there is some kind of golden thing that comes out to sway me.”
McLeod said, “I have been out in the ocean with people with those little flags in the boats. It’s not easy to see. And I’ve come close to them, not knowing they are down there. They go down below the surface and go quite a ways away from [the flags].”
“But you are right. They should know the rules. It is a dangerous thing…It doesn’t seem to me the lakes are big enough to support all that. I could go either way.”
Omohundro said, “It is dangerous to water ski. I guess we can maybe stop people from doing that.”
Avila said, “and tubing is way more dangerous.” [laughter]
Omohundro agreed with Avila. “And golf. People get hit with golf balls so we might want to shut down the courses,” continued Omohundro.
Due to lack of support, this issue will not be brought before the Board for a vote at the next regular Board meeting.
By Cheryl Dowden, July 7, 2021
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07/07/2021 — 6:05 pm
I have to say I agree with Avila, Jones, Omohundro and to some extent with McLeod on this one. Bellaire, staff and committee are nuts. We don’t need more rules and restrictions, particularly those that wouldn’t be enforced anyway. It appears that most of the boating rules are very loosely enforced, if at all.
I say this with some background too, having done a lot of boating in my life and also being a certified diver for about 50 years. To start with, most divers would have no interest in diving in our lakes, particularly the shallow puddles on the East end. There’s not much to see. Period. But why restrict all diving.? Some folks might just want to refresh their skills or test their equipment or whatever before a trip to Cozumel.
And our big lakes are quite clear which is a plus compared to most lakes across the country. Perhaps a scuba club might be a draw for the future and folks could earn their open water certificate here. Not to mention that any certified diver has had a lot more training on safety, including avoiding boats, than probably 99.9% of the high power boat jockeys plying our lakes from outside – which we seem glad to allow with virtually no restrictions.
07/07/2021 — 8:03 pm
I have fished Balboa and find the water to be real clear. I would like to dive it, not on a busy day (divers are not stupid), just to enjoy the clarity and sound of my bubbles.
07/08/2021 — 7:40 pm
My husband and I are both certified divers and we have dove in lake Cortez. We dove just off the damn where all the rocks are. It was really nice. The visibility was excellent for a lake dive. We saw lots of fish and some turtles. We got into a school of baitfish which was surprising and neat. We did however have a problem on one occasion while diving on Lake Cortez. We had our dive flags out and we had several boaters come very close because they did not know what our flags represented! As a boater that is your responsibility! We have not dove in several years but I think it would be a shame to not allow divers on our lakes, especially the larger ones. Also when one losses gear in the lake a scuba diver comes in real handy! We are also guilty of that! Just saying don’t get carried away with so many rules and regulations.