[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he diver down flag indicates there are scuba divers and/ or snorkelers in the water. Boaters and PWC’s should remain 200 ft. away from the flag. If you need to approach within 100 feet, use extreme caution, go slow and look for bubbles. The divers and snorkelers also have a responsibility to remain within 50’ of their flag. The intention of the flag isn’t a restriction, but to keep everyone safe, so boaters and divers can all enjoy the water together.
Divers/ Boaters in Alabama (Alabama Code Section 33-5-22)
1. A diver’s flag must be displayed on the surface of any water where skin divers are operating as may be stipulated by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
2. The diver’s flag will be at least 300 mm (12 inches) square, colored red with a white 500 mm (2 inch) stripe running diagonally from the top staff corner to the bottom fly corner.
3. Legal Requirements of Boating Other Equipment & Regulations gets specific about how far you can be from
your dive flag: 50 feet.
4. For Boaters in Alabama, vessels shall keep at least 100 feet clearance of displayed diver’s flag.
Divers/ Boaters in Florida (Chapter 27, Florida Statutes 327.331)
1.”Diver” means any person who is wholly or partially submerged in the waters of the state and is equipped with a face mask and snorkel or underwater breathing apparatus. 2.Divers-down flag specifications:
A. The flag must be square or rectangular and have a wire or stiffener to hold it fully unfurled and extended in the absence of wind.
B. The flag must be red with a white diagonal stripe that begins at the top staff-side of the flag and extends diagonally to the lower opposite corner.
C. The minimum size for any divers- down flag displayed on a float towed by the diver is 12” X 12”. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel or structure is 20” X 24”.
D. Any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel must be displayed from the highest point which provides that the visibility of the divers-down flag is not obstructed in any direction.
E. Divers shall make reasonable efforts to stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag on rivers, inlets, and navigation channels. Any person operating a vessel on a river, inlet, or navigation channel must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 100 feet from any divers-down flag.
F. Divers must make reasonable efforts to stay within 300 feet of the divers-down flag on all waters other than rivers, inlets, and navigation channels. Any person operating a vessel on waters other than a river, inlet, or navigation channel must make a reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from any divers-down flag.
G. The divers-down flag must be lowered once all divers are aboard or ashore. No person may operate any vessel displaying a divers-down flag unless the vessel has one or more divers in the water.
H. Any vessel other than a law enforcement or rescue vessel that approaches within 100 feet of a divers- down flag on a river, inlet, or navigation channel, or within 300 feet of a divers- down flag on waters other than a river, inlet, or navigation channel, must proceed no faster than is necessary to maintain headway and steerageway.
For a list and directions to all the local dive sites and freshwater springs, call Gulf Coast Divers at (251) 342-2970. Don’t let your dive skills get rusty this winter. Sheepshead season is right around the corner and it will be spring before you know it