Attention, Boaters! Divers Below


Attention, Boaters!

Divers Below

To the Editor:

I was free diving (mask, fins and snorkel; no SCUBA) in Otsego Lake last Thursday evening, June 13,  when I was run over by a motorboat moving at high speed.

If you see this flag, there are divers below.

No, I was not injured.  I was frightened.  I dug myself into the lake bottom to avoid injury.

A dive flag was clearly displayed, and I was within 70 feet of the Biological Field Station (BFS) boathouse dock.  Clearly, the boater involved would have been devastated if blood had been left in the water.  He seemed oblivious (as did his passenger) to the fact that he was violating at least three laws.

Each year, the BFS volunteer divers report boaters ignoring the red and white divers’-down flag and approaching the site of ongoing SCUBA diving.  The volunteers have learned to keep one diver out of the water just to direct boaters away from the diving.

In New York State, motorboats must remain 100 feet away from the divers’-down flag, and motorboats must not create wake (must drive 5 mph or less) if within 100 feet of the shoreline or any human-created fixture in the lake.

That state law is extended to 200 feet by the Otsego Lake municipalities to protect our artificially raised shorelines from erosion.

Know the law.  Take a New York Boating Safety Course.  Several are held locally each year, and there is the always available online option,

If you are unaware of the no-wake zone restrictions or the diver’s-down flag requirements, you are probably unaware of other regulations intended to keep us all safe.  Let’s be safe.

BFS Divemaster & Instruction

Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) USMC



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