Scuba diving boats in Mauritius and the PADI Promotion
PADI is about to promote scuba diving in Mauritius, and I for-see a catastrophic shortage of diving boats.
If you buy a boat in Mauritius, the regulations are overwhelming. The boat must have an ISO Rating, or it must be imported from a country with ISO standards. Then the boat must be licensed and registered with the Tourism Authority. Then it must be inspected by the Captain employed by the Tourism Authority.
When you apply for a permit to operate you must apply in the name of a company registered in Mauritius for a specific purpose- Fishing, Glass bottom Boat, Taxi, Scuba Diving, Tour Operator, Pleasure Craft, Excursion- there are a number of permits available for different activities.
That is when the problems arise. There are not many hulls available in Mauritius, and importing is expensive. Many boats are built using the same hull molds and are identically configured. However each boat is tied to the Permit, and the permit determines its function. Not necessarily the purpose for which it was designed.
The boat is then tied to the activity you have registered for your company, and you cannot rent a boat unless it is registered for scuba diving.
We have the bizarre situation where a Scuba Diving company may not rent a boat registered for excursions, no matter that the boats are identical, and that in any other oceanographic state an excursion is an excursion whether it is above or below the ocean surface.
World wide, scuba diving companies supplement the scuba diving fleet with rentals from local boat owners.
This is particularly true of Bali. Their scuba boats are all different according to the side of the Island you where you dive, and how far the dive site is from shore. But the judgement of the diving centre is trusted by the Bali authorities, and the dive shop can choose the craft they wish to rent according to their clients needs.
Aquamarine dive boat in Bali registered for deep sea excursions
Before you can operate, you have to insure the boat for its purpose- and the insurance with a regular insurance company is also underwritten by the Government of Mauritius.
Once the boat is registered insured and inspected by the Captain, then it must be commissioned by the boat builder, and the engines registered.
So identical boats which are all suitable for scuba diving may not licensed for scuba diving. And boats that are in fact fishing boats are registered for scuba diving whether they are purpose built or not. The type of boat you buy is your own choice. The Captain decides whether it is suitable for the license you have.
The rest of the world registers boats and permits, but allows the discretion of the operator to decide on the purpose.
Typical Balinese diving boat, some of the best diving n the world
Diving boat at Ahmed in Bali Room for 2 divers, a boat skipper and a dive master.
This is not the case in Mauritius, where in an Island where fuel is prohibitively expensive a diving centre is forced by the authorities to take divers out in the boats designed for diving the outer islands- sometimes with one client. Meanwhile on the beach, a smaller more economic boat is unused for months on end, while the owner slowly goes broke. When I arrived in Mauritius, we rented boats from Garou and Patricia. They grew in wealth, and shared the income from scuba diving with us. Now they are no longer allowed to rent boats to us. Its a shocking situation, makes no sense, and is creating tensions where there should be harmony.
To a diver, the boat is a means of travel from shore to the dive site. The more bizarre the boat, the more fascinating the culture of the country. The safety of the diver is in the hands of the diving centre.
The Ocean Spirit boat Chelonia Mydas, in the off season with massive engines, we take divers out to dive no matter how many.