As of June 2014, the White-Miskell Act is law in Florida. With Governor Scott’s signature, it feels as if a hard fought battle has finally been won. We didn’t get everything we wanted or need, but after seven years of trying, Florida citizens at least have some minimal protection against those parasailing operators who put money ahead of safety.
What we got:
- An act that amends the Florida Statutes by adding Section 327.375, “Commercial parasailing” and all the provisions regulating the activity.
- Operators must meet Coast Guard standards for transporting passengers.
- Operators must have liability insurance – $1 million per incident and $2 million annual aggregate. (And they have to furnish proof to their customers!)
- Commercial parasailing vessels must have a VHF transceiver as well as a dedicated device for weather updates. The second device must be able to get National Weather Service forecasts.
- Operators must keep a weather log, demonstrating they are tracking current and expected weather conditions, and the log has to be made available for inspection.
- Parasailing is prohibited when the wind is too strong, there is rain or fog, or there is a lightning storm within seven miles.
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What we didn’t get:
Unfortunately, there is nothing in the bill about maintaining parasailing equipment. It also doesn’t set any standards for regulating training or inspections. While it is possible that insurance companies providing the liability policies would require operators to meet minimal standards, this is not part of the law itself.
We still need some way to keep shoddy operators from preying on unwitting tourists, tourists who naively believe that parasailing companies are properly supervised and inspected. It’s pretty upsetting that carnival rides, which might not even lift someone ten feet off the ground, get more checks and maintenance than the parasailing equipment which can lift you up 200 feet.
We would have also liked to see a provision on training commercial parasailing operators. It’s simply not enough to know how to run a boat and towing a parasailer is not the equivalent of pulling a water-skier.
A HUGE Thank you!
If there is one bright and shining thing to come out of this, it’s the wonderful support we have received, both from our online petition and the interest shown by the public in this cause. With all the negativity surrounding politics, both in our state and nationally, it’s great to see people gather together and have it pay off.
A special thanks to Senators Maria Sachs, Gwen Margolis, and Eleanor Sobel. Without their recognition of the problem and willingness to lend their support, this wouldn’t have happened. I’d very much encourage my readers to reach out to these women and thank them with an email or phone call. These links connect to each senator’s online profile and you can click a button to send an email.
Sen. Sachs: http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s34
Sen. Margolis: http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s35
Sen. Sobel: http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/s33
All it takes is a minute to send a quick thank you, and believe me, it will mean the world to them. Let’s not be that bunch that only gets loud when we need something – a heartfelt thank you goes a long way.
Debi Chalik spoke to Hi Riser Magazine about the new parasailing regulations.