STATEMENT BY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR TOURISM
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
“SAFETY FIRST FOR POKER RUN 2017”
My fellow Virgin Islanders and residents of the BVI, we are about to celebrate Poker Run 2017, another exciting event on the BVI’s tourism calendar.
Local boaters, in addition to sailors from other parts of the Caribbean and the US mainland look forward to this annual event to show off the design and speed of their vessels.
Poker Run is one of the BVI’s signature events that continue to spark interest. This event continues to welcome thousands of visitors and over 200 vessels from Puerto Rico, Miami and the USVI. We are always excited to welcome our repeat guests and new visitors to the destination.
The BVI Tourist Board (BVITB) continues to promote the Poker Run and other events on our calendar as a compelling enticement to visit our Territory and explore the multiple experiences that we have to offer. These events create a great springboard for introducing more guests to our Territory. The Poker Run and other boating events are also excellent avenues for exposing our guests to our group of islands, each with their own character and unique experiences.
The event is also an excellent opportunity for boaters to win prizes and a charitable cause to benefit the local community.
While it is a time for celebration, the Government of the Virgin Islands has its mandates to ensure the safety of both residents and visitors to the Territory.
Hence, at this time, I call on all participants and supporters, to put safety first during this year’s activities. As we prepare to enjoy the event, I am reminding us to adhere to the rules, regulations and guidelines that have been put in place to ensure our safety.
Both captains and passengers are asked to take the necessary precautions to ensure the well-being of everyone involved. Captains should have their “kill cord” attached to them; life vests must be worn by each person on the boat; and participants are to operate only within the designated area (Leverick Bay – Trellis Bay – Foxy’s Taboo, Jost Van Dyke – Scaramouche Restaurant, Soper’s Hole Tortola – Pirates Bight, Norman Island – Tortola Pier Park, Road Harbour, Tortola).
Government agencies, the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) and Virgin Islands Shipping Registry (VISR), have both issued notices to remind boaters of various safety regulations.
The BVIPA has reminded captains and operators to adhere to the 5 knots speed limit when entering or leaving BVI harbours. When entering harbours, captains and operators should reduce speed when nearing the outermost buoys. While departing harbours, captains and operators should only increase speed after passing the outermost buoys. Captains will be held liable for any damage or injury caused by non-compliance to speed limits.
A copy of the regulations can be found online on the BVIPA’s website - www.bviports.org.
I also implore you to read the marine notice issued by the VISR for both participants and supporters. Special attention should be paid to the following particulars:
- Always maintain a sharp lookout for persons in water and other users of our waterways.
- All boats should be fit for purpose and fitted with the necessary equipment for safe navigation.
- The participants should obey the Collision Regulations as well as the rules of the Poker Run competition.
- Prepare for and practice your emergency response for accidents and incidents such as man overboard, drowning, collision and serious injury etc. prior to the Poker Run.
The marine notice can be found on the VISR page on the Government of the Virgin Islands’ website - www.bvi.gov.vg.
As for supporters, you are being asked to be aware of boats going at full speed within the area of the Poker Run during the time of the races; and avoid, if possible, water sport activities in the area of the Poker Run for the duration of the competition if possible.
I commend the organisers of Poker Run 2017 and extend best wishes for another successful event.
Let us continue to work together to keep Destination BVI a safe place to sail.