This week another boat incident was mentioned in a post on SpearOZ.org called Divers Beware!!!. The incident was at Malabar and luckily the boat only managed to catch the float line and rip the gun out of the divers hand. See more from the link above.
This rekindled the discussion on changing the Dive Flag we spear fishermen currently use on our floats. We are generally in agreement that the international diver down flag (red with white diagonal line) is better due to its increased visibility on the water. Efforts are being made by various people to make this change for our safety.
Special note: The blue and white Alpha flag is required to be flown on a boat when you have a diver in the water. This is required by the International Rules for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (IRPCS) Rule 27 (e).
For your own safety, always dive with a float and flag. Probably the most dangerous part of our sport is boat traffic so making an effort to be seen is in everyone’s best interest.
History of the Diver Down Flag
Discharged from the U.S. Navy on August 16, 1949 Denzel James Dockery began his newly acquired trade of Diving with a home built “SCUBA” rig manufactured from a plan published in an issue of the “Popular Mechanics” magazine. After serving a period of apprentice with his new equipment and now newly wed to Ruth Evelyn Carlson, it became painfully apparent that the “Baker” flag he had used in the Navy was not recognized by civilian marine operators. The “Baker” flag is a solid red DANGER flag displayed by Navy personal when there were divers at work nearby. “Doc”, as he was nick named, was using the flag as he had in the Navy, but no one was honoring its presents. Together he and Ruth fabricated a “Red” flag with a white stripe running across its middle. This flag showed the same pattern when viewed from either side. The Dockerys soon discovered that their flag was a copy of a National Flag used by Austria. After much research the White Stripe was quickly moved to Run from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. The flag was a little more difficult for Ruth to sew but was a true original “DIVER DOWN FLAG”. It did not represent any country or organization that they could find. The “Divers Flag” was born. The fact that it reversed its self when viewed from the back was a necessary but acceptable trade off. Doc used the flag in his work and promoted it through the “Cuadro Pescadores” Diving Club that they belonged to. During the early 1950’s the Dockery’s opened a “garage” Dive Shop in Flint, MI and sold the flag to local Divers. A sales representative for U.S. Divers named Ted Nixon saw their flag and offered to sell it Nationally while calling on his regular customers. With Ted’s contacts the flag really sold. Ruth spent most of her spare time sewing flags by the hundreds. Meanwhile, Doc and the club members worked to get the flag recognized by the Michigan State Legislature as a means of protecting SCUBA Divers from marine traffic. Also, the newly formed Great Lakes Diving Council began promoting The FLAG to the Legislators of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Each of the Legislations in turn passed laws forcing penalties to be levied against Divers who did not use The FLAG but gave the Diver no legal protection against boaters while using it. Their efforts had “BACKFIRED”. By this time many other companies were making The Flag and Doc & Ruth decided it was time to drop out of the picture and direct their attention to their growing Diving business. The Diving industry has rewarded them with a comfortable life style and a small place in the HISTORY OF DIVING.
Fathom magazine – 1971