The Lakes Belong To All Of Us
By Bobbie Nicosia
Aqua Blue Sports
As SCUBA divers, we often share the local lakes with boaters, jet
skiers, and swimmers. To let others know where we are, and to warn
watercraft and skiers to stay away, we anchor or tow a dive float
The appropriate flag for inland waters would be a rectangular red
flag with a white diagonal stripe.
When people are diving from a boat, the dive flag is usually
flown from the mast or the most visible part of the boat. Divers
entering from shore will fly their flag from a float.
Since our local laws do not regulate how close divers must remain
to the flag and how far watercraft and skiers must stay away, a
common recommendation is that divers remain and surface within 50
feet of the flag and that boats remain at least 100-200 feet away.
Many boaters are unaware of the laws concerning the use of the
diver’s flag. Even the Arizona publications differ as to the
The Arizona Boating Safety Handbook states —
Diver Down Flags:
Scuba divers or snorkelers must display a "diver down flag" that
marks their diving area. The flag must be displayed whenever someone
is diving below the surface.
Vessels should stay as far away from a "diver down flag" as is
reasonable and prudent for the circumstances. The suggested
safe distance from a flag is 100 yards.
Whereas, the Arizona Boating Laws and Regulations by the
Arizona Game and Fish Department states —
A red flag with a single white diagonal stripe, running from
staff head to opposite lower corner, shall be recognized as a diver
down flag, indicating that there are divers below the surface. In
this handbook, no distances are mentioned.
Arizona Revised Statues Title 5 Chapter 3 Article states —
5-362 Diver Flag:
A red flag with white diagonal strip from staff head to opposite
corner shall be recognized as a diver flag and shall be displayed
when a person or persons are actually diving below the water surface
and are equipped with apparatus to allow such person or persons to
breathe underwater. Again, there is no mention of distance.
We divers would be happy to the 50-60-foot clearance other
boaters should give each other. So, next time you see a diver down
flag, whether flying from a boat or anchored off shore, please give
it at least 50 feet of clearance.
Remember, the lakes belong to all of us!