Changes loom for parasailing operations in MB

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach City Council is looking to make changes to the way parasail operators do business along the Grand Strand.

The council hopes the changes will make the sport safer for both those out for the adventure and those on the beach. On Tuesday, council gave the OK on first reading to the changes.

David Hearl has operated a beach business in Myrtle Beach for 18 years at Downwind Sails, and says he helped the city look at what changes could be made after last year's accident in Ocean Isle Beach, NC.

"We've been doing it a long time. We've had a good safety record - South Carolina's had a good safety record," said Hearl.  "If those guys would have had the rules and regulations in place in South Carolina, then that accident should have probably would have never happened."

The city's Beach Advisory Committee suggests council require businesses to check the weather forecast from the National Weather Service each day before the first flight. They want the operator to print the weather forecast for the day, and keep it in the rental booth and available for inspection by law enforcement.

Also, the city would require operators to have a wind measuring device on each boat. They wouldn't be allowed to operate when winds get over 18 mph. Previously, it was 20 m.p.h.

Finally, operators would have to stay 600 yards from shore and any other boat. Current rules say they only have to stay 400 yards away.

City of Myrtle Beach spokesperson Mark Kruea says the regulations should help make the activity safer.

"In light of the accident, the horrible accident up in North Carolina last year, we've begun to look at our regulations to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make the parasailing activity as safe as possible," said Kruea. "The Coast Guard is looking at what occurred in North Carolina. We would eventually expect some regulations to come from the Coast Guard. We'd like to be ahead of the curve so we've adopted or are adopting new rules for our parasailing operators."

Council is expected to take a final vote at their next meeting on April 27.

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