The Big Blue Barrel

Belize Parasail And The Big Blue Barrel: Or, the Safety Blog

Folks around San Pedro may sometimes see our parachute flying with a large, blue barrel hanging from it and wonder why we would do such a thing. Well, here at Belize Parasail Plus, safety is without a doubt our first priority, so much so, in fact, that we recently brought in trainers from the US to train our staff and to certify that our equipment meets all US safety standards for parasailing. In fact, not only do we regularly inspect our equipment, but we also regularly send our chutes and harnesses back to the US for inspection and repair, and we always retire and replace any equipment that is no longer deemed 100% safe. (If you have questions about our safety procedures or about the safety of parasailing in general, don’t hesitate to ask; we love to talk about all of the cool stuff we learned.)

Now, back to the blue bucket—that’s a training method that we use for our crew to practice their skills using different parachutes and different weights in different weather conditions. We have a number of parachutes and each one is designed to fly in varying weather conditions and to carry guests of different weights. We make it a point to practice with all of our chutes in all sorts of conditions, and we fill the barrel with varying levels of water to simulate a variety of guests. This prepares our crew to operate professionally and safely in myriad circumstances. Flying the Big Blue Barrel is also a great way for newer staff members to get experience and for our more experienced crew to stay on top of their game. We want to make sure that our staff is the best on the island, so we practice.

So, here’s a little more about our training. Back in April, Lee and Kat Abbott from Custom Watersports and pioneers in the development of parasailing procedures, equipment, and safety visited San Pedro to train 6 employees and co-owner, MaryAnn Bartlett. The Abbott family is legendary in the parasailing world. Lee’s grandfather was instrumental in bringing the sport to the general public and even built a special parachute to fly Lee as a toddler; Lee’s dad developed the type of chute that is currently the most used parachute throughout the world. Lee, too, has spent his life developing equipment and procedures to make the sport safer and more fun for flyers.

Our training was based on US guidelines approved by the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) and consisted of both classroom and practical application. During the week our staff learned about equipment function and maintenance, weather safety, flight instruction, boat operation, rescue procedures, and best practices in customer service. Even though some of our staff members had been flying for years, we all still learned a lot about improvements in equipment and the industry in general, and our crew was excited to earn their WSIA certificates.

So, if you see our parachute up with a big, blue barrel, just know that we are working hard to meet the most stringent safety standards in the world.

Check out some of our training photos.


~Patsy Fowler