NEWS

Safety at sea is a mounting concern

The coast guard is stepping up checks and using new equipment to catch speedboat drivers who disobey the rules of the sea, but officers told Kathimerini yesterday that the onus is also on the skippers to follow the rules, especially with regard to not drinking before they take the wheel. Coast guard officers conducted 2,795 checks during the space of two weeks last month and issued fines for 161 offenses. They also conducted 45 alcohol tests during that time but did not find any offenders. Sources told Kathimerini that if someone is found to be over the alcohol limit, their boat is confiscated and they are fined. Of 826 tests administered last year, only two speedboat drivers were found to be over the limit. The fines for being found drunk at the wheel range from 147 to 29,347 euros. Not all of the tests are carried out at sea as officers also check boats when they dock at marinas. Officers also told Kathimerini that skippers are responsible for keeping their boats in good condition and making sure that there is no risk of them polluting the sea. They also need to make sure that they have all the necessary supplies on board, such as flares and life jackets. Before setting sail, they should plan their journey and know exactly how much fuel they will need to reach their destination and to return.