NEWS

Careless skippers a threat at sea

Poorly trained skippers in charge of leisure boats along with irresponsible behavior in Greek waters have contributed to a drop in sea safety levels, according to experts. The president of the Panhellenic Association of Speed Boat Instructors, Giorgos Mamalis, told Kathimerini his group has repeatedly made proposals to the Merchant Marine Ministry for improving safety standards but there been no response from the government on the ideas. «There is no obligatory training (for captains) and unfortunately those responsible are not listening. When the knowledge of the person in charge of a boat is not even at a basic standard, then safety levels are automatically lowered,» said Mamalis. «There have even been a number of occasions where we have seen complete ignorance of basic sea rules and priorities that need to be adhered to,» he added. Among the most common violations committed by operators of inflatable and speedboats are speeding in areas close to bathers, an excessively large number of passengers traveling on board and sea vessels not carrying the right safety equipment, such as life jackets. The number of leisure boats sailing in Greek waters has risen in recent years, according to industry sources. Changes to the law, such as simplifying tax procedures for boats of up to 10 meters, and the introduction of GPS technology, have resulted in a growing number of Greeks taking to the seas. Data show that the number of inflatable boats of up to 10 meters in Greek waters rose in 2005 to 2,254 from 1,557 in 2001.