With a surprising step, the Greek coast guard caused a sensation: In a circular, the Hellenic Coast Guard informed its branch offices that in future water sports enthusiasts who leave despite weather warnings from the Greek authorities and weather services will be included in the costs of possible later rescue operations and will be fined can. This is reported by a number of Greek media.
The letter informs the local authorities that in cases where water sports enthusiasts carelessly initiate a large-scale rescue operation, despite severe weather warnings from the weather services and port authorities, the police authorities will be instructed to investigate the rescued and in the event of a crime to use the existing legal penalties out of thoughtlessness. The Greek law has provided for this possibility for a long time, but little use has been made of it so far.
This is necessary in view of the sharp increase in the number of apparently reckless water sports enthusiasts, which also endanger the lives of volunteers and civil servants during the operations.
In the original English text it says
"In the light of the foregoing, in view of the increase in search and rescue incidents involving persons making use of the means provided for in (b), with view to avoiding, as far as possible and in any way, future events, which give excessive and unnecessary burden to the staff involved, as well as the uncertainty of their successful outcome, often endangering the lives of people who self-serving the community as whole, at the fault of the private sector of them, especially when they occur under extremely adverse weather conditions, known in many ways to any natural person (at least through the 21st century mediand social media), including: 4.1 Intensify police inspections for compliance with Article 33 (b) related to the use of marine recreational facilities in adverse weather conditions, and, in the event of an infringement of that provision, to impose the penalties provided for
4.2 Properly inform your Service and Port Authority personnel of the above, as well as maritime clubs, marine leaseholders and high-speed boat owners operating in your are of responsibility, in accordance with the provisions of C20."
They felt compelled to take this step, since some rescue operations had caused quite a stir. Around Christmas a 52-year-old surfer went surfing with a wind forecast of 40 to 46 knots and corresponding weather warnings and was driven out to sea. In another case, a stand-up paddler east of Athens had problems with forecast gusts of 47 to 63 knots at sea. In both cases, the people were rescued in large-scale rescue operations. Specific examples of sailing yacht skippers who carelessly initiated rescue operations were not given.
Should water sports enthusiasts be involved in the costs of such operations, this could quickly become very expensive. According to some Greek media, the Coast Guard put the cost of a helicopter operation at up to 4,000 euros per hour.
The surprisingly strict approach of the authorities fits in with a line that Greece has been following for a number of years. So every now and then skippers of charter ships who had some basic contact and had to be towed free or where crew members were injured on board were officially charged in court for endangering shipping. Although such processes usually end with a relatively low fine of a few hundred euros, the requirement to be present in court and the need to hire a Greek lawyer can quickly turn into money.
Charter skippers are therefore well advised to heed the weather warnings from the Greek authorities and to stay in port if there are warnings. If the forecast announces very bad weather, it makes sense to follow the Greek forecasts on VHF channel 16 or to keep an eye on the website of the Greek weather service. The current warnings are noted directly above on the start page.
In any case, many charter contracts stipulate that one may no longer expire at more than 7 Beaufort or a more precisely defined node limit. In larger ports with professional port offices, these are sometimes even officially closed during severe storms, and sailing is then prohibited. This happens quite often for the Athens area or large islands in autumn and spring.