Living on an island which is invaded each summer by pleasure boats makes the following story worth noting.
In Mid – August there was a holiday tragedy in the sea near Perdika, Aegina. Aegina lies off the coast of Athens and is a popular island for Athenians and one which tourists can day-trip easily and quickly from Athens and spend a few hours.
The incident was a collision between a speedy pleasure boat and a slow moving excursion boat. The excursion boat, “Antonia” was ferrying 20 people from the port of Perdika, Aegina to a beach on the small island of Moni. Like hundreds of similar boats all over Greece, this was the Antonia’s business and she made the short journey back and forth several times a day. Moni is only 500 meters off the coast of Aegina, about the distance from Milia beach Skopelos to Dasia Islet offshore.
About mid-way across the open sea between the two islands, the speedboat “Duende”, traveling from the northwest, sliced through the middle of the Antonia, killing immediately her skipper, two adults and a 5 year old child, throwing other passengers into the sea and sinking the tourist boat.
To further escalate the tragedy, Duende, only slightly damaged (see photo), did not stop to offer assistance. Saying he feared that his boat might sink, the captain drove his boat 6km back to the marina at Aegina instead of the 500 meters to the port of Perdika.[Correction: I read in an article this morning(link) 30 Aug that the Duende was driven to Perdika where the occupants took a taxi to Aegina town.] The skipper’s first calls were not to alert the Coast Guard but to friends on Aegina who (the court found) might be of assistance in helping the captain escape.
He turned himself in to the Coast Guard at Aegina two and a half hours after the accident.
Since then the captain has appeared in court at least twice and remanded under house arrest in Kolonaki. Publicly his condition has morphed from physically fit to operate a boat (a requirement by law) to a human wreck who needs oxygen to breathe, is constantly at risk of heart attack or stroke, and has failed kidneys etc etc. Despite his ailments, his license to drive a motorboat was renewed two years ago as well as his license to drive a motorcycle.
Meanwhile the dead have been buried and the survivors are slowly recovering.
Among other pertinent issues, the story is of well connected wealth versus a vulnerable public. It will also be a story of the dicey business of licensing (in many fields). A license is required for any pleasure boat with an engine of more than 35 horsepower for which a written and practical test is administered by the Coast Guard and must be passed before the license is granted. Skopelos has hundreds of visiting pleasure boats every summer, many responsibly handled and others not so.
By the way, among other requirements, the
International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (Colregs) state under the Safe Speed section:
Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.
In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account:
(a) By all vessels:
• (i) the state of visibility;
• (ii) the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels;
• (iii) the maneuverability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions;
• (iv) at night the presence of background light such as from shore lights or from back scatter of her own lights;
• (v) the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards;
• (vi) the draught in relation to the available depth of water.