by Lois Jones
TWENTY per cent of sail boat emergencies in Spain last year occurred in the Balearics. The figure was the second highest throughout Spain, coming second only to Catalonia, where 28.6 percent of incidents took place This was revealed by the central government representative in the Balearics, Miquel Ramis during the opening of a Summer 2003 campaign for furthering safety at sea. He was accompanied by the Chief of the Merchant Marine in the Balearics, José Fernando Escalas and the Head of Sea Rescue in Palma, Miguel Chicón. The aim of the campaign is the prevention of accidents and identification of risks in water sports, explained Ramis.
There has been a significant increase in emergencies attended to by the Sea Rescue Service in Palma. The first six months of 2002 registered 130 incidents but 156 were recorded for the same period this year. Ramis was quick to point out that these figures mostly entailed response by the Rescue services to calls for assistance following mechanical failure. The second most frequent cause for raising the alarm was for the recuperation of dangerous objects which had gone adrift. Accidents at sea this year have totalled 27. Reasons for them happening were mostly due to craft running aground, although there were also incidents of fire, collision and capsizing. Ramis also pointed out that in May this year there were 39 alarm calls and 67 in June.

It is believed that one of the causes for such statistics is the exceptionally good weather of late when favourable conditions for water sports have prevailed on an ongoing basis. With a pleasure craft flotilla of 37'861, Baleares is the region of Spain with the third highest number of pleasure craft including jet skis.