THE number of people getting into difficulties at sea is 20 to 25 per cent higher than last summer, according to the Balearic Maritime Rescue service.
Sources said that this was due chiefly to the increase in the number of yachts sailing around the islands during the summer.
The sources said that the more sailors there are, the more accidents, and added that the chief problem is mechanical failure, which leaves the boats adrift.
The next major problem is running aground, which occurs when the boats sail in shallow waters and are trapped, which can be very serious, the sources said.
Other causes of problems are fires, evacuation because of illness or accidents during the practice of sports such as windsurf and canooing.
In order to prevent such accidents, the rescue service recommended consulting weather information before putting out to sea and obtaining precise information from the National Meteorology Institute or the Maritime Rescue centres.
The sources also recommended making a list of everything which had to be taken on board before casting off, and taking every precaution.
The boat should always be in tip top condition and prepared for anything which may occur, the sources stressed, emphasising the need to maintain engines, radio equipment, life jackets and flares.
The sources said that people should use the rescue service's free phone, 900 202202, or the emergency number 112, if they have problems or if they see that a neighbouring boat has problems.
It is best to call, because if it turns out to be a real emergency then a lot of time will have been saved, the sources said. As a check list, the service recommends the following:
Check the state of the boat.
Revise navigation and communciations equipment (radio, GPS, etc); engines, including oil, fuel and water; safety equipment (life jackets, life boats, safety harnesses).
Study the weather forecast of the area where you preteng to sail, and do not put out to see if visibility is poor.
Other recommendations include always wearing a life jacket for safety when practicing windsurf, sailing or if the weather is bad, and obtain full information of routes and ports to be visited.
The rescue service also recommends drawing up a navigational plan and communicating it to the yacht club or somebody on land. You should try to stick to it, so that the alarm can be raised if you fail to arrive at the time quoted. This can save time which is vital in an emergency, the sources said.