After rescuing a couple from the sea off Kalo Limenes, Crete, last weekend, the Greek Coast Guard sent a bill for its services so that the taxpayer-funded agency can be reimbursed for its trouble.
A major search and rescue operation had been launched on Saturday for the 45-year old man and his 39-year-old girlfriend, who had set out on the water off Crete despite a small boat advisory posted by the Coast Guard.
The winds were very strong in the area last Saturday afternoon when they set out from the port of Kalo Limenes, causing the advisory to be broadcasted to all mariners in the area.
Ignoring the advisory, the couple rented a small motorboat and took off on a pleasure cruise. Before long, the winds caused their craft to overturn.
According to the local website cretapost.gr, the 45-year-old man somehow managed to swim while holding on to his girlfriend — who had lost consciousness — with one hand. Although she slipped from his hands multiple times, he did not abandon her and was able to swim toward shore for an incredible one and a half hours.
Almost miraculously, he was able to reach a cave on an island before collapsing.
Mariners defied Coast Guard Advisory before setting out
However, despite his valiant efforts to make it to shore and keep his girlfriend alive, The 45-year-old has been asked to reimburse the Coast Guard for the expenses of the operation that was set up for their search and rescue.
As provided by the decision of officials from the Coast Guard, fines will be imposed on all those who defy severe weather advisories and unnecessarily cause mobilization of their staff in search and rescue efforts due to their own fault.
It is noted that the vessel used in the rescue operation in Kalou Limenas was an offshore patrol ship whose use, according to cretapost, costs a whopping 1,894 euros per hour.
The couple has been discharged from Venizelio Hospital in Heraklion, as they are now in good health. The man had been hospitalized in the pulmonology clinic as he was having trouble breathing, while the woman was hospitalized in the pathology clinic.
On Saturday, their boat had been found abandoned in the sea. A major search and rescue operation was then launched with the large offshore Coast Guard vessel.
According to information reported at the time, one of the people was Greek and the other was a foreigner. Their motorboat was open, without a large cabin, and was just five meters (fifteen feet) long. There had been no witnesses to the capsize, leading to a frantic effort on the part of the Coast Guard to locate the two on the open water.
The searches involved individuals and vessels from the harbor authorities, as well as the Greek Coast Guard.
The weather conditions prevailing at the time in the area south of Heraklion were unfavorable, with very strong wind and large waves.