Jams yesterday, rain tomorrow as crowds head for the coast

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The Independent Online

Bank holiday motorists were forced to endure miles of tailbacks yesterday as the prospect of sweltering temperatures and reopened footpaths sent them heading for the coast. The AA said traffic on the M25 and the M5 was crawling much of the day, with families forced to sit in cars as temperatures reached the mid-20s centigrade.

Bank holiday motorists were forced to endure miles of tailbacks yesterday as the prospect of sweltering temperatures and reopened footpaths sent them heading for the coast. The AA said traffic on the M25 and the M5 was crawling much of the day, with families forced to sit in cars as temperatures reached the mid-20s centigrade.

The highest temperature reading was 24 centigrade at Coltishall, Norfolk, and there was unbroken sunshine across much of the country. But today is expected to be cloudy with the threat of rain on Monday in all but the south-east.

In North Devon yesterday a pair of canoeists who set off to make a 20-mile sea crossing in thick fog had to be rescued after calling for help on a mobile phone. The holidaymakers were trying to paddle from Clovelly to the island of Lundy but they got lost in poor visibility. The men, aged 33 and 60, and both from Reading, Berkshire, called coastguards who mounted a major air and sea search with a helicopter from RAF Chivenor, near Barnstaple, North Devon, the Appledore lifeboat and the Clovelly inshore lifeboat.

Those who managed to reach their holiday destinations safely were likely to find their peace and possibly safety threatened by jet-skis. But some relief could be on the way. Ministers are considering a new system of fines for jetskiers who cut up swimmers and break speed limits, and transport officials are also drawing up plans for jet-skis to be tagged with an electronic chip to ensure they can be tracked by harbourmasters.

These penalties and curbs are expected to be included in the Merchant Shipping Safety bill intended to impose drink-driving limits on sailors.

Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents show jet-skis, or personal water-craft, cause between two and five deaths a year involving UK citizens. Last week, a British tourist, Claire Kay, was killed in Turkey after she was in collision with a jet-ski.

Manufacturers including Kawasaki are developing quieter engines comparable to car instead of motorbike engines. Some models are on sale, with a full roll-out expected in 2003.

But environmental groups are still concerned about the effect the craft will have on schools of bottle-nose dolphins which are found off the south-west coast.

Last year, laws were passed making it an offence to "recklessly harass" whales, porpoises, basking sharks and dolphins. But day-trippers are already ignoring warnings to stay away from the dolphins, says the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

"They think the animals can escape but dolphins with calves have to come the surface and they can't move very quickly," said Society spokesman Mark Simmonds.

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