Coast Guard urges owners to label their paddlecraft
SEATTLE — In the month of July search and rescue crews responded to an average of one unmanned-adrift paddlecraft in the Puget Sound region every day, and now the Coast Guard seeks the help of all owners of kayaks, canoes and other paddlecraft to label their vessel with essential contact information.
Every unmanned-adrift paddlecraft is treated as a potential distress situation, however, when the craft is properly labelled the situation can often be quickly resolved with a phone call to the vessel owner, which minimizes personnel fatigue and negative impacts on crew readiness.
Paddlecraft owners should label their vessel using a permanent or waterproof marker covered with clear waterproof tape for increased durability, or check with their local outdoor recreation retailer or Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla to obtain a Paddle Smart Identification Sticker. At the very least the label should include the name of the owner, a number to reach them and a secondary point of contact.
In 60 percent of the responses the owner or reason for the adrift vessel was never found and the search was suspended with no signs of distress. In 25 percent of the responses the owner is found or they contacted the Coast Guard to state they had lost their craft. In 15 percent of the responses, the vessel was presumed abandoned/derelict based on damage or signs of age.
Helicopter crews and boat crews individually search an average of two hours per response with a similar amount of search-time spent by other government agency personnel, as well as an additional four hours of investigation by Coast Guard command center and 911 center personnel.