Lost kayaks burden U.S. Coast Guard

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Using a sticker like this on your kayak can save the Coast Guard time and money.

Updated July 10

A spate of lost kayaks or other paddlecraft over the Independence Day holiday weekend cost the U.S. Coast Guard roughly $428,300 and 450 search and rescue hours, but yielded no emergencies, the U.S. Coast Guard announced in a release. Between New Jersey and Maine, 31 kayaks were found adrift. In Sector Southeastern New England, which encompasses the Vineyard, “crews responded to five cases; one was suspended due to lack of information, and four were resolved because the owner was found,” the release states.

In every case, “we had no confirmed reports of anybody missing,” Petty Officer Nicole Groll told The Times. To prevent unneeded search and rescue operations and to safeguard paddlecraft users, the Coast Guard recommends the following:

  • Wear your life jacket, it can save your life.
  • Label your paddlecraft with contact information. You don’t need a sticker, just a permanent marker and some clear tape to protect the ink. Check to make sure it’s readable every time you go out.
  • When you are done for the day, secure your paddlecraft well above the waterline in cases of high tide and strong winds. 
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you are going to return, so we have a good area to search if you go missing.
  • Have a light for night paddling.
  • Have a sound-making device.
  • Know your limits; paddle in safe areas under safe conditions.

“Martha’s Vineyard Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla has free ‘If Found-Contact’ stickers available, along with paddlecraft high-visibility safety stickers, and offers free paddlecraft safety inspections,” Flotilla 11-9 member Brien Helfer emailed. “For stickers or more information, please visit vineyardcgaux.org and fill out the “Contact Us” form.”

Helfer went on to write that improperly labeled and secured kayaks represent an incessant burden to the Coast Guard.