Unmanned kayaks cause many problems: not only for the people who lost them but also for the US Coast Guard along with state and local authorities.
Whenever an unmanned kayak is spotted, it is assumed there is a paddler who has capsized, is in the water and potentially drowning. The US Coast Guard and local authorities, then, must take each and every one of these unmanned kayak situations as if someone's life is in danger.
These unmanned kayak searches are common all over the country- each involving a number of crew members, vessels, and other resources of the Coat Guard. It has been estimated that a full crew searching for someone costs $113,000 per hour! Several hours of searching or discovering that no one was missing in the first place can tally into the millions of dollars.
While not all instances, many of these unmanned kayak situations result from kayaks being stored too close to the tide, allowing the boat to be swept away unnoticed as the tide rises.
Officer Nicole Groll of the US Coast Guard commented, "Since January, we've had a lot of unmanned kayak and adrift kayak cases in New England. And by a lot, we're talking about 60 cases.” These occurrences are more frequent in the peak months of summer as seasonal participation increases, too.
To prevent these situations, the US Coast Guard has been passing out and encouraging the use of orange reflective IF FOUND - CONTACT stickers with blanks for a name and phone number. Teams have gone out to boat launches and harbors passing them out and encouraging people to put them on their kayaks.
When a kayak is found adrift with an If Found Contact sticker and the authorities can confirm with a quick phone call that no one is actually in danger, millions of search and rescue dollars and a lot effort will be saved.
If you have access to these stickers or can get them locally, please do so. If needed, you may purchase one for $2.00 in the paddling.com store. Note that the cost is to defray some of our shipping and handling costs. First and foremost, always paddle safely!
Want more info? Here is the original news story from NBC10 Boston.
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