Share this story...
coast guard
Latest News

Adrift paddleboards, kayaks wasting the Coast Guard’s time, money

Stars mark the location of unmanned-adrift paddlecraft reported to Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound personnel since the first of the month, July 24, 2018. (U.S. Coast Guard image by Scott Giard)

A true sign of summer in the Northwest; the Coast Guard is basically tired of retrieving your stray paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes.

“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,” according to the Coast Guard.

The problem is that every unmanned-adrift paddlecraft is treated as a potential distress situation, which takes up time and resources. It is unknown if a person is also adrift in the water, and officials have to search. The Coast Guard says helicopter crews and boat crews each spend about two hours, on average, per response. The Coast Guard command center and 911 center spends another four hours investigating.

There is a solution. To speed up the process, the Coast Guard is asking paddlers and kayakers to label vessels so that they can make a quick phone call to make sure everything is OK.

It will “minimize personnel fatigue and negative impacts on crew readiness.”

Use a waterproof marker, write your name, phone number, and an emergency contact, and cover it with waterproof tape. Or pick up a “Paddle Smart Identification Sticker” from a local outdoor recreation store or Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla.

The Coast Guard says in 60 percent of the responses, “the owner or reason for the adrift vessel was never found and the search was suspended.” About 25 percent of the responses result in reuniting the owner with the vessel. In 15 percent of the responses, the vessel was presumed derelict.

Stray water vessels create a similar problem as abandoned bicycles on the state ferries. Earlier this year, the Coast Guard reported that a single rideshare bike left on a ferry cost a whopping $17,000. When a bicycle is left on a ferry, the vessel’s personnel and Coast Guard are required to treat it as a “distress situation.” It can take hours to verify there isn’t a missing person.

Most Popular