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PSA: Label Your Paddlecraft

by Eva Seelye

KayakUnmanned paddlecrafts are plaguing Puget Sound waters and are tying up valuable response team resources in the process. In the month of July alone, the Coast Guard search and rescue crews responded to an average of one unmanned, adrift paddlecraft every day. To minimize unnecessarily expended effort and the personnel fatigue of rescue crews, the Coast Guard asks all paddlecraft owners to label their personal watercrafts with essential contact information.

Helicopter and boat crews as well as other government agency personnel spend an average of two hours per response. The Coast Guard and 911 center personnel spend about an additional four hours to investigate. In 15 percent of responses, the vessel is presumed derelict or abandoned based on damage or signs of age, 25 percent of responses were either reported lost by the owner or the owner was found, and 60 percent of responses end inconclusively with no found owner or identified reason for the adrift vessel.

To create a label that will withstand the demands of the Puget Sound, write your name and phone number on a Paddle Smart Identification Sticker with a permanent or waterproof marker and cover it with a piece of clear, waterproof tape for increased durability. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla will provide the sticker. Every unmanned paddlecraft is treated as a potential distress situation, but if the vessel is properly labeled with the owner’s contact information, a simple phone call will resolve the issue quickly.

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