U.S. Coast Guard Station Castle Hill
US Coast Guard Station Castle Hill
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First Coast Guard District response crews, from Maine to the Jersey shore, responded to 31 separate reports of unmanned and adrift paddlecraft during July 4 weekend, according to a U.S. Coast Guard bulletin.

Sector Northern New England crews responded to eight cases; six of the cases were suspended due to lack of information and two were resolved because the owner was found.

Sector Boston crews responded to 12 cases; seven of the cases were suspended due to lack of information and five were resolved because the owner was found.

Sector Southeastern New England crews responded to five cases; one was suspended due to lack of information and four were resolved because the owner was found.

Sector Long Island Sound crews responded to six cases and all were suspended due to lack of information.

“We search every time there is an unmanned and adrift paddlecraft found because we just don’t know if someone is missing or not,” said Brian Fleming, a search and rescue watchstander at Sector Boston. “Help us confirm your loved ones are not in distress by labeling and securing your paddlecraft.”

Through the Operation Paddle Smart Program, the Coast Guard offers owners of kayaks, canoes, standup paddleboards, and other unregistered watercraft a free “If Found” sticker for their boat to help reduce the number of unnecessary search and rescue cases. Stickers are weatherproof, reflective, and provide room for the vessel owner’s name and two phone numbers, written in waterproof marker.

Approximately, $428,300 and about 450 man-hours were spent searching for unconfirmed persons in the water.   

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to take precautions while on the water:

  • 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 wings.
  • 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.

Planning and safe boating practices save lives, reduces responder fatigue, and minimizes the waste of tax-payer dollar on unnecessary searches.

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Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.

He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.