Coast Guard assists kayaker near Key West

33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement file photo File Photo

33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement file photo File Photo

MIAMI — The Coast Guard assisted a man Monday who was being pushed out to sea in his kayak near Key West.

A Coast Guard Station Key West 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement crew found the distressed kayaker in good health, but struggling to paddle his kayak and the one he was towing, which was full of food.

At the kayaker’s request, the boat crew brought the man closer to Wisteria Island, and put him and his kayaks back in the water to finish his trip in safer water.

A Key West Police Department (KWPD) officer alerted Sector Key West watchstanders at approximately 6 p.m. of a kayaker in distress near Mallory Square.

No injuries were reported.

“We remind mariners to check the weather before going out on the water,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Harlan Kendrick, coxswain at Station Key West. “And make sure they have the proper safety equipment.”

Before you leave the dock, review these boating safety tips:

Always wear a life jacket. The Coast Guard advises all paddlers to wear a life jacket (Type I, II, III or Type V personal flotation device). Donning a life jacket is much harder once you’re in the water, especially if you’re injured.

Don’t drink and paddle. Alcohol can cause an inner ear disturbance that can make it impossible for a person who falls into the water to distinguish up from down; similar to why you cannot walk in a straight line on land.

Have a float plan. A float plan is telling someone where you are going and when you will be back. Emergency responders need this valuable information in order to search for distressed paddlers. The Coast Guard mobile app allows you to complete an electronic float plan and send it to a friend or family member.

Have a marine radio. A VHF-FM radio set to channel 16 is the best method of communication while on the water. Although cell phones are a good backup, they can be unreliable due to gaps in coverage area or a dead battery.

Check the weather. Avoid weather or water conditions beyond your skill level. Check the weather for storms, tides, currents and winds. Environmental conditions can change quickly.

Have an EPIRB or PLB. Always go out with an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Personal Locator Beacon. These devices are designed to transmit a distress signal to emergency responders through a satellite system.

Label your Watercraft. Typically, adrift paddle crafts sightings result in coordinated search and rescue missions within the local vicinity. Placing an “if found, please call” sticker on your paddle craft can not only get your craft returned to you quickly should it accidentally drift away, but it can also help rescuers to determine the type of response needed.

Share the Waterways. Learn and observe navigation rules. Stay out of paths of ships, water taxis, towboats, tugs and barges. A captain’s blind spot can extend for hundreds of feet, and their speed can be deceptive.

Plan for emergencies. Learn how to self-rescue in the event of capsize. Only take on challenges for which you are physically and mentally prepared.

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