Coast Guard suspends search for possible kayaker in distress

SAN FRANCISCO – The US Coast Guard suspended a search for a possible kayaker in distress today after a kayak washed ashore in Capitola, Calif.

At approximately 10:50 a.m. this morning, the Coast Guard was notified of an unmanned kayak that had beached itself in Capitola with no markings and a single oar onboard. A 47-foot motor lifeboat from Station Monterey and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station San Francisco were immediately launched to the scene to commence searching for a possible kayaker in distress. Crews from Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol and Santa Cruz Fire Department were onscene assisting with shoreline and waterside searches.

During the prosecution of this case, findings were presented that correlated with a case from this past Sunday where a good Samaritan recovered a kayaker after he had become separated from his kayak within the same area. During Sunday’s case, the operator’s kayak was never recovered.

After extensive searches throughout the region identified no signs of distress, at 2:14 p.m. today the search was suspended.

If anyone has further information regarding this case they are urged to contact the Coast Guard at (415) 399-3547.

Given the elements of today’s case, if owner markings had been present on the beached kayak, it may have prevented the extensive search efforts that were undertaken.

The Coast Guard Pacific Area has recently launched a new program entitled Operation Paddle Smart. Focused on small craft owners, a small self-applied, weather-proof sticker has been created to return property, reduce the number of Coast Guard resources spent on unnecessary search and rescue cases, and foster voluntary small craft owner assistance.

Each sticker provides room for the small craft owner to list his or her name, phone number, and cell phone number in case their craft is located without its operator. Greatly assisting in the initial investigation of a possible search and rescue case.

The Coast Guard strongly encourages all mariners, to report any and all lost gear to the Coast Guard including paddles, sails, kites, safety equipment, etc. Once spotted, all of these items could lead to an exhaustive, and possibly unnecessary, search by the Coast Guard and local law enforcement officials. A prior report of the gear missing or identifying information on the gear can mean the difference between an effective search and rescue effort, a missing persons report, or simply, a way to return the gear to the rightful owner.

Paddle Smart stickers are available by contacting Lt. j.g. Jeremy Pichette at (415) 748-0112.

More information concerning Paddle Smart can be found HERE.

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