Coast Guard urges boaters, paddlers to ID non-motorized vessels

BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Coast Guard is urging New England boaters and paddlers to label their non-motorized, unregistered boats with contact information to help the Coast Guard and state boating agencies better assist mariners in distress.

Adrift, unmanned paddle craft such as canoes and kayaks, are considered a sign of distress and rescue crews are launched to search for a potential missing person.

Unlike motorized vessels, there is no requirement for kayaks, canoes, and rowboats to be registered, and each year the Coast Guard and state agencies spend thousands of dollars, man hours, and resources conducting searches involving non-motorized vessels found adrift because they were not properly tied down, or were abandoned.

“If you find an adrift boat, report it to the Coast Guard immediately by radio or cell phone and try to stay with the boat until rescue crews arrive,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Frank Benetka from Station Burlington. “When adrift boats are taken to shore and later reported to us, it can be difficult to determine where we should start searching.”

Al Johnson, the recreational boating safety specialist for the First Coast Guard District, recommends boaters use a waterproof, permanent marker to label their boat on the inner starboard, the right, side of their watercraft.

“If you are the owner of a boat that has come loose from its mooring or is missing, report it to the Coast Guard,” said Benetka. “When we find boats with ID information inside, not only are we able to quickly contact the owners to determine if someone may be in distress, but they are also able to reclaim their missing boat.”

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