SOUTH PORTLAND — The Coast Guard is urging mariners to secure their vessels after use and ensure they are clearly marked with point of contact information. In 2015 alone, Coast Guard Sector Northern New England has responded to over 35 unmanned vessels adrift in Maine and New Hampshire. In most cases, a kayak, canoe or a stand-up paddle board simply floated away on the rising tide or was blown off of a dock by a gust of wind.
“In these cases, we don’t know if the owners are in distress or not – which is why, unless evidence proves otherwise, we initiate a search and rescue effort each time,” said Lt. David Bourbeau, waterways management chief at Sector Northern New England. “We urge all paddle and oar vessel owners to securely fasten watercraft after each use and mark them with clear contact information.”
“Every time we search for what amounts to a false alert, we waste scarce resource hours and money,” said Cmdr. Jamie Frederick, chief of response, Sector Northern New England. “If we can’t confirm that an adrift vessel wasn’t in use, then we have an obligation to search for a possible person in the water, and that’s an obligation that we take very seriously. Marking your small vessel with contact information is a simple and effective way to assist us in determining non-use.”