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ID Your Small Craft

By Tom Richardson
An ID sticker can help responders quickly determine if an unmanned vessel was accidentally set adrift.

Each year, the Coast Guard, state wardens, fish & game officials, local fire and police departments, and other search & rescue personnel respond to calls of unoccupied canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and rowboats found floating on the water or beached. In most cases, it turns out that the vessel simply went adrift due to high water or wind events, or someone carelessly leaving the vessel unattended; however, each incident needs to be treated as a potential search & rescue event, resulting in the expenditure of costly time, resources, and manpower. Additionally, unnecessary searches can tie up resources that could be needed in a true emergency.

Free waterproof vessel ID stickers are available at many marine-supply stores, marinas, harbormasters' offices, and sporting goods stores.

Obviously, the best and easiest solution to prevent unnecessary search & rescue missions is to make sure your light craft are secured after use or at least pulled far above any potential high-water mark.

Additionally, labeling your watercraft with an ID sticker can assist responders in determining if a true emergency exists. This can prevent unnecessary searches, save thousands of dollars in associated search costs, and enable your vessel to be returned.

Vessel ID stickers can often be obtained from local game wardens, Coast Guard auxiliary units, marine patrol offices, harbormasters, marinas, sporting-goods and marine-supply stores, or at sporting and boating expos.


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