The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is urging kayak owners, and other watersports enthusiasts, to clearly label their property. This comes after hours were wasted looking for the owner of a kayak in the Solent this week.
All it takes is a sharpie with a name and / or phone number. Marking-up surfboards, kayaks, SUPs, inflatables, paddles and lifejackets could help save invaluable time.
In a widely shared post (just shy of 700 shares on Facebook), the MCA asked for information about a sea kayak which was spotted drifting off Fishbourne, Isle of Wight by a passing vessel early on June 23. HM Coastguard received a report of the kayak just before 4.30am. An RNLI lifeboat from Bembridge and Ryde Inshore Rescue Service was sent to carry out a search of the area.
Had the kayak been labelled, the team could have discovered whether this was a lost item, or whether a full search was needed.
Unnecessary searches can place a huge strain on emergency resources, especially during the busy summer period, when Coastguard Rescue Teams and the RNLI are called upon to deal with such incidents.
Dai Jones, HM Coastguard duty controller, says: “We recommend that you clearly mark your equipment and other items you bring to the coast with your name and contact details so that if it is lost, stolen or abandoned, we can contact you to make sure that you are safe. This really helps us to save a lot of time, and could provide us with extra information we need to help you if we believe you’re in difficulty at sea.
“For canoeists and kayakers, our other safety advice is to wear a buoyancy aid and make sure you carry a VHF radio, so you can contact the Coastguard on Channel 16 if you get into difficulty. A Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is also a good idea for more remote locations, so an accurate position of where you are can be sent direct to the Coastguard. And, remember, to tell friends or family where you are going and when you expect to return so that they can contact us if you do not come home as expected.”
Watersports labels can be ordered free online if people don’t want to use indelible ink.