Advice needed...found lost boat and phone today on river

Frank and I were paddling a tree filled shallow forest river today. After having to portage three times due to log jams we came upon a rec kayak with new shoes, a fishing pole, a clear case with fishing gear, and a phone in a waterproof case. It was wedge in against a log in the river. We pulled it across to a sand bar and tied it to a tree near the top of the bank. When I tried to power it up it came on with a Low Battery message and turned back off. There was a broken twig in the seat on top of the personal items. the bow paint wasn’t tied to the log. there was no name or contact info with the boat.

It rained at my house overnight but not at Frank’s in Clemson two hours away the river is about an hour north of me. There was no water in the boat but some dried mud and a dead leaf in the seat, with some dried mud on the phone. We think this is a recent event.

Our conclusion on what to do was to leave everything in the boat but put the phone and shoes in a hatch. If we had been separated from our boat with an expensive phone in the seat, we would be back to look for it. Therefore, leave it to be found and not drift down river. I will go back after the weekend and check to see if the boat has been found by the owner. Probably contact the county sheriff and see if it has been reported missing, I have GPs location I can share.

The gear in the seat suggests to us that that boat floated away from the owner in the near past, and that the owner didn’t capsize. It couldn’t have made it past the portages. So probably had to put in down river and paddled up stream before being separated from the owner. there is a bridge about a mile downstream and a house just before the bridge. I don’t know of any easy access otherwise. However, the owner could have put in upriver and become separated after the last of the portages.

What Would You Have Done? Any advice on what I should do if the boat is still there after the weekend.

Saw a couple of eagles in the distance on a dead tree. Can you spot them?

This is the view I usually get.

Log jam and newly fallen trees. There were numerous new green trees down in the river from heavy rains earlier in the year. The log jams always are full of trash.


Partly cloudy with a fairly steady wind made for a comfortable day on the water. The high of 91 made for sweaty portages.

There is only one house on the Enoree and one on the Broad River. Here is the one on the Broad.

Cliff swallows under the bridge near the take out.

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I think I’ll call the county sheriff’s office in the morning. It worries me. I have contact info in my boats wish this person did.

Something I left out, but just remembered there was an unopened soda can in the seat, and twice as we were paddling downstream before finding the boat, I saw a recently left single empty can on two different sandbars. I don’t recall clearly but think they may have been similar cans. Just another clue.

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Definitely call the sheriff in the morning. They will know if there’s a missing person reported in the area. If there is, it will give them clues where to look. If there isn’t, they can list the items found on social media to try and locate the owner.

Call the police now!

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I’d have called the emergency personnel immediately. People don’t leave phones and shoes in floating boats. Maybe someone didn’t capsize but could have fallen getting back in and got hurt or worse.

Maybe folks are more nonchalant upstate on inland waters but in coastal areas the Coast Guard routinely issues Pan-Pans for dinghies, canoes and kayaks found floating. So they at least take it seriously.

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Call the police, maybe take the cell phone home and charge it up to check for contact info if the police were not likely to be right on it.

Give phone to Police immediately.

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I would have called the police immediately. An empty boat with fresh signs of activity could be a tragic situation. Better safe than sorry.

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Just a quick observation, looked again and both the hatch covers are sucked in. Meaning that the boat went thru some chillier temperatures, like maybe overnight. Suspect that the person with whom it was associated is more than a day away from being with the boat.

I did check for missing persons and have contacted the Sheriffs. They are going to recover the boat. Haven’t heard from them this morning. Will post when I learn something

Yes, Celia we felt like it had been on the water for more than a day, but hard to tell. It’s not an easy place on the river to get to by motorboat.

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FWIW, this could be textbook on how to disappear. We had a guy where I worked simply disappear some years ago, apparently it was easier than dealing with the kids they had adopted and bills. Marriage was annulled and whatever declared so his wife could get on with things, though he left her in ra otten state.

He was spotted 15 or so years later employed at the other end of the state with a new identity.

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The sheriff’s office got back with me and think they have found the owner. Lost the boat last week. photo of the phone the owner had looks like a match for the phone we saw. They will let me know if it is his. They are pretty sure it is at this point in time.

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It would be great to hear the end of the story.

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Not filled with water implies someone planned to come back for it. Not sure why they didn’t take the phone though.

What I know so far. A group were out on the river on Memorial Day weekend and two kayaks went missing. They thought they had sunk. They had to walk 3 miles to get out of the woods. The owner of the kayak says there were no shoes in the boat, but his phone was. So, there are some discrepancies between what we found and what they recall. The sheriff’s office flew a helicopter over the river and think it’s not there. When told this by the Sargent I said they couldn’t see it from a helicopter because at the sand bar we pulled it up to the steep bank and tied it to a tree. It was off the river under a thick canopy.

So, as I was typing this, I got a call from the owner. Here is what he said happened. He and a 13 year old boy were on the river Sunday May 29th. They were just paddling the river not fishing. They put in at Brazzlemans bridge just like we did. When they got to the first portage they took out. When putting back in he couldn’t make a sharp turn and capsized. The boat sank. I assume the same thing happened with the boy, but he didn’t say. He tried to get it up but couldn’t and let it go. It disappeared. They walked down stream looking for it and ended up walking all the way down to Keitt’s Bridge It took 3 hours. It’s 5.6 miles from Barzzleman’s to Keitt’s. They probably walked a very difficult 3 miles.

The boat looked like it had had mud stuck to the seat, and phone, but the fishing tackle didn’t the shoes didn’t either. The owner said the shoes and fishing tackle aren’t his. Seems someone else (fishing maybe) may have found the boat before we did. Probably days ago, since the inside of the boat was drained and dry. couldn’t get it out and needed a paddle. The shoes however are harder to explain as I would not walk barefooted in that terrain. The owner is at work but may try to look for the boat this evening. Strange twist to the story.

Owner said they would let me know what happens. Sheriff department have called off any search.

I paddle the coast and it is an easy call on channel 16 to report something like this. For various reasons this never smelled like a tragedy. My cell phone is turned off and put away because coverage is sparse. After getting home and thinking further about it I checked on missing persons on the Enoree. Found no recent info and contacted the county sheriff’s office.

Enoree River: Brazlemans Bridge Road to Keitts Bridge Landing (gopaddlesc.com)

Ok. I am totally enthralled now.

Unintended loaner boat? Sounds like the boat had some fun.

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Found this boat several years ago after a significant flood on a local river.

Another pinned boat from Saturday's flood

We go the boat free and found a drybag with a phone inside. Phone was dead. No identification. We called the cops who told us to tow the boat downstream and meet them at the next bridge. They took the boat and the drybag - never heard what happened to the paddler.

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If we all added the Coast Guard sticker to our boats/kayaks/canoes etc. this situation would never have happened. Some CG groups provide the stickers for free. My sticker is at home in a drawer, and NOT on my boat (yet). Operation Paddle Smart.

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The five kayaks/canoes I use the most have those stickers. Thanks to String who had a bunch and gave them to me.