You're Safe! - Let LEO Know!

Don’t be this kayaker. LEO spent looking a day and a half for him after report of unmanned, capsized kayak in the water:

Also, put name and contact info on your kayak. I not only have my number but also my wife’s. If I am truly missing, highly unlikely I would be answering a call to my mobile.




So what do we think?

  • The guy capsizes, losing all of his fishing gear and paddle.
  • He doesn’t know how to reenter, or the kayak is blown away from him as well.
  • He swims to shore and has no way to retrieve his boat, so he leaves it.
  • It never dawns on him that leaving a capsized kayak in the reservoir might create a stir - or he’s just too embarrassed - so he doesn’t bother to tell anyone.

Maybe he lost his phone too, which would at least be half an excuse.

years ago, 2 of us were coming into a ‘bouncy’ inlet. He went over, bailed. I was able to get him to shore, went back out to look for kayak - gone.
After getting back to car (phone) notified authorities of possible kayak in ocean.
Just common sense, but, as I’ve been hearing a lot: common sense isn’t so common anymore.

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I don’t think it occurs to people that LE finding an empty kayak is a big problem. I got a call from the Coast Guard when I worked at Sweetwater about an empty kayak - it was somewhat close to where we did our rentals and had one of the shop’s stickers on it so they thought it might be one of ours. It wasn’t one of our rentals but other than that I didn’t have much info for them. It had no gear on it at all so likely a high tide escapee from someone’s beach but they will make sure that is the case before closing the case.

Reminds me I need to rewrite the names/numbers on the ID stickers on my kayaks. The sharpie fades out after a year or so.


Instead of the Coast Guard sticker, I made some ID tags, sort of like luggage tags. I can attach a couple to different locations on my kayak. I use these to avoid the issue of the sticker fading plus I’d just as soon not attach a sticker to my deck. I think I was able to make eight of them using one 8 1/2 x 11 laminator sheet.


So in a similar situation with an inlet, we lost a surf kayak a number of years back. Five of us were surfing Braveboat Harbor, a fairly inaccessible estuary because the land at the mouth of inlet were of private ocean front land/houses. The land inside the estuary is conservation land comprising of marshes and woods with no parking near the water. We parked on a remote dirt road and hiked in about .5 miles with our surf specific kayaks (sub 9’ boats) through woods to the marsh and then paddle out to the mouth of the inlet. When we got to the mouth of the inlet, we had head plus swells peeling beautifully long the sandbar next to the north point, while a deeper channel next to the south point, provided an easy access back out the mouth of the inlet to catch the next wave.

It was all fun on great waves that ran along the northern point, until the wave faded out in the deeper waters inside the estuary. Then we have an easy padde back out through the non breaking swells in the deep channel. Fun until, one person in the group blew his roll and then came of his surf kayak. He was within the edge of the sandbar where waves were breaking. I got to him first and try to tow him out as he hung onto his surf kayak. Unfortunately, at the point in the session, the tide had turn to ebb and the current was pulling him, his boat and me further out to sea. Another surf kayaker got to me to help. Since were in low volume surf kayaks, there really was minimal chance to do an assisted re-entry without the kayak immediately filling back up by a breaking wave. So, after losing ground to the current that was taking us out to sea, I yelled at him to let go off his boat so I can tow him back in. Reluctantly, he did that. I and the other rescuer took turns towing him back into the estuary against the outgoing tide. We were pretty exhausted from doing that.

His surf kayak was gone, but frankly I was just glad and relieved that we didn’t lose the kayaker! That was the end of the surf session. We got back out through the woods. We didn’t think to call LEO or coast guard. His surf kayak did have his name and phone number. He never got a call about it tho’. I checked with him weeks and months afterwards. As far as we know, the surf kayak went out to sea and probably caught a current to New Foundland or the British Isles. There was enough floatation with the airbags to do that.

So, we didn’t have “common sense” then but did develop a better understanding afterwards, debriefing the incident.



Buy custom dog tags on ebay and fasten to boat. The stickers get easily wiped off by sand, dirt, and sun.