Every year we hear of a search and rescue operation that’s initiated by the discovery of a kayak, rowboat or canoe found drifting with no boater in sight. Maybe someone is in the water, maybe they are stranded somewhere, or maybe the boat slipped off of the beach and went off on its own. With no way of knowing who the owner is, authorities have to assume the worst and begin searching. If the boater actually is in distress, there’s no information about who they’re looking for and who searchers might contact for important information. This is when a Vessel ID Sticker can come to the rescue!
A Vessel ID Sticker is a small, orange sticker that contains the owner’s name, primary, and secondary telephone numbers to help identify the owner of the boat should it be found floating with a somewhere.
Owners should place a Vessel ID sticker in a conspicuous location on the boat and fill out the contact information with a permanent, waterproof marker. A second phone number should reach a person who would likely know a lot about you and where you might be. The sticker could increase the likelihood of getting your gear back, it could save your life or, at worst, it could at help in your recovery.
You can get a vessel ID sticker by contacting your local USCG Auxiliary flotilla. These folks are very dedicated to the safety of recreational boaters and will provide the stickers free of charge. Other possible options include your Local United State Power Squadron (Operation Paddle Smart), a local paddle shop or your town’s harbormaster.