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Those #!*^@ Kayaks

Old 01-03-2020, 05:56 AM
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Default Those #!*^@ Kayaks

Please pardon the cheesy effort to pen an attention getting thread title. I haven't touched base with the members here lately, so I thought I'd bring you up to speed on one of my initiatives. Paddle Sports Safety and Preparedness. Jan 1 marks the official launch of a 4 phase paddle sports safety initiative we are undertaking in the 8th District. That date happened to notch nicely with a SAR case we worked in Pensacola. This will be a longer post, so for those of you who want to get to the good stuff, here it is. Watch the video! I'll add on in a follow up post.

https://weartv.com/news/local/report...bandoned-kayak

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Old 01-03-2020, 05:58 AM
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I think WEAR TV did a fantastic job with their coverage. Through either their coverage or our social media awareness efforts, the owner was located.
Old 01-03-2020, 06:04 AM
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As taxpayers and Sportfish Restoration Fund contributors, I thought you might be interested in knowing how your money is being spent. I'll walk you through our 4 phase plan.

Phase 1. We are getting the "If Found" stickers into kayak shops along with the paddle tip reflector kits. Our volunteer Auxiliarists are taking point on this. During their visits to the shops they are going to mine the proprietors for information. We want to know what the local clubs are, what social media sites paddlers use, what the banner events are, where the major paddling destinations are and where the rental facilities are. We are going to create a relationship with the retailers to help us network.
Old 01-03-2020, 06:14 AM
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Phase 2: We begin networking. We are going to make guest appearances at club meetings. We are going to join social media sites. We are going to make appearances at big events.

I'll give an example of how this pays off. I am a member of the Bayou Coast Kayak Fishing Club. I got the "If Found" stickers into their captain's swag bags prior to their flagship tournament. Many captains got the stickers applied to their kayaks prior to launch. The weather turned sour and a few waterspouts passed through. One kayaker was separated from his kayak. Because he had applied the sticker, when the kayak was found there was no SAR response and he was reunited with his kayak.

We have also gotten our Navigation Rules For Paddlers article and other safety content hosted on club websites and Facebook groups. Social media also gives us a way to communicate with paddlers during SAR cases like the one linked above. As you well know, the online community can bring incredible value and a wealth of information into the equation. Social media plays a regular role in helping us solve SAR cases.

Old 01-03-2020, 06:17 AM
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Phase 3: We will be making direct contacts with paddlers at ramps and on the water. We will begin focusing some of our enforcement efforts on some of the hot spots our retailers tell us about. We will be conducting law enforcement checks on paddlers to make sure they have the required gear. During those law enforcement stops we will educate paddlers on their responsibilities under the navigation rules. We will discuss best safety practices with them as well. Some of the things we can discuss with them is how to stay out of conflict with power driven vessels in congested areas.
Old 01-03-2020, 06:21 AM
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Phase 4: We are going to visit rental facilities and present them with some best practices suggestions. We will identify any specific hazards or areas of conflict in their area of operation. We will encourage them to share the most vital safety information with their paddlers prior to rental. In areas where rental kayaks tend to create congestion in channels, we conduct periodic law enforcement patrols.
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Old 01-03-2020, 06:23 AM
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We have elements of our program working on a larger scale nationally with big box retailers to try to establish inroads to their customers.
Old 01-03-2020, 06:34 AM
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Imagine you are out on a body of water and come across a kayak/SUP/canoe with no one onboard.. maybe it is partially submerged, maybe there is some gear in the boat. Did somebody fall overboard? or Did it get blown off a dock or swept from the bank? These stickers are great!

Locally the Lake Wylie Marine Commission has done a good job promoting these (we had them speak at our Rotary club). Our CG Aux. is also spreading the word and distributing them.
Old 01-03-2020, 06:46 AM
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USCG, I commend you for all your educational efforts. And I hope people here see this as such.
Keep it flowing!
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Old 01-03-2020, 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by DenmarkSC View Post
Imagine you are out on a body of water and come across a kayak/SUP/canoe with no one onboard.. maybe it is partially submerged, maybe there is some gear in the boat. Did somebody fall overboard? or Did it get blown off a dock or swept from the bank? These stickers are great!

Locally the Lake Wylie Marine Commission has done a good job promoting these (we had them speak at our Rotary club). Our CG Aux. is also spreading the word and distributing them.
That is very encouraging to hear. Thanks for letting me know.
Old 01-03-2020, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by combi_40 View Post
USCG, I commend you for all your educational efforts. And I hope people here see this as such.
Keep it flowing!
It's something all boaters can do to help. I think most of us know paddlers. Let them know about the importance of some form of identifying markings. If you ever walk into a paddle sports shop that doesn't have these, please let me know.
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Old 01-03-2020, 07:11 AM
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You do good work. I will put tags on my fleet of kayaks and row & sail boat.
Yesterday I ordered a RADAR wedge to hopefully see the little speed bumps better on the screen..
Old 01-03-2020, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Milehog View Post
You do good work. I will put tags on my fleet of kayaks and row & sail boat.
Yesterday I ordered a RADAR wedge to hopefully see the little speed bumps better on the screen..
I am interested in knowing if your local paddle sports shop has any. If not, let me know and I will get them some.
Old 01-03-2020, 07:50 AM
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This is a great initiative. I've run across a kayak on 2 occasions sans paddler. Fortunately in both cases found their rightful home quickly and confirmed nobody was missing. These stickers would have made that process much faster.
Old 01-03-2020, 08:14 AM
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I'll be brief, but I have a lot of experience in an area which I think is relevant to this discussion. I live in Fort Lauderdale and boat anywhere between Boca Raton to Miami. On any given weekend, the entire reef line from 15' depths out to 60-70' of water is littered with kayak fisherman and shore divers, literally hundreds. Most of these guys have no markings at all, or at best some little tiny dive flag on their kayak or an in the case of the shore divers mounted on an inner tube with the flag no more than about 18" above the surface of the water. In any sort of a chop it can be difficult to see a kayak or a small dive flag until you are right up on them. I believe some sort of high visibility flag mounted up about 8' above the water should be mandatory on kayaks, and the shore divers should have to comply with the current size restrictions on dive flags, with a certain mandatory height off the water for the flag, 6-8' minimum. Having this visibility should be common sense, but I also recognize that a lot of these guys are doing what they are doing because they don't have a lot of money and it is my experience that they cut corners on proper safety equipment because they would rather spend their money on cool gear instead. Many have never owned a power boat and just don't understand how difficult they are to see to the average power boater. I can't believe more of these guys don't get run over. In my opinion, it is a serious problem and deserves serious education/enforcement efforts. I can't tell you how many vessel operators I come across who where badly shaken by a near miss on one of these guys.
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Old 01-03-2020, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by modernimage View Post
I'll be brief, but I have a lot of experience in an area which I think is relevant to this discussion. I live in Fort Lauderdale and boat anywhere between Boca Raton to Miami. On any given weekend, the entire reef line from 15' depths out to 60-70' of water is littered with kayak fisherman and shore divers, literally hundreds. Most of these guys have no markings at all, or at best some little tiny dive flag on their kayak or an in the case of the shore divers mounted on an inner tube with the flag no more than about 18" above the surface of the water. In any sort of a chop it can be difficult to see a kayak or a small dive flag until you are right up on them. I believe some sort of high visibility flag mounted up about 8' above the water should be mandatory on kayaks, and the shore divers should have to comply with the current size restrictions on dive flags, with a certain mandatory height off the water for the flag, 6-8' minimum. Having this visibility should be common sense, but I also recognize that a lot of these guys are doing what they are doing because they don't have a lot of money and it is my experience that they cut corners on proper safety equipment because they would rather spend their money on cool gear instead. Many have never owned a power boat and just don't understand how difficult they are to see to the average power boater. I can't believe more of these guys don't get run over. In my opinion, it is a serious problem and deserves serious education/enforcement efforts. I can't tell you how many vessel operators I come across who where badly shaken by a near miss on one of these guys.
You bring up several topics worthy of discussion. The area you describe that sees hundreds of kayakers is the kind of area I want to focus our on water efforts. That would be a great place to conduct law enforcement patrols and educate paddlers.

Let's have a talk about "hard to see." I am going to politely disagree with you on that. I have thousands of hours underway on a wide variety of vessels. Kayaks are not hard to see if vessel operators are keeping a lookout and operating in compliance with the navigation rules. Sure they can drop in between the swells and disappear for a second, but they also pop up regularly. The Inland and near shore waters on the north central Gulf Coast is literally a mine field of crab pot floats. I have hit literally zero in my many decades of operating. That is in all sea states, sun angles, etc. It simply requires undivided attention.

That brings us to a flag. A 2 square foot flag may catch the attention of a marginally engaged operator when a 20+ square foot kayak doesn't, but I wouldn't count on it. Wind blowing toward or away from the motor vessel operator will present very little surface area of the flag.

Here's a point or two to ponder. Each time I have heard people recommend or advocate for a flag, they have recommended high vis. Why then are day shapes black? If a 16 foot long kayak would be required to have a flag, what about a 14 foot long microskiff? You don't have to answer those questions, just something to kick around in your mind.

Going back to the area with hundreds of kayakers. I want to encourage all boaters who have concerns about areas like that to engage their local Coast Guard units. It'd be a great place for us to focus our enforcement/educational efforts.

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Old 01-03-2020, 08:41 AM
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Thank you for your work to improve safety and save lives. I can add a couple of things to think about.

1. The kayak rental and tour companies could assist more. In my area it seems like they may be part of the problem, especially as it relates to local knowledge and situational awareness. As an example tour groups always seem to go down river on my side of the river where the docks create a sometimes very treacherous situation with swirling current and eddies that can suck you right under the dock. During the time that I have been at my location we have pulled two people out from under the dock after being sucked in and under. Thank goodness we were there to help. In both cases the tour "guide" created that risk to his-her customers.

2. Local awareness warnings at common launch points? Along the theme of item #1 many of the accidents that I've been aware of have been caused by a lack of situational awareness (dangerous navigational situations that small crafts like kayaks and jet skis are particularly vulnerable to):
- Currents and eddies around structure
- Blind spots (wave troughs, corners, abutments)
- Sucking - throwing wave action near structure
- Pinch point currents that overwhelm the operator

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Old 01-03-2020, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
You bring up several topics worthy of discussion. The area you describe that sees hundreds of kayakers is the kind of area I want to focus our on water efforts. That would be a great place to conduct law enforcement patrols and educate paddlers.

Let's have a talk about "hard to see." I am going to politely disagree with you on that. I have thousands of hours underway on a wide variety of vessels. Kayaks are not hard to see if vessel operators are keeping a lookout and operating in compliance with the navigation rules. Sure they can drop in between the swells and disappear for a second, but they also pop up regularly. The Inland in near shore waters on the north central Gulf Coast is literally a mine field of crab pot floats. I have hit literally zero in my many decades of operating. That is in all sea states, sun angles, etc. It simply requires undivided attention.

That brings us to a flag. A 2 square foot flag may catch the attention of a marginally engaged operator when a 20+ square foot kayak doesn't, but I wouldn't count on it. Wind blowing toward or away from the motor vessel operator will present very little surface area of the flag.

Here's a point or two to ponder. Each time I have heard people recommend or advocate for a flag, they have recommended high vis. Why then are day shapes black? If a 16 foot long kayak would be required to have a flag, what about a 14 foot long microskiff? You don't have to answer those questions, just something to kick around in your mind..
I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on the visibility issue. :-)
Out of Boca Raton, some of the kayakers are using the small triangle bike flags up about 6 ft or so. Now these are not very big but I can say that they DO help me to pick them up quicker especially in a chop. And what would be the downside to requiring a flag? It is doubtful to be cost prohibitive. And it could save their life.
To the poster about dive flags. Whenever we are running and see a commercial dive boat, besides giving it a lot of distance I ask EVERYONE on board to be on the lookout for dive flags. It is nopt uncommon for them to be a LONG ways from the boat and yes they are short and not that big either. Again, what is your life worth?

EDIT: I meant to say thanks for all your effort. You and your group are doing a great service.
Old 01-03-2020, 08:58 AM
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I would gladly put a decal like this on my kayaks.

You mentioned that this initiative is in the 8th District. Are any other districts participating?

If not, is there a way to request stickers via mail? Preventing a single search and rescue could probably pay for a lot of envelopes and stamps.

Old 01-03-2020, 09:02 AM
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The divers with the small flags are meeting the requirements of FL law, if the minimum size of the flag requirement was reduced they would fly a smaller flag. They don't realize it isn't about minimum size required by law (look at some of those styrofoam ball floats with the legal flag), it's about being seen. I used to shore dive with my lime green kayak and had a large flag with stiffeners and a 6 ft pole, boats, anyone paying attention could see it. I can't count the number of times I've watched the propellers of boats going overhead. One of the unfortunate things about S FL diving is the reef lines, this is where the divers are, they also have a color difference, between the reef and the sand. Many boaters navigate a north south course using this color difference.

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