Paddle Smart: A call to action

Despite the cold winds and snow that has been sweeping through many parts of the country, many outdoor enthusiasts are out enjoying our nation’s beauty. One of these enthusiasts is Justin Chase. Chase knows it takes a community of educated, prepared boaters to stay safe and have fun while out on the water.

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Written by Justin Chase of Outdoors, By Cracky!

Despite the cold winds and snow that has been sweeping through many parts of the country, many outdoor enthusiasts are out enjoying our nation’s beauty. One of these enthusiasts is Justin Chase. Chase knows it takes a community of educated, prepared boaters to stay safe and have fun while out on the water. Below is Chase’s call to action for all paddlers to get involved in the Paddle Smart program.

This Paddle Smart sticker can assist rescuers in finding those who are in distress and save rescuers countless resource hours.
This Paddle Smart sticker can assist rescuers in finding those who are in distress and save rescuers countless resource hours.

After a recent conversation with Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Christian Wilson, I noticed disconnect among paddlers, their suppliers and the ones who stand ready to provide emergency services. Opportunity exists for a chance of monumental collaboration—one that will assuredly save lives and precious emergency resources.

The U.S. Coast Guard Paddle Smart program, which provides bright orange stickers to display owner contact information on boats, is the answer to this disconnect. From personal watercraft retailers to paddlers themselves, everyone needs to collaborate in putting these Paddle Smart stickers to use.

Once a boat-owner affixes a Paddle Smart sticker to his personal watercraft, crucial information is prevalent in the event a boat is found adrift.

Justin Chase paddles along the Merrimack River. Photo courtesy of Justin Chase.
Justin Chase paddles along the Merrimack River. Photo courtesy of Justin Chase.

“One of the hardest SAR [search and rescue] cases is a lone boat adrift with no one around.” said Wilson in a recent interview. “We will spend hours and hours conducting search pattern after search pattern all in the hopes of finding anything…we see that tag, make a phone call, and save a whole lot of headache.”

The information displayed on a Paddle Smart sticker helps the Coast Guard determine if the boat was accidentally set adrift, or if indeed there is a distressed paddler in need of rescue. Additionally, a paddler often leaves word at home of their intended route or launching and landing times—all of which is invaluable information for a recovery team.

Retailers, manufacturers, paddlers, family and friends: Use this sticker! Those selling the watercraft should supply this sticker with EVERY personal watercraft sold or delivered, thus showing support for the United States Coast Guard and caring for your customers’ well-being long after a sale is made. And those who know paddlers should provide them with the knowledge of the Paddle Smart program, sharing the importance of staying safe on the water.

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