Coast Guard calls off search for possible missing kayaker

A kayak found adrift between Vashon and Blake islands early Saturday morning prompted a day-long search and rescue operation for a possibly missing kayaker. The Coast Guard called off the search on Saturday evening.

The orange kayak, with a lifejacket, paddle, beer bottle and bear mace on board, was reported adrift by a Washington State Ferry official at 6:50 a.m. on Saturday.

Petty Officer Colin White said that although the Coast Guard didn’t know if it was dealing with a missing kayaker or simply a derelict boat, a search and rescue operation was launched

“If a kayak is found adrift in the water, the Coast Guard will take it seriously and as a precaution launch a search with the idea that there might be a person in the water,” he said.

The Coast Guard’s Seattle station sent a rescue crew on 41-foot boat, which searched a 33-square-mile area of water off the north end of Vashon Island for more than 11 hours. In addition, a helicopter from the Port Angles station searched the waters for about two hours that morning.

The search uncovered no signs of a kayaker, and was called off at 7:45 p.m.

The kayak did not have a Paddle Smart identification sticker, something White said could have made the operation go more smoothly.

On the sticker, owners of small boats can list names and phone numbers to be contacted in the case that their boat is found.

White said the sticker helps responders determine if a derelict boat simply went adrift or was in use. In this case, he said, ferry officials could have contacted numbers listed on the sticker and possibly avoided the search and rescue operation all together.

“We’re also talking about resource hours and taxpayer dollars as well,” he said.

Anyone with information on the kayak and its ownership should call the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound at 217-6001. Paddle Smart identification stickers are available at most Seattle area kayak retailers and local Coast Guard auxiliary flotillas.

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