Fairhaven officials ask kayakers to mark kayaks

By Bianca Buono

bbuono@abc6.com

@BBuonoABC6

After an empty kayak found in the water in Fairhaven prompted an extensive two-day search, officials are asking people to mark their kayaks and other paddle craft.

Around 4:30 p.m. Monday, Fairhaven officials received a call after an empty kayak was spotted in the water with fishing tackle and water shoes inside. There was no kayaker in sight.

"We’re thinking, you know, the kayaker has been knocked out of the kayak and assumed missing,” explained Wayne Oliveira of the Fairhaven Fire Department.

The Fairhaven Fire Department quickly jumped into action alongside a number of other agencies, including the harbormaster and Coast Guard.

"It’s a big ocean out there. It’s a big area to search,” said Oliveira.

For more than four hours, search teams navigated the foggy, dark conditions hoping for any sign of the supposed missing person.

"We pretty much have to kind of narrow it down, tracing back the tides and the wind and the drift of the kayak,” Oliveira said.

After all of that, officials found out it was a false alarm. The kayak had been tied up at the shore but came loose. Its owner was never in harms way.

Oliveira says the large search effort could’ve easily been avoided.

"What we’re trying to advocate is that people register their kayaks."

Kayakers are encouraged to mark their kayaks with a decal found at the Coast Guard offices or your local fire department.

"We can contact the owner, see if anybody had permission to be using the boat or if we can’t find the owner then we can assume that we need to initiate a search,” said Oliveira.

Oliveira tells ABC6 if you aren’t able to pick up one of those decals, use a sharpie to write your contact information directly on your kayak. The same goes for paddle boards and small boats.

© WLNE-TV 2017