Coast Guard kicks off Operation Paddle Smart

By Petty Officer Melissa Leake

It might be the smallest of detail, but it can also mean the difference between separating a successful search-and-rescue case from a missing person report or worse, says a Coast Guard Pacific Area news release announcing Operation Paddle Smart.

The campaign, aimed at small-craft owners, begins simply with a free sticker. The weatherproof sticker, which owners apply to their small craft, is intended to help the Coast Guard return property, reduce the number of resources spent on unnecessary search-and-rescue cases, and foster voluntary small-craft owner assistance, the release noted.

“This is a win-win program for the boating public and the Coast Guard no matter where you are geographically,” said Coast Guard Capt. Charley Diaz, Pacific Area chief of staff.

Diaz said putting two correct phone numbers on the reflective sticker is the most important thing to remember when filling out the owner information.

“If someone’s out on the water and their kayak has turned over, their cell phone is now at the bottom of the ocean. We want the alternate number to call and verify if there’s an emergency, or to return the property to its owner,” he said. “It’s all about having the right information.”

Jeff Seifried said the team is working to educate the public about the free stickers and their importance. The stickers and further information will be available by the 2010 boating season.

To obtain a sticker, contact the Coast Guard office at 2710 Harbor Drive, San Diego, or call (510) 437-3375.