For every unmanned kayak reported, the Coast Guard must assume that a person is missing and in distress, and that requires a full-scale search and rescue effort involving Coast Guard personnel, vessels and aircraft.
The Coast Guard estimates a team on the water costs $113,000 per hour.
Most of these errant paddle craft have simply floated away on a rising tide, or blown off someone's dock. Kayak owners around New England are being asked by the U.S. Coast Guard to do their part in helping with unmanned kayak reports and preventing costly searches.
Message from the Coast Guard: Put a sticker on it.
When a kayak is found adrift with an If Found Contact sticker and the authorities can confirm with a quick phone call that no one is actually in danger, millions of search and rescue dollars and a lot effort will be saved.
To obtain an orange "If Found - Contact" sticker, contact your local Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla or Coast Guard Station. The stickers can also be ordered for only the price of postage from paddling.com.