Paddles Up Great Lakes!


Today’s post is from Mr. Frank Jennings, the Ninth District’s Recreational Boating Safety Specialist.
Get ready for “Paddles Up Great Lakes,” an educational outreach campaign aimed at raising safe boating awareness among the region’s paddlesports community. The Ninth Coast Guard District campaign, going on now, runs through Sept. 10.

Paddlesports is the fastest growing segment of recreational boating. Current economic conditions coupled with the modest entry-level cost of paddlecraft have contributed to a surge in the popularity of this sport. Some paddlecraft can be purchased new for as little as $200.

According to the National Marine Manufacturing Association (NMMA), 2009 sales of canoes and kayaks totaled 343,600, nearly the number sold the previous year. With the growth of this user group, the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary are engaging paddlers and paddling groups in the interest of on-water safety. In 2009, Coast Guard Boating Safety Statistics indicate 255 paddlers either died or were injured while paddling on our Nation’s waters. Of those, 120 drowned.

Paddlers are boaters. But, there’s generally no mandatory boater education requirement unless required by state law when renting from an outfitter or livery. Many new paddlers are potentially taking to the water with little or no awareness of required safety equipment or safe paddling practices. The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary’s goal is to raise that awareness.

During Paddles Up Great Lakes, Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel, along with participating federal, state and local partners will be passing out safety and education information, as well as self-adhesive ID stickers to canoe and kayak owners. The self-adhesive ID stickers aid marine patrol and rescue personnel in quickly locating owners of paddlecraft found empty and adrift on the water, potentially shortening the duration of search efforts.

If not available locally, paddlecraft ID stickers can also be obtained from the Coast Guard’s Ninth District Auxiliary and Boating Safety Branch, by e-mailing a request to:

The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary want paddlers to safely enjoy their time on the water, not only this Labor Day weekend, but throughout the year.

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