ORLEANS, Mass. – Twenty-two million Americans enjoy paddling on the water. About 100,000 canoes and 350,000 kayaks are sold annually, according to industry figures. Also, sales of stand up paddle boards have soared as millions have tried that sport in recent years and made it increasingly popular. There is, however, a dark side. Nationally, canoeists, kayakers, and stand up paddle boarders now account for nearly 30% of all recreational boating fatalities. In New England, that percentage is 60%, double the national figure, according to the US Coast Guard. In 2016 and 2017, a total of 53 persons died in paddlecraft-related accidents in the Northeast.
The Coast Guard encourages paddlers to always wear personal flotation devices while on the water. Stand up paddle boarders also should consider using a leash. All paddlers are legally required to have a sound producing device and a visual distress signal (typically a whistle and a mirror), best attached to life jackets, for use in emergencies.
Paddle craft instruction and safety classes are available from a number of organizations, private groups, and retail stores on Cape Cod. Nauset Flotilla, Orleans, a unit of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, is holding a three-hour course, “A Paddler’s Guide to Safety,” on Saturday, June 2, at the Orleans Fire Rescue Department. Paddlers of all ages, novice and experienced, are invited to attend. To register for the course, contact Dennis Bunnell at 508-560-3668 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is also possible using the District Coast Guard Auxiliary web site, a013.uscgaux.info. Click on “Classes” at the top of the page, type in your ZIP code, then Submit. The “Classes” page also lists all recreational boating safety classes that Cape Cod Auxiliary units are offering throughout Summer 2018.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the U.S. Coast Guard and supports the Coast Guard in nearly all its service missions. The Auxiliary was created by Congress in 1939. For more information, please visit www.cgaux.org.
Coast Guard Auxiliary news release