Coast Guard To The Rescue
By Thomas Morrone CFP®, CPA
The title may be somewhat misleading but hopefully it grabbed your attention to read this because it is still interesting, and the Coast Guard was involved. I have written before about my kayaking adventures around the Branford shoreline. I try to get out on the water as often as possible but do not actually do so as much as I would like. Recently, Cathy and I had planned a day on the water with her sister Joan and her husband Rick. Joan and Rick live on a lake and they are frequent kayakers. Also, Rick has a group of fellow kayakers that travel around the state to explore various bodies of water, so he is always up for a little “road trip” with his kayaks. Any reason for the four of us to get together works for me, especially if it includes kayaking. On our scheduled day, they brought their two kayaks to our house on the roof of their vehicle for our little excursion.
It was a beautiful day and armed with life vests, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and bottles of water we launched our kayaks in the Branford River. We went out the river and headed east towards the Thimble Islands. We went by Clam Island and decided to double back to the river because the wind was picking up and the waves were starting to get a little larger. As we made our way back down the river, the girls decided to pack it in and headed for shore, but Rick and I continued. We went through some of the salt marsh areas and it was very calm and tranquil. We decided to look at some of the beautiful boats that were docked at the Branford Yacht Club. As we went past the last group of boats, a Coast Guard vessel, complete with lights flashing, was coming towards us. One of the crew was waving at us to approach. Rick and I thought we did something wrong but had no clue what it was.
As we approached, the crew member commented that nothing was wrong, and they were doing safety checks. He gave us the thumbs up sign acknowledging that we were wearing life vests. He told us that the number one reason for drowning is from kayakers and canoers not wearing life vests. I thought that would be it and we would be on our way. Nope. They went through a full “boarding report” checklist with each of us including name, address, phone, DOB, vessel description with make and model. We were asked if we had whistles. God bless Rick as he had a whistle but for me, other than puckering my lips and giving a blow I did not have a whistle. At that point I was issued a whistle by the crewmember from the Coast Guard. He was kind enough to give me a second whistle to give to Cathy. We were asked if we had weapons or were we transporting drugs. We were asked if we knew the serial numbers of our kayaks. I knew there was a sticker with a number, but I did not have it memorized, would you? We were also asked if we had stickers on our kayaks that said “If found, contact” with blank lines for name and phone numbers. We did not have them, so we were issued the stickers. The Coast Guard crew was very friendly and courteous and when they were complete with their report we each received a copy for our reference. We thanked them for making us feel a little safer and after about 30 minutes we were off.
When we got to shore, our wives could not believe our story. We had our reports, whistles and stickers to validate the event. I filled out and attached the contact information stickers and wrote the serial numbers in black marker on the kayaks in plain sight. Our whistles are attached to our life vests.
We are now in compliance with Coast Guard regulations for our kayaks.
Until the Next Tom’s Take…