If you found a board with no rider floating down the lake or waterway, or perhaps walked up to a rider-less SUP on a beach, what would you think? What would you do?
First, you’d look around for the owner. Scan the water, assume the worst perhaps. Perhaps you’d call the local authorities, police, fire, coast guard, ocean rescue.
If there was a sticker with a phone number, you could take out your cell phone and call them. If it blew off a dock, was an abandoned rental, or simply floated away when the owner wasn’t looking, they could confirm it was theirs and that they were safe. If they didn’t answer, the authorities could at least investigate into where and when the paddler was last seen, if they were alone or with others. It can be a huge help in not only finding the paddler, but in the case of a board that just walked away without anyone in danger, it can save a ton of resources and time—time they could be spending helping others. According to Kayaking North America, “A typical Coast Guard search and rescue case can involve a helicopter and two or more station boats. Those assets together cost more than $24,000 of tax dollars per hour. That does not include the salary of the crews or the people behind the scenes.”
Consider getting these stickers from your local Coast Guard station or Coast Guard Auxillary and sticking them on your board. They’re free. All it takes is a sharpie. It could increase the likelihood of getting your gear back, it could save your life, or at worst, it could at least help in your recovery.