HM Coastguard dealt with 578 incidents involving canoes and kayaks in 2012. Sadly, there were nine fatalities.
The type of call outs ranged from falling in to the water, fighting with strong winds and rip tides, to a lack of survival equipment. But another key issue is canoes or kayaks that have been found drifting at sea or abandoned on shore. Coastguards often spend valuable time tracking down the owners to check if they're safely ashore or actually in trouble at sea. This occasionally involves a large-scale search and rescue mission, involving coastguard rescue teams, lifeboats and even search and rescue helicopters.
HM Coastguard has now produced a free ID sticker which owners can use to write their contact details on and stick on their canoe or kayak.
Anne Young, HM Coastguard's National Liaison Officer for canoes and kayaks, says:
"We recommend that you clearly mark your canoe or kayak with your name and contact details so that if it is lost, stolen or abandoned we can contact you to make sure that you are safe. This will save a lot of time, and could give us extra information we need to help you if we believe you're in difficulty at sea.
"The new stickers are very easy to use. Just write your contact details onto the paper side, stick the laminate over the top and stick onto your canoe or kayak.
"For canoeists and kayakers, our other safety advice is to wear a buoyancy aid and make sure you carry a VHF radio, so you can contact the Coastguard on channel 16 if you get into difficulty. A Personal Locator Beacon ( PLB) is also a good idea for more remote locations, so an accurate position of where you are can be sent direct to the Coastguard. And remember to tell a shore contact where you are going and when you expect to return so that they can contact us if you do not come home as expected."