Since Sunday, the Coast Guard and local search crews have responded to three incidents on the water after trips on Long Island Sound didn’t go as planned and officials are urging people to take steps to protect themselves.
Todd Roeder, of Stratford, went kayaking on Tuesday afternoon with his wife at the beach in Milford.
“It was a little windy,” he said. “The breeze was kind of pushing us out a bit, but it was manageable.”
He rented the kayaks from Scoot and Paddle http://scootandpaddle.com/. The owner, Christina Pritchard, advised him not to go too far off the coast.
“When we have a strong offshore breeze we don’t rent at all. It’s very dangerous. You can get blown away, as we’ve seen,” she said.
Two men died after launching from Hammonasset State Park on Sunday evening in a kayak and paddle board. One body washed up on the Long Island shore.
The Coast Guard searched Sunday and Monday for a missing man after his inflatable raft tipped over off the Bridgeport coast and he has not yet been found.
On Tuesday morning, a Coast Guard auxiliarist in his private boat spotted a man, without a life jacket, who was stranded overnight on the Sound in a flimsy raft. His friend somehow swam and then walked back to shore from Charles Island during low tide.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing a lifejacket,” Coast Guard Lt. Richard Matthews said. “Think of it like the seatbelt when you go out in the ocean.”
Always make sure to check the forecast and especially be aware of strong wind gusts before going out into the water, Lt. Matthews added.
“You really need to know the limitations of your equipment and yourself as a mariner,” he said, “so you not only check the type of vessel that you have but in accordance where you’re going to be operating and the weather conditions.”
First responders are reminding everyone to give a float plan to someone on shore, making sure that person has the details of the boating trip.
Also, be sure to take a cell phone, air horn or whistle, just in case something goes wrong.