HONOLULU —The owner of the orange dive flag and buoy found Wednesday has been located safe ashore in Molokai.
The diver was never in distress and stated that he and his son had lost the buoy while diving near Lahaina, Sunday.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received notification from the tug American Contender, who reported an orange dive flag and buoy with a taut line approximately five miles offshore.
The American Contender monitored the area and no one appeared to be in distress.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point was launched to the scene to search for anyone in distress.
The MH-65 helicopter crew recovered the dive buoy and discovered it was marked with a few stickers and the initials ‘Lt’ handwritten with a white paint pen. A bag of seashells was also attached to the dive buoy.
The Coast Guard advises the public to label all watercraft and equipment with contact information in order to quickly account for owners and prevent any unnecessary searches.
Through the Operation Paddle Smart program, the Coast Guard offers a free “If Found” decal to be placed in a visible location on watercraft. The information on the sticker can allow response entities to quickly identify the vessel’s owner and aid in search and rescue planners in determining the best course of action.
The stickers can be obtained for free at local harbormasters, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, from Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron offices and at select marine retail and supply stores.
“We are always happy when a case like this ends with identifying the owner and determining that no one was actually in jeopardy,” said Lt. Jessica Mickelson, a search and rescue controller for Sector Honolulu. “In most situations will will conduct a search when we are notified of a possible distress situation and we don’t have enough amplifying information to rule out the possibility that someone could be in trouble. The concern here is that vital resources and taxpayers dollars are being expended unnecessarily when a watercraft is not labeled. We can’t stress the importance enough of mariners labeling their watercraft, whether it’s a paddleboard, surfboard, dive buoy, kayak, etc. If you use it on the water, label it and if you lose something, make sure you notify the Coast Guard so that we can correlate it if someone finds it and reports it.”