Take a two-way VHF marine radio along with you when going ocean kayaking — not your cell phone.

Coast Guard Lt. Mark Hiigel said that decision could save a life.

The chances of a kayaker being rescued quickly is diminished if a cell phone is the only method of tracking a distress call in the open seas, Hiigel said.

Hiigel and Lt. Marc Aparicio piloted the Coast Guard's Dauphin helicopter during a rescue demonstration at the Port Angeles Kayak Symposium on Saturday.

Aparicio said the Coast Guard gets about one call every week during the summer months from kayakers who are either overdue or have fallen out of their vessels.

He said a VHF marine radio is by far the best communication device to have onboard — it's made for communication with other ships or marine installations, and rescue pilots can zero in on the radio's signal, avoiding hours of search time.

A cellular phone call is very difficult to track. In addition, a cell phone usually isn't waterproof and won't work in certain areas.

A handheld, two-way VHF marine radio with at least 5 watts of transmission power costs from $100 to $200.

For the complete story see Monday's Peninsula News, on sale in Clallam and Jefferson counties.

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