Drifting boats cause problems for Coast Guard

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When the Coast Guard gets a call about an empty boat drifting out in Seattle, Washington’s Puget Sound, they rush to the scene, not knowing if someone is missing in the water. On dozens of occasions, though, there is no emergency, and it's costing the agency a lot of time and money.

"Initially we don't know, so without knowing we treat everything as if it's a distress, somebody's in the water­," Petty Officer Phillip Heinlein, who has responded to calls of an empty boat spotted in the water, told King 5 News.

The Coast Guard spent more than 500 resource hours responding to 89 reports of an empty boat adrift in Puget Sound last year and in every instance there wasn't a single person missing or in distress. The boats simply weren't properly tied up or they washed out into the sound during a storm.