Effort underway in Barrington to reunite lost boats with owners

December storm’s high tide set kayaks adrift

By Josh Bickford
Posted 2/7/23

The harbormaster’s office has been receiving phone calls that all sound a bit similar.

There is the one about a missing kayak that washed away during the high tide on Dec. 23. There’s …

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Effort underway in Barrington to reunite lost boats with owners

December storm’s high tide set kayaks adrift

Posted

The harbormaster’s office has been receiving phone calls that all sound a bit similar.

There is the one about a missing kayak that washed away during the high tide on Dec. 23. There’s also the call for a found kayak that washed up a day or so after the high tide on Dec. 23. And there’s one for docks that dislodged and are floating aimlessly across the water.

Barrington Harbormaster Brian Hunt said his office has received more than a few phone calls from residents dealing with the aftermath of the powerful storm that rolled across Barrington two days before Christmas. The storm packed strong winds, heavy rain, and an alarmingly high tide.

At its peak, the Dec. 23 high tide washed over sections of coastal roads. It covered the White Church parking lot. It flooded the western end of Riverview Drive. 

“A lady on Samoset called me and said someone’s dock was right up against her’s,” Hunt said. “I’ve had people call and say they lost kayaks. I’ve had people call and say they found a kayak.”

Hunt said the Harbormaster’s office is hoping to reunite people with their temporarily misplaced kayaks and boats. He is asking that people send an email to bhunt@barrington.ri.gov or stop by the Barrington Police Department and share information about the lost item: what type of vessel it is, the color, and where it was last spotted. 

“We’re going to put the boats out there and see if we can gather this stuff up,” Hunt said. 

The Barrington Harbormaster experienced the effects of the Dec. 23 storm firsthand. Hunt said the high tide washed over his seawall and when it retreated, it took with it some flotation blocks. 

“I had flotation blocks that were on the seawall that floated away,” he said. 

Hunt said the challenge of reuniting lost kayaks with their owners is often made more difficult because people are less likely to put their names on their kayaks. Hunt said the Coast Guard is going to soon require all boats and kayaks be tagged with the owner’s name and address. That way, if a vessel turns up adrift without its owner, officials can do a quick check and see if they need to conduct a search for a missing boater, or if the kayak just washed away during a high tide. 

Hunt said the Harbormaster’s office is also planning a large-scale coastal cleanup for this spring. He said the marshes and coastlines are littered with all sorts of debris that washed up during the Dec. 23 storm. 

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.