We were dispatched along with Oak Island Fire Department, Oak Island Police Department, and Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office for a report of a raft about 1 mile south of the Oak Island Pier. It was unknown if anyone was on the raft and was barely visible from shore. We responded with 2 trucks, our surf-launch boat, and the drone. We launched the drone to investigate the float and while approaching the raft a Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol boat located it and confirmed that nobody was on it. They retrieved the inflatable unicorn from the ocean. Fortunately, nobody was in danger on the raft and all units were returned to service.
We respond to all such calls, and encourage everyone to report these. In most cases, it is nothing more than the wind blowing a float off the beach and out to sea, and is most common on days like today when we have a strong wind out of north. It much better to err on the side of caution than to assume nobody is on the raft.
This call serves as a reminder of how dangerous inflatable rafts can be in the ocean. These floats, which are sold by several area merchants, are designed for use in swimming pools only. They are not intended for use in the ocean and can be very dangerous when brought to the beach. While we discourage them being used at all in the ocean, if they are they should be tethered to the shore using a rope and every person on the raft should be wearing a PFD (life jacket).