A Saco woman who capsized in her new kayak on her first time out and was rescued by a friend was “apologetic” Monday when she learned the Coast Guard had launched a major overnight search for her after the drifting, empty kayak she left behind was discovered near Fort Gorges in Casco Bay.

The kayaker capsized around dusk Sunday, and was towed to shore by a friend who was kayaking with her, but they abandoned the woman’s kayak in the bay and didn’t notify anyone, officials said.

“It did turn out great,” said Chris Berry, a civilian search and rescue coordinator with the Coast Guard.

The woman, whose identity was not being released, told officials that she thought the kayak had sunk, according to Ken Stuart, the Coast Guard command duty officer.

“She did get into trouble out there,” Stuart said. “She was apologetic” when she heard about the search.

The Coast Guard tracked the woman down through a cellphone that was left behind in the kayak, which had an associated number that led to one of the woman’s friends. She had given the cellphone to the kayaker and was able to identify her for the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard received a report at 8:45 p.m. Sunday from someone who found the 10-foot, orange Pelican Trailblazer kayak in the water, with a bag containing a watch and the phone. The kayak was not labeled with contact information and there were no correlating reports of a missing person, according to the Coast Guard. There was no paddle or life jacket with the kayak.

Berry said the Coast Guard received several calls from people reporting they had seen the two kayakers together and one call saying they had seen a kayaker towing in a person.

Altogether, the 16-hour search covered 64 square nautical miles. It involved a plane and helicopter from Air Station Cape Cod, a Coast Guard boat, and vessels from the Portland Fire Department, Maine Marine Patrol, Cape Elizabeth water extrication team and the Portland Harbor Master.

The woman does not face any charges, Stuart said. To avoid unnecessary searches, the Coast Guard says people in similar situations – who save themselves but leave some sort of watercraft adrift – should call 911 or any official agency to notify them of what happened.

Fort Gorges is a Civil War-era fortification that sits in Casco Bay between Portland’s East End and Peaks Island.

Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher contributed to this report.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.