I was trying to emphasize the cost of trying to rescue someone. Here are some numbers from a couple of years ago: small helicopter: $1,600USD/hr; Coast Guard Sea Stallion SAR: $4,400/hr; C-130: $4200/hr; Cutter: $1,550/hr. In 2009, US Coast Guard SAR average was $16,340/person. In 2009, 4 guys radioed their boat was sinking in the Gulf but only had a VHF radio and could only give a general location...It took three days and 230 hrs of SAR for mission cost of $1.6million.
The Coast Guard recommends carrying an EPIRB whenever you sail more than 15 miles from shore. Usually cuts the search time down to only a few hours if that.
The National Park Service, which has had massive funding cuts, is talking about imposing rescue insurance fees for hikers who try to climb certain peaks that have been proven to cost millions of dollars for rescues. British Columbia is also contemplating charging rescue fees for certain activities (part of permits). New Hampshire is now starting to impose rescue fees ranging from $120 to $50,000 depending on negligence.
Florida Coast Guard will only tow you in if they feel that not to do so will cause bodily harm.
I was in Florida last winter when a 40 ft sport boat was towed in by a commercial tow/salvage company. The boat's engine seized up but the boat was not in danger of sinking. The CG would NOT tow the boat in...the CG called a commercial tow boat to haul them in. The boat owner was very upset when presented with the bill. His argument was the same old one: "I pay taxes so I shouldn't have to pay to have my boat towed in!" The Highway Patrol will not tow your car back to a repair shop...you have to have AAA insurance or be willing to pay cash. When I talked to the CG they explained that they would always provide carry-back to sailboarders/kayakers/Hobies because the boats were so small.
When watching the Hobie Youtube video and the narrator mentioned that if they hadn't hooked the tower on the first pass, they would have been swept out into deeper water, with high waves, and nearly zero visibility. It brought to mind just how much it would cost the CG to spend the next 12 to 48 hours sweeping the area to try to find the boaters. Everyone always complains about wanting to have their "high" taxes cut but then turn around and expect "free" services because they do pay taxes.