Safe boating class may be the solution

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin 9/08/01)
By Ray Pendleton

In its last legislative session, the state's lawmakers, in an effort to encourage safer boating in Hawai`i, attempted to pass Senate Bill 216.

The bill would have required all boats operating more than a mile offshore to have a marine VHF radio and/or an emergency position-indicating radio beacon.

The object of such a requirement, of course, would have been to make sure that when a boater got into trouble, he or she would have the ability to alert rescuers, such as the Coast Guard, in a timely and accurate manner.

Although the bill failed to pass into law, my guess is it will come up again in 2002, and yet, I can't help wondering if it's the best way to attack the problem.

To begin with, creating a law is just the first part of the equation. Next, it is necessary to educate the public about the law and then finally, to enforce it.

The Department of Boating and Ocean Recreation, who would likely be tasked with both education and enforcement, seemly has neither sufficient personnel or operating capital to adequately carry them out.

Why not instead pass a bill that would require all boat operators in Hawai`i to take a safe boating class?

Such classes are available throughout the year from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Power Squadron, free of charge.

At these classes boaters receive the education necessary to fully comprehend why they must equip their vessels with all of the proper safety features when venturing offshore in Hawaii's unique marine environment.

And that knowledge is likely to promote more safety consciousness than any law could demand. And it would be self enforcing.

Just this past week, the Honolulu Power Squadron announced it is accepting applications for enrollment in its fall safe boating course.

The classes will be given on seven consecutive Mondays, from 7 to 9 p.m., beginning on Sept. 10, at the Waikiki Yacht Club. The club is located in the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Park and has plenety of free, on-street parking.

Virtually every aspect of safe boating will be covered through lectures and a self-study lesson plan. Some of the topics will be:

> Basic boating terminology.
> Boat handling - focusing on power and sail, as well as personal water craft (jet skis).
> Basic navigation, compass reading and anchoring skills.
> Aids to navigation, including buoys and range markers.
> Marine radiotelephone procedures.
> Marine weather and charts.
> Marine emergency procedures.
> Basic knot tying.
> State and federal maritime laws and regulations.

As always, the course is free, but there is a nominal charge for study materials.

So far, the course is not required by law, but it's still a great education and boater owners may find they can get a discount on their boat insurance as well.

Because this course always fills up fast, I would recommend calling the Power Squadron at (808) 846-9000 to enroll as soon as possible.

Last week's Column ~|~ Water Ways Archives

HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News