Honolulu Star Bulletin 12/29/01)
By Ray Pendleton
With New Year's Eve just a couple of days away, this is a good time for Hawaii's recreational boating community to come up with a few good resolutions for 2002.
To help us get started, BoatU.S., one of our nation's largest boat owners associations, has suggested five resolutions that will have a positive effect on boating safety and the environment.
"I will encourage everyone aboard my boat to wear a life jacket," it suggests as one. "I will make sure there is a sturdy trash can - with a lid - on board," it gives for another.
"I will learn how much my fuel tanks hold and I won't top them off," it offers as a way to prevent spills.
"I will ask guests to use onshore restrooms before leaving shore," it gives as a way to prevent another type of pollution.
Finally, it suggests, "When I go fishing, I will keep only those fish I'm going to eat."
As general resolutions, they all sound fine. But it seems to me there could be others that would be more specific to Hawaii's boaters.
One that comes to mind: "I will not go offshore without a VHF marine radio aboard for emergencies, or better yet, without an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB)."
Just think of the savings in search hours and expense to the Coast Guard that resolution could bring. And especially if, "I will not go offshore with telling someone where I'm going and when I'll return," is added to it.
In Coast Guard parlance, this is called filing a float plan and it should be something every boater makes a habit of doing.
Another good resolution for this time of year might be, "I will be constantly vigilant for the presence of humpback whales when I go offshore."
Following such a vow would not only help a boat operator to obey federal laws regarding this endangered species, but it could also help prevent a disastrous collision.
And speaking of boaters obeying laws, perhaps making a resolution like, "I will sign up for a U.S. Power Squadron or Coast Guard Auxiliary safe boating course this year," would help to make 2002 a safer and more law-abiding year for boaters. After all, it's hard to obey laws that you don't know anything about.
Of course, in a place like Hawai`i, completely surrounded by water, the most important resolution any boater could make might be, "I will use and enjoy my boat more often in 2002."
Considering this state offers some of the best year-round sailing and fishing conditions in the world, to not do so would seem to be almost a sin.
And particularly when available mooring facilities are in such short supply that most marinas have years-long waiting lists for their slips. Boat owners who don't use their vessels are just taking up space a potentially more active boater might use.
With the state's recreational boating facilities in a near total state of collapse the problem is compounded. Could it be another reason why Hawai`i has fewer registered boats than in any other state?
Maybe a resolution or two is needed from our state boating administrators this year as well.
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