Honolulu Star Bulletin 01/12/02)
By Ray Pendleton
After writing about recreational boating for magazines and newspapers for nearly 20 years, it's hard to ignore how the introduction of Web sites on the Internet and e-mail have enormously expanded the interaction between readers and writers.
For example, in a Water Ways column last December, I wrote about a Maui sailor's concerns over the perception among the sailors of the world that Hawaii is not "cruiser-friendly."
Some of the reasons presented included the shortage of safe, natural or man-made harbors and inhospitable treatment by the management of almost all of our state-run marinas.
Within minutes of reading the story on the Star-Bulletin Web site, a skipper of a sailboat in San Diego, Calif., sent me e-mail asking for more details on conditions for cruisers coming to Hawaii.
"I read with interest your last (column) in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin," Efraim Schwartz wrote. "As we intend to visit Hawaii on our way around the world, I thought I'd drop you an e-mail.
"My reasons are twofold," he said. "One, I need local know-how to make our trip the safest and most enjoyable. And two, I wanted you to get some information from our cruiser-side so maybe things can improve for everyone's benefit."
Schwartz went on to describe the vessel he and his father Moshe were sailing.
"Our yacht, Aliza, is 54 feet long, 16 feet wide, has a displacement of 28 tons and draws 7 feet of water," he told me.
"We are facilitating my father's dream of sailing the first Israeli-built and registered yacht around the world while flying the Israeli flag."
"I have been to Hawaii twice ... and I think your summary about problems in marina space and anchorage is in line with my observations," he said.
"The Lahaina Yacht Club commodore was very friendly and offered (us) an (offshore) mooring," Schwartz wrote. "As you said, the marina there was full of local yachts.
"In Hana, the harbormaster gave me a cost of $2 per foot a day for just anchoring (offshore). Outrageous is the only thought I had. Anchorage should be free, as it is in most of the world."
So now, Schwartz and his father would like to sail to Hawaii in mid-May and stay three or four months, "depending on how enjoyable the time is."
He added that he would like to make arrangements for berthing Aliza in a marina "on each island," because his father would be left alone on occasion as there is no permanent crew.
"What is the best way I can contact the right marinas or yacht clubs for advanced arrangements in Hawaii?" he asked.
Of course, there, as they say, is the rub. Making reservations for marina moorings in Hawaii is essentially limited to Oahu's three major yacht clubs -- Kaneohe, Hawaii and Waikiki -- and the privately operated Ko Olina Marina.
But, the fact that the question came directly from an Internet reader of this paper in California should not be lost. Nor the fact that I was able to answer him -- as well as is possible -- in a nanosecond via the same electronic mail.
Now that's interactive media.
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