Education a key to safety on the sea

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin 01/25/03)
By Ray Pendleton

Shortly after writing about the Honolulu Power Squadron's safe boating course currently being given at the Waikiki Yacht Club, I got an e-mail from Bob Airhart, the past district commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard's 14th District Auxiliary.

"Great article," he wrote. "We need more concerned people like you to help us educate boaters.

"The Auxiliary -- that has been active in Hawaii since 1942 -- has taught thousands of Hawaii's boaters and hopes to teach thousands more," Airhart noted.

"In the past few years the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Power Squadron have been combining their public education programs," he told me, "and in fact, the class you advertised for the Power Squadron is a cooperative program of these two great organizations.

"As our Flotilla 1-14 will be presenting the same classes at Kalaheo High School beginning February 10, would you be kind enough to give us some help in your column?" Airhart asked.

Naturally, I could hardly say no. And because of its location, it is likely that this course is more convenient for those boaters on the windward side of O`ahu.

For those who may have missed my earlier column, let's run through the major subjects that are covered in this multi-week course. They are:

>> Basic boating terminology, including design concepts of sail and power craft.

>> Elementary knot-tying and line-handling.

>> Boat-handling, with a focus on the similarities and differences of sail, power and personal watercraft (jet skis).

>> Basic navigation and anchoring skills, including casting off, docking, fueling, turning, stopping and boating courtesy.

>> Aids to navigation, such as buoys, daymarks and range lights.

>> Proper marine radio procedures for normal and emergency use.

>> Marine navigation charts, course-plotting and compass use.

>> State, federal and international boating laws and regulations.

I would hope that it is clearly understood how taking such a course can benefit any boat operator.

Quite simply, he or she will be much more likely to make the kind of decisions that bring boaters back safely every time they venture offshore. And, with Hawaii's isolated location in the Pacific, not coming back safely often means not coming back at all.

Apparently many insurance companies understand this because boaters who successfully pass the course are often given lower premium rates than those who have not.

Agencies such as the Coast Guard also appreciate boaters who take the time to educate themselves about safe boating practices because it tends to diminish the number of search and rescue missions they are frequently required to run each year.

This is not only a money-saving factor for them, but in post-9/11 times, it allows them more time for homeland security operations.

As with the Power Squadron's safe boating course, the Coast Guard Auxiliary offers these classes free of charge, except for a nominal fee for study materials.

For more information about this course, or to enroll, call (808) 247-3793.

Last week's Column ~|~ Water Ways Archives

HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News