Safety manual
has valuable information for boaters

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (5/16/98)
By Ray Pendleton

Boat Smart from the Start. That is the theme of this year's National Safe Boating Week, which begins today.

Sponsored by the Coast Guard, with cooperation from the National Safety Council and Hawaii's Department of Natural Resources, the week-long observance will stress the need for proper planning for all safe boating activities.

The use of life jackets will be emphasized as the number-one way to save lives and this year, thanks to the DLNR and the Sea Grant Program at the University of Hawaii, a new safety manual will be made available to boaters throughout the state.

Entitled "Hawaii Boater's Hurricane Safety Manual," it provides boaters and other members of the maritime community with a checklist of actions they may want to take before, during and after a severe storm or hurricane. There is also a special section dealing with tsunami, or seismic sea waves.

The booklet's release, along with coinciding with Safe Boating Week, is particularly timely as Hawaii's official hurricane season begins on June 1, and some storms have developed as early as May.

For boaters and everyone else in low-lying coastal areas, the effect from a hurricane - violent wind, torrential rain, abnormally high surf, and storm surge - can be a serious threat to life and property. With normal high tides at a foot and a half, just a storm surge alone of 10 feet or more could be devastating.

After giving useful information about the nature of tropical storms and hurricanes, the manual continues by giving boaters general precautionary measures they can use in preparation for such disasters. Some of the steps are: creating a written hurricane plan, arranging for the plan to be carried out when the owner is absent, ascertaining mooring and insurance responsibilities, and removing portable items of value.

The manual then goes into specific precautionary measures for boats on trailers, boats berthed in slips, boats on offshore moorings and boats hauled out of the water.

Next, the manual examines the steps boaters should take in developing a hurricane plan. It details four time frames for appropriate action: before hurricane season, before a hurricane (when a Hurricane Watch has been issued), during a hurricane and after a hurricane. A section follows with the same considerations for harbor and marina operators, boat builders and dealers, and boat repair yards.

With a realistic view of damage potential, two full pages of the manual are devoted to general procedures for processing vessel insurance claims and steps boat owners can take to expedite the process.

Another two pages contain a boat owner's hurricane plan worksheet. It offers a fill-in-the-blanks information record and checklist of the most important actions to be taken in such emergencies.

The manual ends with a tsunami warning guide, a suggested boat evacuation plan, and considerations for a boat at sea during and after a tsunami.

The manual also contains a comprehensive list of marine-related phone numbers, which is duplicated, along with a condensed version of hurricane safety tips, on a separate laminated card.

Together, the manual and the card represent some of the most valuable information yet provided to Hawaii's boaters. They are available free of charge at all state small boat harbor offices, civil defense offices, or by calling DLNR's Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation at 587-1963.

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