Hurricane manual a must for boaters

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (05/22/99)
By Ray Pendleton

In reference to Hurricane Awareness Week 1999, Hawaii's weather forecasters have predicted a normal hurricane season (June through November), meaning we should be threatened by about five tropical cyclonic storms and one hurricane this year.

That doesn't sound bad until you remember that it only takes one direct hit to cause deaths, injuries and billions of dollars in property damage. Remember too, it's been seven years since Hurricane Iniki blew through our island chain and Kaua`i is still recovering from its effects.

For the general, land-based population, the usual advise is to check out the front pages of their white pages phone book for disaster planning instructions. But, for boat owners, those instructions leave much to be desired.

Fortunately, since last year, there are now boater-specific hurricane safety instructions available, courtesy of the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program.

Entitled Hawaii Boater's Hurricane Safety Manual, this 32-page booklet contains a wealth of information and instructions on actions boaters should take before, during and after a severe storm or hurricane.

In the opening pages, the manual presents a glossary of terms used by weather forecasters in connection with severe weather. There one can note that a tropical storm, with winds sustained at 73 miles per hour, may seem like a hurricane, but it's not until its winds increase to 74 or more miles per hour (64 knots) you may call it one.

The manual begins with general information about hurricanes: their origin, season, characteristics and movement patterns. It stresses that for boaters, the storm surge created by a hurricane presents the greatest danger, as it may cause a rise of 10 feet or more above the normal high-tide level.

Next, the manual discusses general precautionary measures boaters should take to avoid or minimize damage. These include making a plan of action and providing for implementation of the plan if the owner is absent.

This is followed by more specific measures that should be taken, depending upon the boat's storage situation, i.e., trailered, berthed, on an offshore mooring, or hauled out of the water.

The manual then gives directions for developing a hurricane plan with four distinct checklist sections: prior to hurricane season, prior to the hurricane, during the hurricane, and after the hurricane. It also provides similar checklists for marina and boatyard operators.

With respect for the destructive power of hurricanes, the manual also has a section that outlines the procedure for processing vessel claims with the boat owner's insurance carrier.

A hurricane plan worksheet is next, with fill-in information provided by the boat owner, along with a last-minute checklist. As an added benefit, the manual also contains a section devoted to tsunami, or seismic sea wave, information and suggested actions for boaters.

The manual ends with a list of emergency assistance phone numbers and radio frequencies. These numbers are duplicated on a separate laminated plastic card, together with the most important hurricane safety tips for boat survivability. With hurricane season nearly here, now is a great time to pick up a copy at your closest state boat harbor office, civil defense office, or Coast Guard office. Boat clubs wishing multiple copies should contact DLNR's Pearlyn Fukuba at 587-3250.

Last week's Column ~|~ 1999 Water Ways ~|~ Water Ways Archives

HoloHolo Hawai`i Ocean Sports News