Safe-boating course is a worthwhile investment

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (06/05/99)
By Ray Pendleton

It was just a small item in the newspaper: Boat hits reef at Nanakuli.

Winds dislodged an anchored fishing boat and drove it onto the reef, the story read.

Damage to the 15-foot vessel was estimated at $8,000, but there were no injuries. Few other details were given, so let's fill in the blanks with our imagination.

A couple of guys had launched their brand new 15-foot outboard at the Waianae Harbor boat ramp at daybreak and headed out for some offshore fishing. There was a light breeze blowing down the canyons and out to sea.

By late morning, the beer was running low and the fish weren't biting, so they decided to anchor their boat and swim in to shore to have lunch with some friends.

As they ate and talked story, the weather was changing.

The warming sun was causing the air inland to rise and to correspondingly draw the cooler air above the ocean on shore, opposite of the earlier offshore flow.

As the wind switched directions, the fishermen's boat began tugging on its anchor in the opposite direction it had been set and within moments, the anchor was free of it's hold on the bottom and the boat was being blown up onto the reef.

Once aground, the plastic boat was reduced to flotsam in a matter of minutes.

Of course, some might just write this story off under the heading of "accidents will happen." But, I can assure you, not the members of the United States Power Squadron.

As the nation's largest private boating organization, the Power Squadron has taught more than three million students how to be better boaters and how to avoid such costly mistakes.

Now, in an attempt to attract everyone - teenagers and up - who have put off taking its multi-week safe boating course because of the time commitment, the Honolulu Power Squadron is offering a Boat Smart course for 4 hours on two consecutive Saturday mornings.

Beginning June 12, at 9 a.m., at the Waikiki Yacht Club - near the Diamond Head end of Ala Moana Park - those new to boating or old-but-rusty salts will have the opportunity to learn or relearn all of the basics.

The classes will begin with boat terminology and design concepts, and then work into general boat handling and elementary seamanship. This will include instruction in casting off, turning and stopping, boating courtesy, anchoring, and docking for both sail and power boats.

Next, students will be versed in the various international, federal and state boating laws and regulations, including those dealing with fire safety and pollution control.

Navigation rules and how to navigate a boat with the use of charts and aids to navigation are subjects that will follow, along with instruction on tides, currents and other coastal phenomenon.

The course will conclude with discussion on topics such as marine radio/telephone operation, understanding marine weather, and troubleshooting inboard and outboard engines.

Because seating is limited for this course (did I mention it is free?) my guess is that enrolling early by calling 846-9000 would be a very smart move.

I would also guess that if you complete this course, there's a good chance you'll avoid the trauma of seeing your boat turning into reef wreckage on some future cruise.

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