It's a good time to count our blessings

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (11/27/99)
By Ray Pendleton

Lucky you live Hawai`i. At times, that phrase sounds like an overworked message from the Visitors and Convention Bureau.

But, those four words suddenly have a much deeper meaning when a day like Thanksgiving reminds us all of the importance of recognizing and giving thanks for our blessings.

With that in mind, why not take a moment to explore how we who enjoy Hawaii's ocean recreational bounties have been blessed?

To begin with, to paraphrase the realtors, our top three blessings are location, location and location.

Situated some 2,000 miles southwest of the West Coast of North America, and just south of the Tropic of Cancer, these islands are in the best location in the world for year-long, near-perfect weather.

That ever-moving meteorological phenomenon called the Pacific High most often can be found northeast of us, producing our cooling trade winds. The consistency of the trades creates not only a more comfortable (and smog-free) environment, but one of the best sailing venues in the world.

In the winter, that high pressure ridge often moves north of our island chain to protect us from most of the large winter storms churning west to east across the North Pacific Ocean. This becomes a double blessing, as the energy from those storms nevertheless finds it way to our North Shore in the form of giant waves, to the delight of surfers from around the world.

Hawaii's location in the middle of the vast Pacific also makes it blessedly isolated from the larger human populations inhabiting the major land masses, and from much of their environmental pollution as well.

Yes, we have concern and are working to correct our own urban pollution from such watershed areas as the Ala Wai Canal and Pearl Harbor. But, we haven't nearly the problem faced by those who live in the proximity of the Hudson, Mississippi, or Los Angeles river watersheds. I certainly can't imagine an underwater tourist attraction such as Atlantis Submarines operating in such locations.

We should be thankful too that the water around us is warm, but not too warm. The number and severity of the hurricanes that threaten Hawai`i are generally small in comparison to those in Florida and the Caribbean Sea, and our slightly lower sea temperature is one of the factors involved.

In Hawai`i, whether on a surfboard, a kayak, an outrigger canoe, a boat, or just snorkeling, all it takes is a few minutes levitating on the transparent waters surrounding our islands to appreciate our special blessings.

Add a green sea turtle swimming by, or a humpback whale breaching and spouting in the distance and the scene can be mesmerizing. Frame the whole picture under a rainbow's brilliant arch and the effect is sublime.

With just a quick glance at panoramas like this - which we often take too much for granted - we can find numerous reasons to be abundantly thankful for our good fortune to be living in these lovely islands.

In a world covered over 70 percent by water, there are, to be sure, other islands. But, it is very difficult, indeed, to find any that can match Hawai`i, when it comes to its year-round ocean recreation potential.

So, while it may be argued that living in Hawai`i involves a good deal more than luck, I think we can still find meaning in "Lucky you live Hawai`i."

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