New Year's Eve
requires some special precautions

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (12/25/99)
By Ray Pendleton

Mele Kalikimaka boaters. Now that Christmas is here, maybe it's time to turn our attention to New Year's Eve.

If last Fourth of July was any indication, there will certainly be many offshore areas around the state where unusually hazardous boating conditions will be precipitated by public fireworks displays. Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island, Kaanapali, on Maui, and Kaneohe, Hawaii Kai and Waikiki, on O`ahu, all come to mind as potential problem areas.

The Hawaii Operational Safety Team for ocean users (HOST), has been advised that along with the dinner cruise boats and the recreational boaters off Waikiki, there will likely be jet skiers, canoers, kayakers, surfers, and even SCUBA divers celebrating offshore at the stroke of midnight. It has therefore issued an advisory listing several tips for all of you venturing out on the water.

For safe-boating on New Year's Eve 1999:

Boaters should be aware that the Coast Guard will be out in full force to provide an optimum emergency response. It will also be making random safety inspections, so boaters should not leave the dock without all required safety equipment, especially life jackets for all passengers.

Remember that, unlike the Fourth of July, when the fireworks began at dusk, the fireworks next Friday won't begin until midnight, which extends the party well into the night. Boating under the influence of alcohol (BUI) will likely be more prevalent, so drive your craft defensively.

HOST advises all boaters to have non-drinking, designated drivers at the helm, and for everyone to be especially watchful for erratic boat operators.

It also cautions boaters their visibility may be limited due to smoke from the fireworks. If skippers can't see, they should try to stay in one place until the air clears.

HOST recommends every boat should have some way to communicate with the authorities, as boaters may be more likely to encounter difficulties. Coast Guard-monitored Channel 16 on VHF radio is the best, but calling *USCG, 911, or 0, on a cellular phone will work as well. CB radio is not recommended because there is no official monitoring of its frequency.

Boaters should never fire emergency flares as fireworks because the Coast Guard must regard such flares as a request for help and respond to them. Further, anyone seeing flares being shot from a vessel should immediately report the sighting and its location to the Coast Guard.

Along with HOST's tips for boating safety on New Year's Eve, I would like to add a couple of my own.

Paddlers on canoes and kayaks should remember they are nearly invisible on the water at night., so even though they are not required to, they should NOT go out without battery-operated running lights.

And, finally, two things all boat operators should be sure NOT to do: exceed a "no wake," or 5 mph speed limit, and, think that anyone can use fireworks safely on board a boat.

Now, I would like to say mahalo to all of the people who have supported the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in its time of crisis. The fact that I am still writing a Water Ways column some three months after the paper was to close means my Christmas wish has been answered.

See you right here on the first day of 2000. Hau`oli makahiki hou!

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