WHAT can I say? Like everyone who works for the Star-Bulletin, I have been stunned by the recent announcement of the paper's imminent closing.
And now, the end is near
I know, compared to the likes of Bill Kwon or Dave Donnelly, I'm just a newcomer. But, nevertheless, this has been my column's home for more than six years and I wasn't ready to quit just yet.
In March of 1993, Mike Fitzgerald, the sports editor at that time, hired me to submit about 600 words every week dealing with recreational boating and "anything else that fit under the heading of a Water Ways column."
I have always thought it was a pretty good deal because, given the fact that Hawaii has fewer boat owners than every other state in the Union, I could also touch on subjects like water pollution, our fisheries and coastal zone management, which could have a more general readership appeal.
Being an editorial voice for boaters, though, despite their small numbers, has always been one of my highest priorities, and it will be the function that I will miss - and may be missed in the community - the most.
When the Rainbow Warriors hit the field - win, lose or draw - there will always be dozens journalists to describe their every move. But when the Transpacific Yacht Race, the world's oldest and longest blue-water yacht regatta, finishes here, you can shoot a cannon through the media center and not harm a single member of the local press.
LIKEWISE, finding a reporter to investigate the Bishop Estates is no problem in Hawaii. But, trying to find a journalist to write about the Hawaii and Waikiki yacht clubs' dozen-year battle to renew their leases with the state is another thing entirely.
With that point in mind, I would be remiss in not congratulating the Department of Land and Natural Resources for finding a way to finally do just that - that is, to renew those two leases.
Now those clubs, each with a long history of providing boating instruction, facilities and activities for the community, may look into the future - for the next 35 years, at least - with the confidence of a long-term tenant.
Incidentally, the renewed leases will also equate to more revenue for the state.
Now that both clubs can obtain long-term financing for capital improvements, their facilities can be upgraded, their memberships will grow, and the income they share with the state will correspondingly increase. And that revenue is more than membership dues, as it includes such things as taxes on sales of clothing, food and beverages.
In fact, the Hawaii Yacht Club is currently celebrating its new lease by offering the general public a complimentary two-week trial membership.
For a limited time, interested individuals or families may contact the HYC's membership chairwoman Vicki DePiano at 941-1970 to take advantage of this offer.
If you have never experienced watching the spectacular sunsets from the HYC dining room or bar, it is without question reason enough for you to give the club a look. But, add to that view the club's great food from Nick's Galley, the friendly atmosphere and the opportunity to introduce your children to boating through the junior sailing program, and you have more than enough reasons to give Vicki a call.
Oh, and I can save you asking her your first question. No, you don't have to own a boat to belong to the club.
Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.