Monday, May 2, 2005


The private Hawaii Kai Marina encompasses 13 miles of navigable waterways, and Claude Hottendorf, above, is one of four marina patrolmen who make sure everything in the marina is in order. Hottendorf says he enjoys being on the water and typically makes two rounds each day at random times, including nighttime checks.

Bloke on the water

Claude Hottendorf patrols the waters
of Hawaii Kai Marina, and he loves it

Claude Hottendorf

Title: Assistant marina manager, Hawaii Kai Marina

Job: Helps enforce marina regulations and offers assistance when needed as a waterways patrolman, and assists with related paperwork in the marina's main office

Claude Hottendorf is known to many as the coach who led University of Hawaii Laboratory High School to the state basketball championship in 1978. "Yeah, that was something else," he said with characteristic modesty on Wednesday. "But I didn't do it. It was the kids that did it." These days, the Saint Louis School graduate, who played basketball himself for three years at the University of Hawaii, coaches a crew of four marina patrolmen at Hawaii Kai Marina, where he recently was promoted to assistant marina manager. Other jobs in his career have included owning a small casualty and property insurance agency, being a commercial fisherman, and driving a tour bus. Hottendorf, 68, grew up in Kaneohe, but now lives in Hawaii Kai with his wife, Nancy. They have four grown sons, all of whom played basketball for Claude when he was the UH Lab school coach. "They had no choice," he said with a laugh.

Question: How long have you been working at the marina?

Answer: Just four years, going on five now. I started in March 2001.

Q: What did you do before?

A: I was a bus driver. For Roberts (Hawaii).

Q: How long did you do that?

A: For about eight years.

Q: So you know Hawaii pretty well?

A: Yeah, pretty well. I was a tour driver, and I took that university course for accreditation in the tourism industry. That was a neat job, but I got glaucoma. I don't know why they didn't want a blind driver driving, but ... (Laughter)... I wasn't really blind, but I have trouble driving at night because of that disease.

Q: Did you get that fixed?

A: You can't really get it fixed, but you can control it through medication.

There are many things to look out for when making the rounds at Hawaii Kai Marina. Claude Hottendorf, assistant marina manager, unmoored his boat prior to going on patrol in the east end of the marina on Wednesday.

Q: So how did you get the marina job?

A: I applied here and they took me up on it. I just laid off work for about year and a half. Just cruised around. Then applied here. And in 2000 I got my master's license from the Coast Guard for 100-ton vessels and below.

Q: Why'd you do that?

A: Just because I wanted to. I used to be a fisherman, and I always wanted to do it. Plus, I had the time after my departure from Roberts.

Q: How many marina patrolmen are there?

A: We have four.

Q: Are they all men?

A: All men. No females here yet. Just our boss is a female, Beverly (Liddle, marina manager) whom you talked to, and she's been here about 18 years.

Q: What kind of boats do you use?

A: We have two 17-foot Boston Whalers and one 19-foot Pro-Line.

What's really nice is that all of us (the patrolmen) have homes on the water and we just take the boats home after work. In fact, I take my boat home for lunch. We have a 24-hour answering service so we can respond in about 15 minutes. It's especially a good thing at night in case anything is happening. Also for the police force, if anything's happening, they call us.

Q: Where did you learn your boating skills?

A: I was a commercial fisherman from 1980 to 1992.

Q: What does the typical patrol consist of?

A: We have 13 miles of navigable waterway here, and this year I think we'll register a thousand boats, docked somewhere in the marina. A lot of those are canoes and kayaks and sailboats.

Q: Do you have a route?

A: We have a route. We divide it up. One guy takes north, one guy takes south and west. If you were to tour around the whole marina, it takes around 2 1/2 hours.

Q: What kinds of things are you looking for while you're on patrol?

A: First of all, that every boat is registered. We have decals, and we usually check to see if they have that. We look for any violations -- speeding, or sometimes people put their kids on the bow, with their legs dangling off, and that's not too safe.

Q: What about crime on the marina? I know the people at Koko Isle Circle used to complain about getting robbed from the water side.

A: They are still plagued by that. We have sporadic night patrols. Two-man night patrols, and we expose ourselves so nothing will happen and guys will see us out there.

Q: Do you ever patrol outside the marina?

A: Only to check out navigational buoys out there. We used to go out there and tow people in, but we stopped that. In case anyone is in trouble, if they're stranded outside Maunalua Bay in the open ocean, we call the Coast Guard or have some private guy do it, because our boats are real small. If they're disabled in the marina, it's no big problem. We can tow them back to the dock or wherever they want to go.

Q: What do you do when the weather is bad? Are there ever times when you won't go out on your regular patrols?

A: No, it's never really that bad. Only thing is rain, but we have sufficient rain gear to respond.

Q: What kind of equipment do you have on board for the patrols?

A: Tow ropes; we have sirens, lights, light bars, P.A. (public address) systems ...

Q: So you can yell at people?

A: (Laughter) Yeah, we don't usually have to, but sometimes we get calls. (Laughter)

He sat in his office at the Hawaii Kai Marina Community Association, which is near the Longs Drug Store in the Hawaii Kai Shopping Center.

Q: Are you guys deputized in any way by the Honolulu Police Department?

A: No, not at all. No blue lights, just yellow and red.

Q: With the speed limit in the marina being only 5 mph, do you ever get antsy, wishing you could go faster?

A: No, not really. But if some boaters decide to go a little faster, most of them will create a wake and that damages the docks and the walls. Most people are pretty good about it. Wake is a big problem here.

Q: What are some of your office duties as assistant marina manager?

A: Actually I spend maybe a little more than half my time in the office doing administrative work -- registrations and schedules.

Q: Do you work on the Christmas boat parade?

A: That's our one big item for the year. We try to talk it up. This past year was our biggest. We had 35 boats.

Q: Are you the guy who feeds all those ducks on that little island near the main highway?

A: Mostly it's done by the other patrolmen, but we do take care of them. There's geese and chickens, too. All feral. But the reason we feed them is to keep them there. Safeway gives us their old produce and Longs and the pet stores give us old dog food. They love that stuff.

And it's like a petting zoo. Parents come down there with the kids and feed the birds. The guys are real beggars. (Laughter)

Q: Why is the water in the marina basically opaque?

A: It's a natural floodzone. That's what it is. All that water coming off the mountains comes into the marina and into the ocean. That's why we have a problem with dredging, because of the silt runoff.

Q: Is there any good fishing in the marina?

A: We don't allow fishing, but we allow crabbing.

Q: What's your favorite part of the job?

A: It's being on the water. It's a great job.

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