Wear your concerns on your T-shirt
I was somewhat surprised to receive an invitation last week from the trade publication Marina Dock Age inviting me to nominate a marina from my area to run for its 2006 Marina of the Year.
The magazine advised that the winning marina would be one that has achieved success through exemplary business practices, is committed to customer service and environmental responsibility and contributes to the marina industry.
Apparently no one from that magazine had visited Hawaii recently because such criteria obviously eliminate all of our decaying state-run marinas from the running.
Granted, Leeward Oahu's privately owned Ko Olina Marina is well-run and maintained, as are several of our yacht clubs, but even they can't compare with the full-service marinas found throughout the mainland U.S.
As an example, Long Beach, Calif., is completing a $32 million renovation of its 1,700-slip Shoreline Marina with funding from a 4.5 percent interest loan from its state's Department of Boating and Waterways.
By constructing this state-of-the-art facility -- with more slips than in the whole state of Hawaii -- it's apparent that folks in that city and state understand the economic rewards that come from investing in recreational boating.
Nevertheless, I was left with a blank nomination ballot and it got me thinking about how it might be possible to bring about a renaissance of sorts for our marinas.
After witnessing how several dozen T-shirt-wearing activists recently caused an abrupt turnaround in the state's construction plans for the waterfront of Kakaako, it seems apparent that boaters must become proactive.
First, recreational boaters must agree on some common areas of concern that go beyond whether they use their boats for fishing, sailing, racing or cruising.
Even though most of Hawaii's boaters have trailered boats and think of themselves as fishermen rather than recreational boaters, they still need safe, accessible launching ramps and eventually, they may even own a boat too big for a trailer.
And those other boaters in our public and private harbors must begin to truly appreciate that the state's ongoing condemnation of slips -- without replacement -- is a loss to the whole boating community and not just to those directly affected.
Second, once these areas of concern are agreed upon, appropriately designed T-shirts should be created and distributed to as many people as possible. Press conferences and rallies can then be organized with a look of solidarity.
And finally, these newly organized recreational boaters must become more politically akamai and involved.
As Rep. Anne Stevens (Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako) noted recently, few if any boaters showed up at the legislative hearings this year in support of bills that could have helped fund boating programs. Such complacency cannot continue.
Somehow I think the sight of a large group of voters wearing "Save Our Marinas" T-shirts at next year's legislative session, or better yet, at this year's political campaign rallies, might finally get someone's attention.