Earthquake a reminder: be prepared
Last month's earthquake is still something of a hot topic among many of Oahu's boat owners, no doubt due to a quake's potential for creating a tsunami.
These are the boaters who understand that with sufficient preparation and notice, they may effectively take themselves out of harm's way, as compared to dealing with an approaching hurricane that can create perilous conditions for hundreds of miles around and leave no place to hide.
Tsunamis -- or what were once called tidal waves -- only become destructive when their water-propelled energy reaches shallow water. So by merely sailing out a mile or two offshore, boaters can easily avoid their devastating force.
Still, as they say, the devil is in the details, and that is what has sparked more than one dockside conversation.
To begin with, many question whether our state's warning system would provide adequate notice on Oahu of a tsunami generated by a quake near the Big Island. It has been noted that such a wave could arrive in less than half an hour.
And then, of course, there are the preparations that boat owners may or may not have made. They, like most people, tend to procrastinate when the danger comes as infrequently as a tsunami.
As I have mentioned in other Water Ways columns, all boaters should read and follow the guidelines provided by the state in its Hurricane and Tsunami Safety Manual for Boaters.
The manual offers boaters a number of steps they should take to bring their boats safely through a tsunami, but with the particular understanding that while their vessels may survive, the marinas they left may not.
This is why the guide quickly suggests having enough fuel, food, and water -- "and anything else you consider essential" -- aboard for at least 24 hours.
It will allow boaters to have some latitude in finding other safe ports.
Another essential for surviving a tsunami offshore, the manual points out, is having reliable communications. Marine or CB radios, cellular phones, and transistor radios are all potentially helpful, and having communication redundancy can be very important.
The manual warns, in conclusion, that boaters should be prepared to assist anyone who may have been caught by the tsunami's surge and swept out to sea, which is not an unlikely prospect.
I would add that having a well-stocked first-aid kit, and the knowledge and ability to use it would be essential in this scenario as well.
There is really no excuse for boaters not to be prepared for tsunamis when there is such an easily understood guidebook available to them. And after all, it's free at any state harbormaster's office.
Still, as one old salt down at the dock dourly observed, "If they didn't spring into action right after the quake, most of them have likely forgotten all about it by now."
Why not make him wrong and pick up your copy of the Hawaii Boater's Hurricane and Tsunami Safety Manual first thing next week?