Public marinas in shameful disrepair
I LIKE IT when people ask me hard questions, because in my search for answers, I usually learn something.
Sometimes, though, I don't get enough clues to even look it up. That happened recently when reader Carol wrote that during a trip to the Bahamas, she saw so many worms in the shallow water, she worried they might harm her in some way.
Her concern came from a previous trip to St. Thomas, because after snorkeling there, "they rinsed my hair due to worms. I should have asked questions then. Could you inform me more about the worms?"
I wish Carol would have asked questions, too, because, no, I can't inform her about the worms. I've not seen large numbers of marine worms in shallow water (they're usually buried in the sand) and never heard of them getting into someone's hair.
If anyone knows the answer to this question, please let me know. I'm curious about these wormy things in the Caribbean.
Another reader asked questions and got the wrong answer. "Whilst on holiday in Gambia last week," Becky writes, "we came across a dead snake washed up on the beach. We have been told by the locals that this is a sea snake.
"I was just looking at your site to see which type it was when I found that they are not in the Atlantic Ocean. The locals were telling us about several occasions they came across sea snakes while fishing. Can you help me find out what it was?"
I had to get out my atlas to locate Gambia. It's a small country at the westernmost tip of Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean. And Becky read right: There are no sea snakes in the Atlantic.
I didn't have to guess what kind of eel she saw though, because at my request, she sent a picture she took of the creature. It was a conger eel.
The hardest question I've been asked recently came from an Australia Customs agent who with two friends last year delivered a sailboat from Australia to San Francisco. During this long trip, they made a much-anticipated stop in Hawaii. "Tell me," this friendly man said. "What's going on with your harbors?"
My harbors. "Not much," I said, hoping he would drop the subject.
No such luck. "We were shocked when we got there. The public marinas were in terrible shape."
"They still are."
"But why?" he said.
Why, indeed. The reasoning behind the state Department of Land and Natural Resources' decision to let our harbors deteriorate to the point that it's a topic of discussion throughout the marine world is baffling. Their lack of management loses money, looks awful, hurts local boaters and gives the impression Hawaii isn't interested in visitors or the ocean.
Some people believe the disrepair of our harbors is passive punishment to Hawaii boaters for a few people's objections to mooring fee increases. I couldn't bear, however, to admit to this foreign official that our state administration might be that foolish.
"I don't know how Hawaii's harbors got to be in such a state," I said.
"We stayed at Ko Olina, which was nice but too far from the city," he said. "We couldn't get a mooring in the Waikiki harbor."
"That's because a lot of piers are broken down there."
"Where's the logic in that?" he said, sincerely.
For that, though, I will never find an answer.