Chance meeting led to wonderful opportunity
Today marks the 14th anniversary of this column and no one could be happier than I that it's not just an April Fools Day joke.
After all, it began with a chance meeting with Mike Fitzgerald, who was then the Star-Bulletin's sports editor, at the Honolulu Quarterback Club at the old Flamingo Chuck Wagon.
After learning I wrote about recreational boating for several national magazines, he asked if I would be interested in doing a weekly column for him about local boating. Obviously, I said yes.
Still, in all honesty, it never occurred to me -- or to him, no doubt -- that I would still be at it 14 years and some 700 columns later. Heavens, the paper itself was nearly history at least once since then.
Now don't misunderstand, this column's longevity doesn't compare with those of Charley Memminger or the late Dave Donnelly. However, when you consider that no other publication in Hawaii offers its readers a weekly column devoted to boating, you have to be impressed with the Star-Bulletin's perseverance.
Among the things I have enjoyed most about writing this column is the historical perspective it has given my three regular readers and I.
For instance, one of the topics in Water Ways' first six months was about a resolution that had been passed by Hawaii's House of Representatives asking for a comprehensive study of the revenue and service operations of all state-run small boat harbors and launching ramps.
I wrote at the time that it could hopefully bring about needed changes in mooring maintenance, marina management and slip fees.
Now, flash forward to 2007 and after multiple audits, we find that our politicians, bureaucrats, and the public alike are still no closer to deciding who is to blame for our dysfunctional state-run marinas and how to best fix them.
On a more positive note, we have also witnessed the outstanding development and maturation of many of the personalities in Hawaii's boating community.
Thanks must go to Oahu's three major yacht clubs -- Kaneohe, Hawaii and Waikiki -- as all continue to provide world-class sailing and boating safety instruction for hundreds of young people every year.
This has in turn laid the foundation for sailors like ASSETS School graduate Andrew Lewis to go from the Waikiki Yacht Club's Junior Sailing program to being selected to crew professionally aboard some of the fastest and most prestigious racing yachts in the world.
One of the biggest changes recently in writing Water Ways has been the advent of the Internet and its connectivity with the world. No one could have imagined 14 years ago I would hear from someone in the Middle East country of Qatar who reads the column on the Star-Bulletin's Web site.
Perhaps there is hope that if someone halfway around the world can be interested in Hawaii's boating issues, our local movers and shakers will eventually do the same.