Celebrating 15 years of covering the ocean scene
April Fools' Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 and is often noted for its hoaxes and other practical jokes that are aimed at embarrassing the gullible.
So when this column originally appeared in the Star-Bulletin on April 1, 1993, I wrote at that time of my hope that Water Ways would be more than just an April Fools' Day joke. Apparently the joke was on me, because the column is now celebrating its 15th anniversary.
The whole thing began with a chance meeting with the paper's sports editor at the Honolulu Quarterback Club, back when it met at the old Flamingo Chuckwagon. He said he was looking for a recreational boating columnist, I said I would love to give it a shot, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Still, who knew I would eventually write under the guidance of at least four more editors, or even write the column's obituary once several years ago because of the apparent impending demise of the paper?
The objective of Water Ways, from the very beginning, has been to provide its readers with a broad spectrum of primarily local water-oriented topics.
To achieve that, I have attempted to vary its weekly content so it includes reports on sailing and fishing contests, issues of safe boating, pollution prevention, marina construction and maintenance, boating laws and legislation, as well as assorted human-interest sea stories.
Veteran Water Ways readers can attest to the fact that some topics are perennial in nature. Each June brings a column warning boaters of the dangers of the coming hurricane season, and every fall there is sure to be another on the latest advice for protecting our winter humpback whale population.
Perhaps the most remarkable change I have noticed after 15 years of writing this column is there is now a large number of readers who access it online at www.starbulletin.com and even more who have begun using direct e-mail rather than letters to the editor to communicate with me.
On numerous occasions folks in such far-flung places as England, Japan or even the Persian Gulf country of Qatar have used an Internet search engine to learn of Water Ways and in turn query me directly about some local boating subject.
I doubt I will ever forget being contacted by one such person living in Oregon who was looking for some way to briefly visit Palmyra Atoll.
Kathy Schmid's nearly unbelievable story of wanting to go to that isolated island because its caretakers had found the letter in a bottle she had tossed into the Pacific off Mexico some 22 months earlier eventually became the lead topic for at least three Water Ways columns.
As I have noted on previous anniversaries of this column, it has been the rich calabash of people and topics that has made Water Ways a joy to write and hopefully, an interesting read.
I would also add that I will always be indebted to those who have helped me by sharing their abundant knowledge. Mahalo!