Be prepared, even if the state isn’t
It was a good news, bad news situation that reporter Rosemarie Bernardo wrote about in Tuesday's Star-Bulletin.
The good news was that Hawaii can expect to be threatened by less than the average number of tropical storms this season. But it was also bad news because such predictions often lead to both public and governmental apathy toward hurricane preparedness.
As veteran Water Ways readers know, since June through November is hurricane season here in the Central Pacific, it's time for my annual reminder to recreational boaters to get prepared for those storms.
In the past, when advising boaters on the best ways to prepare, I have always recommended they visit their nearest harbormaster's office and pick up a copy of the Hawaii Boater's Hurricane Safety Manual that was co-published by The Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program.
The manual is a mere 32 pages, but it is loaded with practical ideas for hurricane survival. Most importantly, it offers boat owners a worksheet they can fill out detailing the actions they intend to take when such a storm approaches.
Unfortunately though, after making phone calls to several harbormasters around the state, it appears that I might need to expand my warnings to boaters this year to include an advisory as well to those who are in charge of our public marinas.
Of the eight harbormasters I called Wednesday morning to ask if they had manuals available, three -- Waianae, Haleiwa, and Nawiliwili -- had their answering machines on. Another three -- Ala Wai, Keehi and Lahaina -- told me they were out of manuals and didn't know when they would have any more.
The harbormaster at Honokohau, on the other hand, said he had cases of manuals, while the one in Hilo, on the other side of the Big Island, wasn't sure what I was talking about.
Perhaps even worse than finding a shortage of manuals, I got the singular impression there are no standard operating procedures in place to cope with hurricanes at any of our state small boat harbors.
I have been told that copies of the hurricane manual will soon be available again at all harbormaster offices. Hopefully, they will take time to read it as well.
It's apparent that, although the manual has been in print for a decade, pages 12 through 15 that apply to harbor and marina operators haven't been either read or followed.
Boaters can get started developing a written plan of action that will be followed if a hurricane approaches before the manuals are available.
Their plan should describe whether a vessel must be secured in its slip, hauled out and secured, or trailered to a safer location. It should also make note of any electronics, outboards, sails, fishing gear, dinghies, or other equipment that should be removed prior to a storm's arrival.
Completing such a plan well in advance can help boat owners (or marina operators) make rational, well thought-out decisions before the pressure of an impending disaster can cloud their decision-making process.