Drawing the line


POSTED: Sunday, May 03, 2009

A string of buoys will separate swimmers and stand-up paddlers at the Ala Moana Beach lagoon under a proposal that appeared to have the support of most paddlers and swimmers at a public meeting yesterday.

;[Preview]  Ala Moana Beach Users Discuss Water Safety Issues

Stand up paddlers and swimmers has overcrowded the beach and a meeting discussed a safety plan that could allow people to enjoy both sports.

Watch  ]


The state Department of Land and Natural Resources offered the plan at the meeting called to discuss ways to avoid conflict and collisions between the two groups.

Clifford Inn, of the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, said the state will run a string of eight to 11 buoys from Magic Island to the Ewa end of the lagoon, creating an 80-foot-wide corridor between the reef and buoys. Paddlers will be asked to stay on the deeper end of the buoys and swimmers can use the shallow side.

Inn said the buoys will likely be put in place in two months on a trial basis. The DLNR will continue to take public comments for six to eight months and then make a decision on whether to keep them.

About 100 people were at the meeting at McCoy Pavilion yesterday. Inn said later that there was “;no vehement opposition.”;

There are still some details that need to be worked out.

Some swimmers objected to allowing paddlers to access the water anywhere along the beach and asked the state to create specific access points for stand-up paddlers.

Swimmer Diane Stowell noted most swimmers have their heads down in the water and are just looking straight ahead.

“;My concern is about the paddlers being able to enter the water at any time or place because the swimmers can't see them,”; she said.

Paddlers said parking at Ala Moana is too difficult and their boards are too heavy to carry long distances to access points.

“;We never had any injuries with the surfers going out. Would it be possible for them (paddlers) to belly down to paddle out, or at least kneel down, or wear a leash?”; swimmer Jan Fong said.

In response, Shane Kapea demonstrated why he can't lie down and paddle.

“;This belly is too fat for me to lie down and for my arms to get into the water,”; he said. “;That's why we stand up.”;

Paddlers also expressed concern about not being able to learn in shallow areas.

“;It (Ala Moana lagoon) is the most ideal place for them to learn. It's got the calmest waters,”; Kapea said.

“;We are ultra-cautious about staying away from swimmers. But if a paddler is not a strong swimmer, he won't go far out (from shore),”; said Judy Anderson.

Inn said the DLNR would look at creating a shallow area for children who paddleboard and consider access corridors and having paddlers wear leashes.