Bay safety effort under way


POSTED: Sunday, May 30, 2010

Encouraged by the success of efforts at the Ahu o Laka sandbar in Kaneohe Bay, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is stepping up patrols and boater education this Memorial Day weekend at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai.

The bay is popular with enthusiasts using personal watercraft and was also the site of a fatal diving accident Oct. 5 when a boat ran over a 17-year-old diver.

Meghan Statts, Oahu district manager for the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, said problems at the Ahu o Laka sandbar dropped noticeably last year after the DLNR and the Coast Guard began Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend patrols and boating safety education efforts on holiday weekends in 2008.

“;We had a lot of complaints about the parties, the drinking and the fights at the sandbar,”; Statts said. Now, she said, more families are able to enjoy the sandbar.

Yesterday, Clifford Inn, an education specialist with the Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, used binoculars to check safety and registration decals on boats in Maunalua Bay.





Below are some of the rules all boaters must follow:

>> All vessels going more than a mile from shore must be equipped with VHF radio or approved EPIRB.
        >> Children under 13 aboard a vessel anchored off shore or underway must wear an approved life vest unless in an enclosed cabin or below deck.
        >> Personal watercraft operators must be certified to operate a PWC through a state-approved safety course.
        >> All recreational vessels must report boating accidents when a casualty occurs or when damage exceeds $200.
        >> Purging a marine sanitation device into harbor waters is prohibited.
        >> Certain offshore areas (including military harbors, off-shore petroleum platforms) are off limits to boaters.
        >> All boats must bear proper numbering and permit stickers to use state boat ramps, facilities and fishing areas.
        >> No person shall approach or cause a watercraft to approach within 100 yards of a humpback whale in state waters and within 300 yards within designated cow/calf areas.


Education is also part of this weekend's boating safety effort.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary offered free inspections. Three boats failed and eight passed yesterday morning.

The failed boats didn't have a throwable personal flotation device, a VHF radio or emergency position-indicating radio beacons, or a whistle, said Roger Stone, the Coast Guard Auxiliary's deputy district commander for recreational boating safety. “;It's like flying an airplane. You need a checklist to remind yourself,”; he said.

The DLNR offered registration services to boaters and handed out free safety whistles and mirrors. They also offered to lend child safety vests to boaters.

Last year statewide, four people died and four disappeared and were presumed dead in 31 recreational boating accidents involving 34 vessels.