Water Ways

By Ray Pendleton

Saturday, November 27, 1999

It’s a good time to
count our blessings

LUCKY you live Hawaii. At times, that phrase sounds like an overworked message from the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.

But, those four words suddenly have a much deeper meaning when a day like Thanksgiving reminds us all of the importance of recognizing and giving thanks for our blessings.

With that in mind, why not take a moment to explore how we who enjoy Hawaii's ocean recreational bounties have been blessed?

To begin with, to paraphrase the Realtors, our top three blessings are location, location and location.

Situated some 2,000 miles southwest of the West Coast of North America, and just south of the Tropic of Cancer, these islands are in the best location in the world for yearlong, near-perfect weather.

That ever-moving meteorological phenomenon called the Pacific High most often can be found northeast of us, producing our cooling trade winds. The consistency of the trades creates not only a more comfortable (and smog-free) environment, but one of the best sailing venues in the world.

In the winter, that high pressure ridge often moves north of our island chain to protect us from most of the large winter storms churning west to east across the North Pacific Ocean. This becomes a double blessing, as the energy from those storms nevertheless finds its way to our North Shore in the form of giant waves, to the delight of surfers from around the world.

Hawaii's location in the middle of the vast Pacific also makes it blessedly isolated from the larger human populations inhabiting the major land masses, and from much of their environmental pollution as well.

Yes, we have concerns and are working to correct our own urban pollution from such watershed areas as the Ala Wai Canal and Pearl Harbor. But we haven't nearly the problem faced by those who live in the proximity of the Hudson, Mississippi or Los Angeles river watersheds. I certainly can't imagine an underwater tourist attraction such as Atlantis Submarines operating in such locations.

WE should be thankful, too, that the water around us is warm, but not too warm. The number and severity of the hurricanes that threaten Hawaii are generally small in comparison to those in Florida and the Caribbean Sea, and our slightly lower sea temperature is one of the factors involved.

In Hawaii, whether on a surfboard, a kayak, an outrigger canoe, a boat, or just snorkeling, all it takes is a few minutes levitating on the transparent waters surrounding our islands to appreciate our special blessings.

Add a green sea turtle swimming by, or a humpback whale breaching and spouting in the distance and the scene can be mesmerizing. Frame the whole picture under a rainbow's brilliant arch and the effect is sublime.

With just a quick glance at panoramas like these -- which we often take too much for granted - we can find numerous reasons to be abundantly thankful for our good fortune to be living in these lovely islands.

On a planet covered 70 percent by water, there are, to be sure, other islands. But it is very difficult indeed to find any that can match Hawaii, when it comes to its year-round ocean recreation potential.

So, while it might be argued that living in Hawaii involves a good deal more than luck, I think we can still find meaning in "Lucky you live Hawaii."

Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at

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