Water Ways

By Ray Pendleton

Saturday, June 16, 2001

It’s important to
plan for hurricanes

Emergency planners often remind us that when it comes to such life threatening events as earthquakes and hurricanes, it's not a question if one will strike, just when.

But unlike the earthquakes that threaten the Pacific Rim, hurricanes don't strike Hawaii unannounced because they can be tracked for days by the National Weather Service as they approach our waters.

Nevertheless, even with the reliable forecasting of approaching hurricanes, adequate preparation requires everyone, including boat owners, to make their emergency plans long before the first warning.

Mother Nature gave her early warning of the 2001 hurricane season recently with the spawning of Hurricane Adolph off the west coast of Mexico. The storm was short-lived, but it should have been a wake-up call for us all to reassess our plans for such an eventuality.

For boat owners who haven't prepared a hurricane plan of action, I can't think of a better place to start than by picking up a free copy of the Hawaii Boater's Hurricane Manual from your local harbor master's office.

This easy-to-read, 32-page booklet, produced by the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, contains a wealth of information.

As the manual points out, hurricanes 'Iwa (in 1982) and 'Iniki (in 1992) clearly demonstrated the potential for destruction.

Total damages in Hawaii from 'Iwa were estimated at $250 million and from 'Iniki at $2.4 billion.

To assist the marine community in better understanding the threat, the manual includes a glossary of severe weather terms that may likely be used by weather forecasters prior to and during a hurricane.

Another section deals with the origin, season, characteristics and movement of hurricanes in the north-central Pacific region. As an example, a boat owner's understanding that a storm surge could raise the high tide level an additional 10 feet could be critical for a moored boat's survival.

Next, several general precautionary measures for boaters are presented. Creating an action plan, implementing the plan without the owner, determining financial responsibilities, creating an inventory and making final provisions are considered in this section.

The manual then gives more specific measures, such as dealing with trailered boats, boats in slips or on offshore moorings, and boats hauled out in a dry dock or in dry storage.

The steps to be taken in creating a hurricane plan are listed in chronological order -- from those steps necessary prior to hurricane season to those prior to a hurricane itself to those during the storm, and finally, to those after the event.

Perhaps the most important part of the manual is the Hurricane Plan Worksheet. This fill-in section allows boat owners the opportunity to develop their own personal plan for coping with hurricanes and it includes check-off lists of equipment required and equipment to be removed during the storm.

Although the local waterfront talk says that after 'Iwa and 'Iniki, we don't have to worry about a hurricane until one has a name beginning with "I" in 2002, I'd still advise making some plans now just in case.

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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