Water Ways

By Ray Pendleton

A lot of boating in
10 years, 500 columns

TODAY'S column is something of a milestone for me. It marks the 500th Water Ways column I've written for the Star-Bulletin and the column's 10th anniversary.

Agreed, that's no big deal compared to veteran columnist Dave Donnelly, but considering it all began with a chance meeting with Mike Fitzgerald, the sports editor 10 years ago, it comes as something of a surprise.

Fitzgerald and I were introduced at a Honolulu Quarterback Club meeting at the old Flamingo Chuck Wagon.

After learning I wrote for several boating magazines, he asked if I'd be interested in doing a weekly piece for the paper. Without hesitation, I said yes and the rest, as they say, is history.

In fact, glancing back at those 500 columns, they appear to have chronicled much of our recreational boating community's past decade.

In my first Water Ways column, among other subjects, I wrote about committee chairperson Susan Jacquelin of the Aloha Council of the Boy Scouts Sea Explorer Ship 1.

At that time her sons, 13-year-old P.J. and 18-year-old Pierson, were active sea scouts and junior sailors at Waikiki Yacht Club.

Now, after the fastest decade of my life, suddenly Pierson is a successful film editor in Hollywood and P.J. graduated from the California Maritime Academy and is the second mate aboard an ultra tanker.

Oh, and their mom, although remarried and with her last name now Harper, is still watching over sailors, albeit slightly older, as a civilian employee for Coast Guard Group Honolulu.

From the beginning, my sole purpose has been to provide readers with information on a broad spectrum of water-oriented subjects.

So along with interviews and human interest stories, column topics have included sailing and fishing contests, safe boating issues, boating facilities updates, water pollution prevention efforts, and boating laws, rules and legislation.

Some topics return again and again on an annual or biennial schedule. This year's Transpacific Yacht Race and Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament are good examples, as are the annual returns of the humpback whales and our hurricane season.

One reoccurring subject that can now be put to rest was the long overdue dredging of the Ala Wai Canal. Finally, that operation began last year and is expected to be completed by midsummer. Of course, we may have to start nagging about it again in another decade.

Other topics have been less cyclical and they ordinarily involved people's accomplishments.

One individual who quickly comes to mind is McKinley High graduate Brian "BJ" Caldwell.

From June, 1995 to October, 1996, thanks to radio and phone messages relayed to me through his mother, Caldwell kept Water Ways readers current on his extraordinary voyage around the world alone on a 26-foot sloop. He eventually became the youngest person at the time to complete such a circumnavigation.

About two years ago, after learning the Star-Bulletin would continue to be published, I expressed my relief and satisfaction by saying that it has been the rich calabash of people and topics that has made Water Ways a joy to write and hopefully, an interesting read.

Today, I still can't think of a better way to say it.

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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