Ray Pendleton Water Ways

Ray Pendleton

Dust off manual
for hurricane season

If you read Rod Antone's front page story in the Star-Bulletin about 10 days ago then you know this year's hurricane season -- from June through November -- is predicted to be relatively quiet.

The National Weather Service believes, with the absence of El Nino, that Hawaii is likely to be threatened by only two or three tropical cyclones, compared to an average year with 4.5.

Nevertheless, the NWS didn't hesitate to advise us all to consider the Hurricane Awareness Week's motto: "It Takes One -- Are You Prepared?"

This is especially true for boat owners because the effects of a tropical cyclone -- whether a disturbance, a depression, a storm, or a hurricane -- present a number of unique threats to marinas.

For this reason, the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources and the University of Hawaii's Sea Grant Program collaborated a few years ago on a booklet called the Hawaii Boater's Hurricane Safety Manual.

Available free from your local harbor master's office or the DLNR's Boating and Ocean Recreation division, the manual addresses virtually all of the boater-specific preparedness actions owners can take to safeguard their vessels.

To begin with, the manual clearly illustrates why boat owners in particular should take the threat of hurricanes seriously.

Along with high winds and torrential rain, "storm surge presents the greatest danger of the hurricane to boaters and others in low-lying coastal areas ... (a hurricane) may create a storm surge that will make the ocean rise 10 feet or more above the normal high tide level."

Boat owners should look around their marinas and try to imagine the effect of having that sort of inundation, coupled with winds blowing from 64 to over 135 knots (the defining velocity of a hurricane).

Such an image should be enough to prompt any prudent boater into getting a copy of the state's booklet to help them create a plan for survival.

"The key to protecting boats from hurricanes or any severe weather is planning, preparation and timely action," the manual points out.

To assist boat owners in those efforts, the manual presents specific measures to be taken whether a boat is trailered, in a berth, anchored, moored, or hauled out for repairs.

It also explains how boaters can implement their plans with or without the owner present, and how to determine legal and financial responsibilities.

"Marine-related facilities, service organizations and insurance companies consider it reasonable to expect boat owners to take necessary actions to secure and protect their vessels," the manual warns.

Perhaps the most important part of the manual is the two-page worksheet for boaters that when properly filled out becomes the owner's personal emergency plan and checklist.

The manual advises boat owners to distribute copies of the worksheet to their harbor master and others who might take responsibility for their vessel in their absence.

In the front of every phone book there is a section that offers suggestions for disaster preparedness for the general public, including actions to be taken in the event of a hurricane. And they are fine as far as they go.

But for anyone who owns a boat in our state, taking the additional planning steps presented in the Hawaii Boater's Hurricane Safety Manual would seem to be an imperative.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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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