Respect the ocean: National Safe Boating Week

My husband is a fisherman, and before he leaves, I always ask him who he is fishing with, where he is headed, and when to expect him back. Since he has an iPhone, I can check up on him, looking for that small green dot on the iCloud map. But I still worry, especially when he fishes alone.

May 19-25 is National Safe Boating Week and I’d like to remind everyone to be careful in the water and treat the ocean with respect. Boaters, fishermen, and paddlers need to plan for emergencies.

In Hawaii, scouring the ocean for missing boaters, fishermen, and paddlers is time-consuming, exhausting, and expensive. Rescue crews may have to search thousands of square miles of ocean. Every hour in a rescue mission costs around $17,000 for a C-130 aircraft, $7,000 for a Dolphin helicopter, and $4,000 for a Cutter or station small boat, according to the KHON2 News website ( “US Coast Guard push use of stickers that save lives and taxpayer dollars” (1/20/12). Not to mention the worry and fears of the ones left behind on shore.

Here’s a quick safety checklist for boaters and ocean enthusiasts:

1. Plan ahead. Check Hawaii beach, weather, and surf reports.

2. Wear a life jacket. Choose the right life jacket, make sure it has the proper fit, and wear it.

3. Write a float plan. Leave a float plan with someone you trust.

4. Use a Paddle Smart sticker. A simple Coast Guard “Paddle Smart” weather-proof sticker with your phone number, placed on your kayak, canoe, or surfboard ensures that you get property back, and can eliminate unnecessary search-and-rescue missions.

The Hawaii Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation recommends taking boat safety classes through the 14th District US Coast Guard Auxiliary, which offers several boating safety, boating skills, and navigation classes on Oahu; or the Honolulu Sail and Power Squadron (the Aloha Squadron), which offers basic boating and Seamanship classes, including a “Skipper Saver” program to learn about operating a boat safely in an emergency.

Whether you have a boat, paddle, surf, or enjoy watersports, it’s a good idea to know how to swim. Every summer, the Hawaii Red Cross offers free swimming lessons for children and adults at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu.

We’re lucky to be surrounded by the beautiful waters of Hawaii, but remember to treat the ocean with respect and humility!

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