Coast Guard Officials Stress Boating Safety

After serious accidents and two deaths in the past year involving boaters and local tour operators, the State of Hawaii's Harbor's Division is stepping up boating safety.

Boaters now is the time to think about what you need to have on board in case the unexpected happens. That includes a way to communicate, flares, life jackets and a way to bail out a sinking boat. Several recent boating accidents serve as a reminder about the importance of boating safety. In December 2006, a child died when the mast on the Na Hoku collapsed and killed a passenger on the catamaran tour.

In March of this year a second fatal catamaran accident, this one on Maui, when the mast snapped in high winds and killed a male passenger. To compound the dangerous situation, the damaged catamaran sank.

Just last month local boaters were seriously injured when a small fishing boat exploded at the Waianae Boat Harbor.

At this week's boating safety expo at Keehi Boat Harbor the focus is not only how to prevent such accidents but how to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Organizers emphasize easy to access lifejackets. Lenny Cantor with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary urges boaters to maintain easy access to lifejackets. "If they are buried under cooler or anchor or up in the bow and you have a problem you won't have time to put them on".

New boaters learn some safety tips. Greg Nestle just bought a boat, "I'm very safety conscious, just trying to learn everything we can like here at the expo."