USCG: Be vigilant when boating. Hawaii’s waters can catch you off guard

Casey Lund got a first-hand look of what a day in the life of US Coast Guard is like when patrolling Hawaii's waters.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:51 AM HST|Updated: May. 23, 2023 at 11:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s National Safe Boating Week!

The United States Coast Guard is working to get the word out about operating vessels responsibly and keeping Hawaii waters safe for everyone.

The agency patrols and defends 750 miles of shoreline. Its fleet of watercraft at Sector Honolulu are vital to its mission, but just as important are the air assets at Barber’s Point.

Lt. Cmdr. Jack Sauve grew up in Wahiawa. He knows Hawaii and just how dangerous the waters off our island home can be.

“Everybody in the aircraft is always looking outside, looking to see if we see anybody who could potentially be in distress. That’s pretty rare, honestly, to just come across somebody,” Sauve explained.

“But also, there’s the boating safety aspect to it, so we look for people who are maybe not properly equipped or have too many people on board. We will definitely get that back to our folks over at Sector Honolulu,” he added.

Sauve said his team is fortunate in that they have great partners here through Honolulu Ocean safety and county fire departments but they’re always ready to jump into action when they’re needed.

Hawaii has more than 750 miles of coastline and the Coast Guard is tasked with keeping those waters safe and helping people when they get into trouble.

“We don’t get involved until cases kind of drag out a little bit longer if somebody goes missing, or if there’s some sort of distress farther offshore, then we’ll typically respond at that point,” added Sauve.

The MH 65 Dolphin helicopter is an important and agile tool for the Coast Guard. It’s used mostly in responding to short range mission along the coastline but it can still travel far on a single tank of gas when an emergency calls for it.

“That’ll get us about to the Big Island, maybe a little bit of search time on scene and then we’ll have to refuel at that point,” said Sauve.

“These helicopters cover the whole state of Hawaii have about 100 mile range. For our longer range capabilities, we utilize our C 130 J models which can reach some of the outer areas that we cover. In total our area of response 12.2 million square miles,” said Commander Dave Milne.

Milne said those capabilities were needed just a couple weeks back when a Coast Guard crew from Barbers Point rescued three people aboard a 17-foot wooden boat more than 70 miles west of Abaiang Island in Kiribati.

“We can drop things out of the aircraft to assist the local mariners in distress, whether it be pumps, water pumps, if they’re taking on water, food supply, water supply, rescue rafts life jackets,” added Milne.

The Coast Guard reminds boaters to check current and future weather conditions and have a plan for every trip while also notifying someone on land about your trip and scheduled return time.

“Everybody thinks that in Hawaii, the weather is always gorgeous, but you know, the ocean conditions here can can change very rapidly. Swells come in very quickly and if you’re not expecting it, or if you’re not paying attention to the weather forecasts that can really catch you off guard. I think that’s probably one of the bigger dangers,” added Sauve.

The US Coast Guard and other agencies have a wealth of information resources to make sure that you’re operating your boat safely when you head out on the water.

You can find more information by clicking here.

To apply for a vessel safety check, click here.