Mayor Billy Kenoi met with members of the Hilo Coast Guard Flotilla on April 28 to sign a proclamation declaring May 17-23 as National Safe Boating Week. Participating in the ceremony at the Mayor’s Office were Division Commander Barbie Glaspey, public education officer Jon Olson and marine safety officer Marissa Bondaug.
Kenoi noted recreational boating is fun and enjoyable, and the Big Island is fortunate to have sufficient resources to accommodate a wide variety of pleasure boating demands.
But, said the mayor: “While being a marvelous source of recreation, boating can be a risky sport to the unprepared and those who choose to disobey the Navigation Rules or the nautical ‘Rules of the Road,’ drink alcohol or take drugs while operating a boat, or choose not to wear a life jacket.
“On average, 700 people die each year in boating-related accidents in the U. S. and approximately 71 percent of these fatalities are caused by drowning,” he said. “Modern life jackets are more comfortable, more attractive, and more wearable than styles of years past and deserve a fresh look by today’s boating public.
“Through educational awareness and public commitment, the goal is to lower the number of accidents and make Hawaii’s recreational boating safer,” said the mayor.
In conjunction with the observance, Hilo Flotilla 19 and Kona Flotilla 13 will host educational events to spread safe and responsible boating practices through information booths, vessel safety checks and public education classes.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary offers boating classes, which soon will be mandatory, and also does free vessel exams. Visit the Hilo Coast Guard Flotilla webpage at http://a1400319.wow.uscgaux.info.