Coast Guard reminds mariners to prepare, exercise caution in high surf

National Weather Service LogoHONOLULU — The Coast Guard warns boaters and beach goers to exercise caution in all Hawaiian waters through Thursday as the National Weather Service has issued a high surf warning for north and west facing shores of Niihau and Kauai and for north facing shores of Oahu, Molokai, and Maui.

The Coast Guard reminds all who work and play in island waters that conditions are more dangerous during potentially high surf conditions. This will also result in very dangerous swimming conditions and rip currents.

“Large waves that approach the north shores can produce heavy surf at area beaches” said Lt. j.g. Ekhi Arzac, the enforcement division assistant chief at Coast Guard Sector Honolulu. “Waves over 20 feet can create dangerous surf conditions and very strong rip currents. Large waves can surprise even the most experienced mariner and beachgoer causing disorientation, serious injury, or death.”

In addition, marinas and boaters are reminded to check that boats in port are properly secured, bilge pumps are functional, and all loose items are removed from decks. Report any boats adrift, pollution or other maritime emergencies to the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center at 808-842-2600 or to the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.

Mariners should check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water.

Here are some tips for those who choose to go out on the water during the potentially heavy weather:

  • Leave a float plan with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location and who they should call if you do not return as scheduled.
  • Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket and set the example for your passengers or paddling partners.
  • Be prepared for the shock of sudden immersion and the disabling effects of cold water. Plan for the worst: dress as though you are going to get wet and be cold.
  • Maintain awareness on the water — be aware of activity around your vessel including changing weather, and always know your location.
  • Be responsible — know that alcohol and drugs cause accidents and sometimes death.
  • Don’t boat alone — boating alone is not recommended. Recreational paddlers canoeists and kayakers often travel with a single craft and one partner, or even solo, but it is recommended you canoe, kayak or boat with at least three people or two craft.
  • Kayakers and paddlers are highly encouraged to use the Paddle Smart Identification Sticker. In situations where a craft is found without its paddler, this sticker can allow the Coast Guard to quickly identify who to contact and determine whether they have an emergency rescue situation on their hands.
  • Know your limitations — be honest with yourself and your companions. Your life and the lives of those in your party may depend on how everyone understands each other’s capabilities.

In addition, boaters are strongly encouraged to have a VHF marine radio on board to monitor weather conditions, communicate with other mariners and call for help in the event of an emergency. The Coast Guard reminds all mariners that channel 16 is an emergency frequency, and should be used for such.

Safety equipment requirements vary by size and type of vessel, for more information visit: http://www.uscgboating.org/.

For the National Weather Service advisories, click the following link: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/

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