Coast Guard sets port condition WHISKEY for Hawaii County

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard Captain of the Port has set Port Condition WHISKEY for Hawaii County (Ports of Hilo and Kawaihae) as of 11 a.m. local time Sunday in advance of Hurricane Hector.

These ports and facilities are currently open to all commercial traffic, and all transfer operations may continue while Whiskey remains in effect.

Tropical storm force winds, 39 mph or higher, are possible within 72 hours. The Coast Guard reminds mariners there are no safe havens in these facilities, and ports are safest when the inventory of vessels is at a minimum. All ocean-going commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 200 gross tons should make plans for departing the port.

Vessels between 200 and 300 gross tons desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the Captain of the Port to receive permission and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing. Vessels bound for the Ports of Hilo and Kawaiihae unable to depart 24 hours before threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.

Pleasure craft operators are advised to seek safe harbor. The Coast Guard recommends port facility managers review their heavy weather plans and take all necessary precautions to prepare for the anticipated conditions adequately. Mariners can view the latest port updates on the Coast Guard’s Homeport site.

If and when the Captain of the Port sets port condition YANKEE, meaning sustained gale force winds are expected within 48 hours, all vessels should be preparing to complete cargo operations and depart port within 36 hours.

The Coast Guard reminds the public of these important safety messages:

When hurricane or tropical storm force winds are present stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search and rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This may delay help. Boaters should heed weather watches, warnings, and small craft advisories. Evacuate as necessary. Coast Guard personnel and other emergency responders may not be able to evacuate or rescue those in danger during the storm.

Secure belongings. Owners of large boats are urged to move their vessels to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or to sustaining damage. Trailer-able boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to update your Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) registration and secure them safely to your vessel before a significant storm. These devices often float free from vessels in marinas or at docks during hurricanes and signal distress when there is none. Ensure life rings, lifejackets and small boats are secured. These items, if not properly secured, can break free and require valuable search and rescue resources be diverted to ensure people are not in distress.

Stay clear of beaches. Wave heights and currents typically increase before a storm makes landfall. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by hurricanes. Swimmers should stay clear of beaches until local lifeguards and law enforcement officials say the water is safe.

Be prepared. Area residents should develop a personal or family plan, creating a 14-day disaster supply kit to include any prescriptions, having a place to go, securing their home and having a plan for pets. More information is available at the National Hurricane Center’s webpage.

Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of the storm through local television, radio, and the Internet. Boaters can track its progress on VHF radio channel 16. Information is also available through small craft advisories and warnings on VHF radio channel 16.

For information on Hurricane Hector’s progress and hurricane preparedness, please visit the National Hurricane Center‘s webpage. A small craft advisory is in effect for the Main Hawaiian Islands.

The Port Conditions are:

Condition Hurricane Season Preparedness (V): Seasonal readiness, June 1 – Nov 30.
Condition Whiskey (IV): The ALERT condition in which winds above 34 knots (39 mph) are expected within 72 hours.
Condition X-Ray (III): The READINESS condition in which winds above 34 knots (39 mph) are expected within 48 hours.
Condition Yankee (II): The WARNING condition in which winds above 34 knots (39 mph) are expected within 24 hours.
Condition Zulu (I): The DANGER condition in which winds above 34 knots (39 mph) are expected within 12 hours and until the storm has passed and is no longer a threat.

The Coast Guard will continue to Broadcast Notice to Mariners and send out a Marine Safety Information Bulletin to notify the maritime community of port condition changes.

All maritime waterway users are requested to monitor the progress of this hurricane and make preparations accordingly.

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