Boat Smart, Get A Chart

You just took delivery of your new 24-foot Grady White fishing boat and set it up with all the best in fishing gear. But did you buy one of the most important things for that new boat – a NOAA navigation chart? Why bother with a chart you ask? Many people do not know, for example that there is a Prohibited Area depicted on Chart NOS 19357, among others, just off the entrance to Pearl Harbor? So what’s the big deal? Bullets! The military operates a heavily used rifle range just Ewa (west, towards Ewa Beach) of the harbor entrance. Take a look at the chart and you’ll see Danger Zone 334.1370 marked with magenta dashed lines and right next to it another danger area called a Small Arms Firing Area. A similar prohibited area and danger zone is depicted around the Marine Corps Base Kaneohe. This “Keep Out” area is called the Kaneohe Bay Naval Defense Sea Area.

The Boating and Ocean Recreation Division of DLNR get calls from boaters complaining that someone was shooting guns near Ewa Beach. And that by the time you motor up to the warning signs and can read them you are already in the impact area. First, it is YOUR responsibility as a boater to know where you are and know where you can’t go according to a chart. This area has been depicted for many years, yet the Navy stays busy chasing people away from this very dangerous place. And they will fine you for encroaching into this area.

It is the mark of an akamai (smart) mariner to do a little checking before going out for a day of fun on the water. Here is a link to our Local Notices to Mariners put out by the Coast Guard: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/

You can also subscribe to the weekly Local Notices to Mariners (LNM). It is very important to check with the LNM’s and find out about special precautions you must take to avoid military exercises around our waters. It also gives you important information on the status of buoys, lights, harbors and much more. New rules are also posted here. Did you know, for example, that the U.S. Coast Guard implemented a new rule stating that you cannot approach within 100 yards of any Navy vessel? And did you know that you must be at a NO WAKE speed within 500 yards of any naval vessel? Pleading ignorance will not spare you from a $250,000 fine and 6 years in prison. Approaching commercial vessels, like cruise ships will result in an immediate boarding by the US Coast Guard.

After 9/11 the Department of Homeland Security and the US Coast Guard established nine Hawaiian Port Security Zones. These are restricted entry areas. You can pass through them if you call and get permission first. Just call the Captain of the Port (COPT) on marine VHF channel 16 or by phone at 808-541-2477. Persons entering the zone without authorization may be subject to a penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation and imprisonment of up to 10 years. Where are these 9 areas? Get a chart and find out or face imprisonment of up to 10 years.

Charts are available at boating supply stores, on-line boating supply stores, marina retail stores and on-line at http://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/pdfcharts/.  Boat smart. Get a chart.

For more information, contact the US Coast Guard at 808-541-2477, or the DOBOR office at 808-587-1963.