With its near-constant trade winds and warm, crystal-clear waters, the Hawaiian Islands would seem be a sailors’ and anglers’ paradise, however for decades the state has had fewer registered boats than any other in the US.
The reasons for such a lack of interest in boating by the general public has been the subject of debate for years among Hawaii’s recreational boaters, and they cover a wide range of possibilities.
The isolation of the archipelago, along with blustery winds and heavy sea conditions in the channels between the islands are frequently noted as possible deterrents, however those conditions haven’t seemed to diminish the numbers of participants in interisland canoe races, fishing tournaments and sailing regattas.
The limited numbers of safe anchorages and boat harbor facilities around the islands have also been identified as limiting factors for attracting new boaters. But that then begs the question of why there are often multiyear waiting lists for the marinas that do exist here?
Given that the vast majority of Hawaii’s marinas are operated by the state, it might seem that it would only take the pressure of some disgruntled boater/voters to prompt the Legislature into providing funding for more and bigger boat facilities.
Unfortunately though, in politics, it’s a numbers game. Of the approximate 18,000 registered boat owners in Hawaii, about two-thirds have trailered boats that only need a launching ramp for access to the ocean and are unlikely to demand much more.
Of the remaining 6,000 boaters, about 1,400 are currently moored in the state-run marinas and another 1,400 have their boats in private or military marinas, leaving a mere 3,000 to 4,000 potentially angry boater/voters.
That small number isn’t likely to become a voting block that will concern those who are in or running for political office. Plus, generally most boaters don’t seem to be political activists to begin with.