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Hawaii officials warn boaters of no alcohol rule

Sandbar in Kaneohe Bay
Sandbar in Kaneohe Bay
Google Earth

Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources this week reminded recreational boaters it would be enforcing its “no alcohol” rule over the Labor Day weekend. This rule prohibits the possession, use, or consumption of alcohol; loud, abusive, or disorderly conduct; or the presence of persons under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or non-prescription drugs in the area designated as the Ahu o Laka safety zone – also known as the Sandbar in Kaneohe Bay.

“The state continues to act to support public safety and respect for Ahu o Laka as a unique natural resource and cultural area,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson. “We have listened to the concerns of families and responsible boaters in striking a balance that applies needed rules and enforcement to three summer holiday weekends, which were historically the times when there were larger crowds, and when drinking and unruly behavior caused more disturbances.”

The rule establishes a rectangular safety zone in the middle of Kaneohe Bay that is just over a square mile in area, comprising the majority of the sandbar and defined by six marker buoys. Provisions of the rule are meant to protect the public while visiting Ahu o Laka on three designated holiday weekends in summer –Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, including any three-day weekend associated with these holidays.

The sandbar rule first took effect over the July 4, 2012, weekend and has a sunset provision in three years (August 2015) to allow the department time to monitor and evaluate its effectiveness and need for continuance or modification at that time.

The DLNR also reminds boaters of the following boating safety carriage requirements for recreational vessels: certificate of number (State registration), properly fitted life-jackets for everyone aboard, (passengers under the age of 13 must wear life jackets at all times while away from the dock), proper combination of visual distress signals, appropriate number and type of fire extinguishers, a sound producing device like a whistle, horn or bell appropriate for the vessel size, and navigation lights for night-time operation of for periods of limited visibility. For more information go to