Hawaii’s Hostile Waters: Boaters Nearly Run Over Diver

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BY CHASE AKASAKI – Over the past few years, it has come to my attention that some boaters have forgotten that there are others in the water. There have been many close calls and even several fatal incidents where divers have died from getting hit by boats.

By law, every diver must be equipped with a floatation device that displays the diver down flag. Boats and other watercraft vehicles are supposed to stay 100 feet away from the flag. However, that is not always the case. This past Friday on March 2, 2012, I experienced first hand how reckless some boaters may be.


My friend and I went spearfishing outside of the fourth lagoon at the Ko Olina Resort on the West side of Oahu. We each had our own lifeguard float and flag.

Somewhere during the dive, I came across a spot that had a decent pile of fish. It was approximately ¾ of a mile offshore in about 30 feet of water. I anchored my float to the reef and started to descend to the bottom.

As I was ascending back to the surface, I could hear a boat propeller. I started to look around underwater for the source of the noise. As soon as I broke the surface, a charter fishing boat was about two feet in front of me. At that moment, the boat was moving at a relatively fast speed. I instinctively placed my hands and feet on the starboard side of the boat and pushed away to avoid the propeller.

As the boat was passing me, the boat went over my tagline, which connects my anchor to my float. I ducked my head under water to see my float getting towed away by the boat. The boat was about 150 yards away from me until my float separated from the boat.

By then, three males went to the back of the boat and blatantly stared at me while I was trying to process what had just happened. The boat continued to go in the same path without turning around to render aid.

After the boat had gone a considerable distance ahead, I swam over to my float to find less than a foot of line left of my 75-foot tagline. The propeller severed off whatever was left of my tagline. I swam over to my partner and he said he saw the boat, but was unable to identify it.

Personally, I feel that this issue is taken very lightly. We as divers shouldn’t have to wait for another person to get hurt in order for people to take this issue seriously. I hope that in the near future, the public can become more aware of this issue we are having with boats.

This does not only concern the safety of divers, but anyone who frequents these coastal waters.

Seeing how we live on an island surrounded by water, I find that this issue concerns a lot of people. My intent is that everyone should feel free of harm from boaters and other watercraft vehicles when entering the water.





  1. Thanks for your story. I live and sometimes dive in the waters around Laie. There is one careless motorized boater who ventures out on the rare occasions that the waters are calm enough for a flat bottomed boat to not capsize. He usually has his kids along, which means his focus is not on who might be swimming or diving nearby. Fortunately, no one has been injured – yet.

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