Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Lawrence Mudd’s body was found Mar. 6 in the waters off Pyramid Rock near Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, as a result of a boating accident.
In the wake of this tragedy, MCBH officials are urging service members and their families to educate themselves before enjoying Oahu’s beaches.
“These beaches are different from any on the island or the mainland,” said Kari Hemund, manager for MCBH Aquatics. “Shore breaks, wave heights, currents; these are just a few underwater hazards found along our beaches. Pay attention to advisories and know the surrounding waters.”
Though she was referring to the beaches located near K-Bay, such hazards are present all around the Hawaiian Islands. For those who are unprepared, a day of “fun in the sun” can quickly turn to tragedy.
“We’ve been blessed that it’s been 11 years between our last death and this one,” Hemund said. “But our life guards perform rescues on a regular basis. Beaches are hazardous uncontrolled environments. If you’re not prepared for them it could cost you your life.”
Officials with MCBH offer a variety of services to help prepare service members and their families for recreational activities in the water. K-Bay Aquatics offers safety briefs to any unit that asks.
During the brief, Hemund and her staff cover the basics of water safety, such as using flotation devices, speaking to a lifeguard before entering the water, and heeding the water advisories and signs posted along the beaches.
Those who are interested in boating have numerous additional considerations before heading out into the water.
Officials at the K-Bay Marina offer the Boating Safety Class, which is a requirement for renting any vessel from the marina.
Those who own a vessel should have a checklist of emergency supplies prior to leaving dry land; working radios, flares, water and Coast Guard approved personnel flotation devices, which is required by law. But most importantly consider bringing a companion.
“Take a buddy,” she said. “If you’re boating with another person, they’ll be able to help you out if you’re injured. Going into the water on your own is extremely dangerous, especially in Hawaii.”
An additional precaution is establishing a float plan and giving it to the officer of the day prior to leaving dry land.
At a minimum a float plan should contain time/ place of departure, what they’ll be doing while at sea and time/ place of return, Hemund said.
Unit leaders interested in arranging a water safety brief can contact Hemund at (808) 254-7655.
For weather advisories contact Water Front Operations at (808) 257-2941.
Interested boaters can contact the K-Bay Marina at (808) 254-7667 and can take the Boating Safety Class online at www.boatus.org.