Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Story in WSJ about Queen's Bath, Kauai?

I read in today's Wall Street Journal that, after the Ultimate Kauai Guide published directions to the Queen's bath at Princeville, 10 people have died going there and the State of Hawaii has now passed a law making book publishers liable if their suggestions cause injuries or deaths.

Here is what I don't get. I've been down to the Queen's bath area twice. The first time, it was pretty obvious the surf was too high to be safe, and I didn't take the shore path. The second time, the ocean was calm, and we walked over to the Queen's bath, which looked perfectly safe, and had several people in it. Some local kids were also in an inlet that looked much less safe.

So how does it happen that 10 people have been killed? Do they not get it that you should stay away if the surf is crashing over the path?

Also, has such a law actually passed, or is it just in the works?

Answer on Story in WSJ about Queen's Bath, Kauai?

I can't readily find the info, but I believe the Hawaii legislation was simply proposed and then fizzled out -- I remember thinking it was a resolved matter from some months ago, and it surprises me the Wall Street Journal is writing about it now.

Anyway, a lot of people have blissful images of Hawaii as "paradise" which means they can't get hurt, or it's magical or something. And they're used to being coddled at places like Disneyland, and even the national parks on the mainland where there are handrails and warning signs and park rangers every time you turn around. Hawaii doesn't do that. It can't. Even if it didn't care about spoiling the beauty of the place, you'd have umpteen different warning signs at every single beach, and they'd be constantly changing.

Soooo, I don't know that it's people ignoring enormous surf, but people do readily slip on rocks, or get trapped in areas when the tide changes, etc. There's a pretty high number of drownings every year in Hawaii, including tourists, and many are even just "normal" in how they come about. People are too used to lifeguards and swimming pools and handrails and posted signs.

It's about 10 people who've drowned at the site in almost 20 years now. And I don't know that they've directly blamed the book in any of them. Stuff happens. An unusual wave comes through, somebody panics in the water thinking they see a shark and then hit their head, they get dehydrated and get too weak to come back in, etc.