Thank you for your very well-done article on the Queens Bath fence. (December 22 issue).
A special thank you to Rory Enright and the Princeville Community Association (PCA). It takes courage as well as money to put up the fence. From my experience in the water safety industry, if we can call it that, I know that there are attorneys who will give you the opinion that you are more protected from liability if you do nothing than if you do something. Because, once you do something, you are presenting and exposing yourself as a potential “deep pocket” who can be named in a wrongful death lawsuit. You can be accused of recognizing there’s a hazard but not doing enough about it. Whereas if you do nothing, you can slink around the fringes and — if you are named in a lawsuit — you can put up all sorts of denials. After all, the Queens Bath ledge isn’t PCA property. Nor is the trail heading down to the ledge PCA property. Etc.
The parking area is associated with the PCA, although I have no idea who is the actual owner of that area from a surveyor’s standpoint. And for the PCA to grab this area by the throat and try and make a difference is quite remarkable. Their action is a perfect Holiday Season expression of how we can take on being our brother’s and our sister’s keeper. Furthermore, their working with the County to try and operate the gate in a meaningful way is also very commendable (both the PCA and the County), even though I myself would be perfectly happy to see that gate locked 365 days/year.
Until tourism exploded, Queens Bath was known only to a very select number of local ulua fisherman. Probably a couple of dozen total. I know many many local people who have lived on Kauai for 70 or 80 years and who don’t have a clue how to get there.
Adventuresome visitors and guide books and social media changed all that and now hundreds of people flock there every day. Yes, the area is exotic and mind boggling and beautiful. Some call it a gem.
But, it’s no place for anyone other than a highly skilled ocean person, one who is tightly tuned into the weather and the swells and who clearly knows when NOT to be there.
Guidebooks have, to their credit, tried to back-step on promoting the area, but sadly with social media in play, the cat is too far out of the bag and we are stuck with the current situation. Stuck except for the fact that Rory has taken it on his broad shoulders to try and make a difference.
A shout out also belongs to Jenna Crisler, who religiously maintains our 4 public rescue stations along the Queens Bath ledge. Although these aren’t helpful when monster waves are exploding on the ledge, they have proven to be life-saving in a number of critical situations.
Also a tip of the hat to our Lifeguards, Firefighters, and Coast Guard personnel who put themselves in harms way as they perform search and rescue operations for people who get swept off the ledge and out to sea.
But mostly this letter is a “thank you Rory.”
Your effort will be rewarded with lives saved, even though chances are you won’t ever hear about them and you’ll only hear about lives lost should this occur again at Queens Bath. But we on Kauai as well as the saved peoples’ guardian angels know the truth, namely that you, sir, stepped forward to help.
Best Wishes to all for a safe and mostly Happy Happy upcoming new year.
Dr. Monty Downs is an E.R. physician at Wilcox Memorial Hospital.