How does a boat like this end up on the reef inside a famous surf spot?
This story hits home and making news across all watersport networks as our beloved Honolua Bay is threatened by environmental damage by the negligence of a luxury charter company.
It was about 7am Monday morning when I drove past Kapalua and saw some emergency lights up at Honolua Bay. I did not think much of it and went to work. Shortly after, the entire west side of Maui was in disarray, in fact the entire water sports community could not believe what had happened in the early morning hours.
A luxury yacht like we mostly know from out of state has ran aground at Honolua Bay pretty much right where mostly the kids go surfing. The pictures on social media looked surreal and I had to go investigate myself.
I took a hike down the the trail where we always go to surf and this beautiful Sunseeker 94 was sitting just a few arms length from the rocks. How could this be? How do you own a boat like this and manage to get it on the rocks, let alone at Honolua Bay one of the most famous and culturally significant bays in Hawaii.
People on the boat explain
The boat belongs to a newly arrived yacht charter business, Noelani Yacht Charters which owns multiple boats like this on Maui and Oahu. The entry level package is $9802.- so it is for the ultra wealthy and the owner must not be a poor man either. A Sunseeker like this sells in the neighborhood of 1.8 – 5 million depending how old it is.
As I am standing on the rocks in disbelief, as a man appears on deck and asks me how I am doing. I responded that I must be doing better than him right now. He appeared to be the owner or captain. He was quite chatty and explained to me, that they were in the engine room around 5.30am to do a check before leaving the spot. They did not notice the mooring line had snapped and they had drifted into the rocks. Once they noticed they were half way aground and tried to free the boat but the wind kept pushing the boat more into the rocks and reef. The person on the boat even showed me the snapped mooring line and said it must have happened where the line was attached to the mooring ball.
At this time a salvage effort had just has unsuccessfully ended, but the person on the boat was pretty confident that the tide was high enough at night to get the boat off.
I asked about the fuel and the safety of the hull. The guy said its a 3 inch fiberglass hull and the fuel tank is well secured. I wished him good luck and left.
Situation got worse over night
Evidently the confidence of the guy on the boat must have been shattered the next morning. The boat was now laying sideways on the rocks getting hit by the small waves.
Now with the boat on its side constantly rocking, this has led to further damage and the hydraulic fuel and diesel has started to leak. Our community is outraged right now and in disbelief as to how this could have happened.
Questions about the salvage operation and the owners common sense
With a boat like this sitting in shallow water, it is more than questionable if it can be pulled back into the ocean. Of course it is physically possible, but the damage to the boats hull would be very severe and it would take on water right away. Not to speak of the debris and damage to the reef and delicate ecosystem. People are talking about inflatable balloons underneath the boat, we would love to see this technology in action sooner rather than later. We have our doubts about if it would even work with the depth of the water it is sitting in.
Interesting video, this boat got pulled off the rocks by a tug boat then barely floats:
The latest info I got was from two officers who were sitting in their car on the road above waiting for a crew to arrive to pump out the fuel. They were very friendly and told me that now the boat is under the jurisdiction of the coast guard. There will be a removal of all hazardous material on the vessel before the lsalvage process begins.
Getting this boat off the rocks should have the highest priority as we are in the midst of winter surf season and it is a miracle right now we are going through a bit of a flat spell. Once the waves are back up, this will be very bad news for the boat and the salvage operation.
Lack of common sense on the owners part
Most people on Maui know a bit about boating and even with the slightest common of sense one should know not to tie a boat with more than 100 GRT to a mooring used by snorkel boats. The broken line the guy on the boat showed me was clearly not made for big boats. All GPS systems nowadays come with an anchor alarm, but the person on the boat had no knowledge of such a feature and drifted unknowingly into the rocks while looking at the engines. Later they stated on TV that they will be looking into getting such a system.
Boats this size do not belong in Honolua Bay and operators of tour boats who are just getting to Hawaii should do their due diligence before operating in unfamiliar waters.
As far as we are concerned this company is done doing business around the waters of West Maui.