1/25/24 – WEATHER CHALLENGES AND NEW INFORMATION HAMPERING GROUNDED BOAT REMOVALSPosted on Jan 26, 2024 in Boating & Ocean Recreations, Main, News Releases, slider
|JOSH GREEN, M.D.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 25, 2024
WEATHER CHALLENGES AND NEW INFORMATION HAMPERING GROUNDED BOAT REMOVALS
(KIHEI, MAUI) – Foul weather may have contributed to the grounding of two large vessels at Kihei and Mā’alaea, and now weather continues to slow efforts to remove them.
A former Navy torpedo boat, Chaparral, broke loose from its mooring and ended up on the shoreline immediately next to a condominium building in North Kihei. For the U.S. Coast Guard to clean up fuel and other hazardous items like batteries, a contractor had to cut through the vessel’s decking to reach the hull which had numerous holes.
Ed Underwood, DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation Administrator (DOBOR), explained, “Those holes had to be sealed to pump out fuel, oil, and other liquids. During this process, more holes may have occurred, so we’re not sure about the state of the hull at this moment.”
This morning DOBOR learned of “changed circumstances,” with the Chaparral. Though the division had already contracted a salvage company, they learned that there may be hazardous materials left on the boat which will require the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) to ensure nothing escapes into the environment or the ocean.
Today, DOBOR issued a new request for bids, under emergency procurement rules, to five Hawai‘i-based salvage contractors and hopes to select one by the end of the day to continue work.
Underwood says cutting the boat up in place is the best available option to get the boat off the beach. “We have looked at either removing the boat by sea, which will require the boat to be patched as best we can. It would have to be towed over a shallow reef, and then ultimately to O‘ahu. We don’t know whether the boat will even make it. We feel it’s better to dispose of it in place,” he said.
Outside the Mā’alaea Small Boat Harbor, the Expeditions Lana‘i Ferry grounded early Monday morning, after its captain apparently missed channel markers.
DOBOR Assistant Administrator Meghan Statts said, “Right now it’s physically sitting just on a reef, but we’re not quite sure whether it’s coral or rubble. We are having a DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) biologist, when the weather dies down, go out to assess the area just to make sure that it’s not sitting on coral.”
The boat’s owner has already hired a contractor from O‘ahu, and weather permitting, a salvage of the boat is expected to happen Saturday morning.
Boat owners utilizing any state small boat harbors are required to have insurance, but some don’t. When owners walk away, as is apparently the case with the grounding of the Chaparral, salvage costs are covered by the DOBOR boating special fund.
Underwood said, “The boating fund is all the user fees people pay – mooring fees and commercial use fees. The bids we received to attempt to tow the Chaparral to O‘ahu were around a million dollars plus. The earlier bids, to cut it up in place, ranged between $149,000 and $600,000.” Underwood added that the boating special fund doesn’t even have a million-dollar balance and this one boat would wipe out the program for at least the next two to three months.
DLNR Chair Dawn Chang added, “We do understand that members of the community don’t want it disposed of there because it’s adjacent to a beach park that’s heavily used by canoe paddlers and others. However, dragging this boat over a shallow reef could be much more detrimental to our natural resources. Or it could sink. There are too many variables trying to tow it versus cutting it in place.” She said boat owners need to assume responsibility for their vessels and the damage they can cause, and be mindful that when they walk away, they are negatively impacting their fellow boaters.
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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)
HD video – Maui boat groundings (Jan. 24-25, 2024):
Photographs – Expeditions ferry grounding (Jan. 25,2024): https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/fi8cz70w5wx93cht3hnt9/h?rlkey=84po52uso620gkhc8bw2onfc1&dl=0
Photographs – Chaparral grounding (Jan. 25, 2024):