Saturday, November 17, 2007

Musings: Rough Sailing?

Woke up sleepy this morning and slipped in a short walk between rain showers. As the days grow shorter, and cloudier, I’m not so inclined to spring up before dawn. But the taro and I like this wet weather, and it saves me time not having to water.

Hawaii Superferry, as expected, wasted no time in announcing plans to resume service — at least to Maui. The Associated Press is reporting the ferry will sail for the Valley Island beginning Dec. 1, with $29 inaugural one-way fares for passengers and rates of $55 for cars and $35 for motorcycles, scooters and mo-peds.

Meanwhile, the ferry’s website has posted this statement regarding service to the Garden Island:

“A date for commencing service to and from Kaua‘i has not yet been determined. We are working with the community on Kaua‘i and listening to their concerns. We will make our decision about when we commence our Kaua‘i service once that process is completed.”

The statement prompted John Tyler of, who yesterday posted a piece by OHA trustee Moanikeala Akaka on “Hawaii’s Superferry Folly,” to send out an email inquiring who on Kauai had been contacted by Superferry, “or is that once again PR bullshit?”

That’s a very good question, and so far I haven’t heard of anyone being asked to sit down and work on solutions with Superferry. I’m curious to know whom they would approach for such a process, and how it would play out.

Tyler’s email goes on to state: “Why Maui and not Kaua'i?....More is going on here than meets the eye. Closely watch the divide and conquer strategy unfold, and be ready to get more creative back...”

While I agree the divide and conquer strategy is a legitimate concern, and question the company’s sincerity to patch things up with Kauai, I think the bottom line in their decision is, well, the bottom line. Hawaii Superferry previously made the comment that Maui is the lucrative market crucial to its economic success. Plus I’m pretty sure Superferry isn’t anxious to mar its re-launch by mixing it up with irate citizens on Kauai.

The question now is whether Maui folks will finally take to the streets, or rather, the harbor, after winning in the courts, then getting shut down by the Legislature.

Larry Geller of Disappeared News also offers an interesting perspective on the possible impacts of the low fares and starting service to Maui first.

Meanwhile, I had a report from a very knowledgeable source that the ferry was experiencing trouble with its engines. Apparently this has been a problem with such ferries elsewhere, as running at super-speed strains even those super engines.

Mahalo to those who posted comments advising us about the rough conditions in Kahului Harbor. Others have recounted that people were getting sick and car alarms were going off when the boat was barely out of Honolulu during the calm seas of summer.

Mother Nature, with her storms and swells, may yet play the final card in this high-stakes game.


Larry said...

Aha.. engine trouble. I was wondering, after reading about the engine issues involved in the Rochester-Ontario ferry failure, if the same might happen here. I believe the engines are the same or almost the same.

In the midst of the ferry battle, although I had a dozen more important things to do, I couldn't help googling around to learn more on the Superferry. I ran across engine issues which you can find here:

Anonymous said...

The Coast Guard's resources may be the reason for the delayed service to Kauai. The SF and the "Unified Command" may want to see what SF opponents do at Kahului Harbor and "clean up" that situation before moving on to Kauai.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Lingle's outreach efforts, did you see the seemingly unrelated story about the West Hawaii (Kona) Campus in TGI last weekend. I can't remember which day it appeared nor can I find it on their website, but here is the AP story appearning somewhere else:

I love this quote: "[Lingle] has said she wants to make sure West Hawaii residents are satisfied with the plans offered up by the university's Board of Regents. Lingle also has urged residents to make sure their vision of higher education matches what the regents are planning."

Seems like the governor seeks public participation when it suits her. And I would guess she doesn't control the BoR like she does the Transportation Dept.