Vessel haul out planned in Kahului

Maui Dry Dock & Boat Storage, a consortium of five commercial boat operators, is seeking a 55-year lease on about 1.2 acres of state land adjacent to the Kahului Boat Ramp to develop a vessel haul out, trailer storage and other facilities.

The proposal is set to come before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday for an approval in principle of the direct lease of the land for general commercial maritime services. A staff report to the board says the applicant acknowledges its use of the site “could have significant adverse impact” and require an environmental assessment.

Maui Dry Dock & Boat Storage’s use of the site also would require approval of the county departments of Public Works and Planning, the staff report says.

It describes the state property as unoccupied land next to Kahului Harbor that was once submerged but was reclaimed decades ago when the harbor was dredged. The property is next to the boat launching ramp, a boat/trailer wash-down area and parking.

The consortium proposes to improve the leased area to provide a secure area for the short-term maintenance of vessels and longer-term vessel storage, the staff report says.

The consortium plans to improve the area in phases, the report says, with the first phase involving a “significant investment in equipment but minimal initial site improvements.”

Initial equipment expenses include the cost of a custom-built trailer designed specifically to accommodate multihull vessels up to 65 feet long and a semi-truck or front-end loader of appropriate size.

Now under construction, the trailer will cost more than $150,000, the report says. The tow vehicle required to pull the loaded trailer from the boat ramp and position it on-site will cost at least $50,000. The consortium plans to acquire a portable generator to power the tools needed to maintain vessels. Also, plans call for building perimeter fencing, wind screening and dust containment.

Initially, the consortium will protect the existing ground surface of compacted crushed coral and gravel, the report says. Mid- to longer-term options include the laying of a bed of decomposed gravel or high-strength concrete deck.

The assessment of possible environmental impacts and permitting by Maui County is expected to add another $50,000 to the project’s first-phase expenses, which could reach $500,000 overall, the staff report says.

It estimates that the consortium would need at least 10 years to recoup its capital investment through fees and charges assessed to users of the facility.

“The site is ideally situated to be a full-service marine vessel maintenance and storage facility capable of serving the entire boating community on Maui and neighboring islands,” the report says.

It adds that during the initial phases of development the consortium will determine the need for additional facilities and more permanent improvements at the site.

“The full extent of these improvements will depend on public demand and the availability of capital, and likely will evolve over time,” the report says.

Although there is a vessel haul-out facility at the Maalaea Small Boat Harbor, its small size doesn’t make it feasible for use by larger boats, such as the 50- to 65-foot catamarans that are used for Maui’s tour boating industry, according to the report.

Regarding the limitations at Maalaea, the staff report says: “The vessel beam, depth are limiting factors and, for vessels the size operated by applicant’s members, options are nonexistent on Maui.”

On Wednesday, one of Trilogy Excursions’ catamarans was hauled out at the Kahului Boat Ramp for maintenance work, and Trilogy co-owner James Coon said there’s a real need for a facility to haul out such vessels for work required by both operators and the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard requires tour boats to be hauled out and inspected every 18 months or so, Coon said.

The Maalaea facility is too small and facilities on Oahu and the Big Island are too far and require rough interisland channel crossings, he said.

Trilogy, which employs 60 people and operates several catamarans in Maui County waters, is one of the five commercial boat operators involved in the consortium, Coon said.

The catamaran hauled out Wednesday for maintenance will be on dry land for two to 10 days, he said.

Coon owns Trilogy Excursions with his brother, Randy. This year, they are celebrating 40 years of being in business.

* Brian Perry can be reached at