Grounded catamaran is removed

A Pacific Whale Foundation catamaran was removed Wednesday morning from the shoreline near McGregor Point after striking rocks early Tuesday morning, a U.S. Coast Guard official said.

The multihulled Ocean Odyssey was towed from the rocky shoreline at approximately 8:30 a.m. by a salvage vessel using buoyant tow ropes, said Lt. Eric Stahl of the U.S. Coast Guard. The boat was moved to Maalaea Harbor around 2 p.m. where Coast Guard personnel and officials from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources surveyed the vessel for damages.

The 64-foot passenger vessel had been headed to Honolulu for maintenance. It first departed Maalaea Harbor around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Four crew members were aboard during the grounding. They were evacuated uninjured.

The vessel “struck a rocky area on its starboard bow and washed up to shore” with a 3-foot gash to its port hull and beneath its waterline, Stahl said. He added that the ship had seeped water, and that damage was “sufficient enough” to order it to be docked overnight at the harbor for repairs.

“They’re hoping to leave by tomorrow . . .because (Maalaea Harbor) is a public use dock for other charters,” he said. “I do believe they’ll finish repairs tonight (Wednesdsay), but we’ll revisit the ship to determine if it will be safe enough for them to make the trip to Oahu.”

Anne Rillero, the foundation’s communication manager, said the cost of damages remained unclear, but “I do know we’re cooperating with the Coast Guard and certainly our insurance company.”

Over the next couple days, the DLNR will be conducting dive surveys near the grounding, and it could possibly fine the foundation if aquatic life has been compromised.

“It definitely collided with a rocky area there,” Stahl said. “I don’t know if there were any coral structures damaged but the DAR (Division of Aquatic Resources) is still doing the survey.”

Stahl said there are no rules as to how far ships can be from the shoreline, but that Ocean Odyssey was “unusually close to shore” at the time of the incident, considering its early-morning departure with limited visibility.

“We rely on the licensed mariners to determine safe distances from shore,” he said. “That’s the reason why we keep our charts updated and issue local notices about any changes.

“We require people to maintain sufficient speed and distance between boats and shorelines.”

Rillero said all of the foundation’s captains are fully licensed, and officials are “working to understand what happened.”

“We were in contact with all of the authorities, and our goal was to correct the situation as quickly as possible,” she said. “Within 26 hours, we got the vessel removed from the area, and we worked very closely with the DAR and Coast Guard to make sure they were consulted and approved our plan of action.”

As a Coast Guard-inspected vessel, the Ocean Odyssey is required to undergo a biennial dry docking inspection – or an inspection of exterior and interior structures, as well as mechanical functions, Stahl said. Maui County does not have a dry docking station, so vessels need to travel to Oahu or the Big Island for inspections.

“Think of it as a safety inspection for your car,” he said.

Vessels typically depart for dry docking inspections on Oahu around 4:30 a.m., and Stahl said he believes crews will be working throughout the night.

“It’s going to be a long day for them,” he said.

Maui Dry Dock & Boat Storage is seeking a 55-year lease on 1.2 acres of state land adjacent to the Kahului Boat Ramp to develop a full-service marine vessel maintenance and storage facility. It would enable operators in Maui’s tour boating industry to have dry dock inspections of large boats conducted on the island.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@maui