By Sonia Isotov
Boats and business hit bottom early Friday morning when the tsunami hit Maui’s Maalaea Boat Harbor.
At approximately 5 am, the full force of the tsunami was felt at Maalaea Harbor as water drained out of the harbor leaving the remaining boats to sink to the bottom. Water was reported to have reached as far as underneath Buzz’s Wharf and strong waves collapsed portions of the surrounding breakwall.
Several owners were on their boats today to survey the damage and some to tie up their boats and prepare for the surge that continued throughout the day.
As many as 3 boats were reported sunk including the Malolo, the Mahana Naia, and a catamaran. A trimaran was also reportedly flipped over. Watch the video to learn how Burt Olivera saved his boat despite reportedly being left by the Coast Guard.
Longtime harbor resident and bottom fisherman, David Ibara could not bring his boat back into Maalaea Harbor even if the authorities were to open the harbor. ”I can’t come in because the Malolo is sitting in the middle of our slip and we won’t be able to operate until its gone, said Ibara. When asked about how long he expects to be out of commission, he said, “it could be as long as a week or even two.”
Jaime Dancil, Manager, Maalea Boat Club, and 27 years owners of the only Maalaea boat repair business, explains in the video just what happened when the harbor drained last night. “All the boats hit bottom,” explains Dancil. “And another wave came over the breakway in front and blew out the dock boxes and all the electrical power.”
About 40 main tour operators started leaving Maalaea Harbor for open waters as early as 10 pm last night when the state Department of Land and Natural Resources as well as Maui County Police began evacuation. “DLNR and police were very helpful and handled everything well,” said Jaime Dancil,”most of the boats were out by 1 am or so, but many boats remained.”
A two foot surge continued throughout the day and afternoon in 30 minute intervals and the news of more earthquakes in Japan worried many Harbor residents that the surge would continue for days to come. Owners were seen securing their boats, and could be seen pulling wrecked dock boxes back to their original positions.
Authorities were still not allowing boats to go in or out of the Maalaea Harbor as of late this afternoon.