Maui News

VIDEO: Maalaea Boats and Business Hit Bottom Friday

March 11, 2011, 10:07 PM HST
* Updated March 12, 10:01 AM
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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.

One of several boats that sank at Maalaea Harbor today during the tsunami event. Photo by Sonia Isotov.


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.”

Jaime Dancil, Manager, Maalaea Boat Club and boat repair service owner, was up all night and day coordinating evacuation and aftermath activities. Photo by Sonia Isotov.

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.”

David Ibara's boat the Kahu O Ke Kai won't be able to get in until the sunk Malolo, behind him, is pulled out. Photo by Sonia Isotov.

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.

Maalaea Harbor was very quiet Friday afternoon as no boats were allowed in or out of the harbor. The two-foot surge soon put the rocks, on the left, underwater, intermittently, throughout the day. On the right is the sunk Malolo. Photo by Sonia Isotov.

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