Maui News

Helicopter defuels luxury yacht grounded at Honolua as some critique state’s response

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The U.S. Coast Guard with the help of a private contractor removed several barrels of diesel Thursday from a 94-foot-long luxury yacht that ran aground Monday in Honolua Bay and began leaking fuel in the marine life conservation district.

Meanwhile, Mauians took to social media to decry the state’s alleged lack of mooring rule enforcement that could have prevented the incident and to critique the slow response time from state and federal officials that worsened the situation.

“There is no sense of urgency with our state,” Maui native Paele Kulani of Lahaina said on social media. “You have to go through all this red tape just to have somebody go out there to help them get the boat off the reef. The catastrophe that you could have prevented trumps everything else.”


Batteries and hydraulic fluid will be removed next and work will continue today, according to Save Honolua Coalition, which is operated by Maui County Council Member Tamara Paltin, whose residency seat covers West Maui, and John Carty. The coalition for years has advocated to protect the bay.

“Its going slower than they thought but they are being careful and it is going well,” the coalition said Thursday.

The grounded vessel’s location on the rocks below a cliff requires the use of a helicopter to lift barrels of fuel from the boat, over the dirt road and onto land where it can be transported offsite, officials said Wednesday.


The work will result in the temporary closure of the dirt road near Līpoa Point off Honoapi‘ilani Highway.  The closure went into effect Thursday and is being carried out by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources in collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard, and Maui Police Department.

DLNR on Thursday said the area remains closed and it will send out a news release when it is reopened.

Nakoa was grounded on Monday outside the Honolua-Mokulē‘ia Bay Marine Life Conservation District. Although the area has day-use moorings with a time limit of two hours, the boat’s owner told media that he didn’t know the rules and stayed overnight with his family when one of the lines snapped and the boat hit the rocks.


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