Update: Owner of grounded commercial fishing sailboat illegally moored in Māʻalaea Bay
Editorʻs Note: This story has been updated at 9:40 a.m. on Friday with information from the Hawaiʻi Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.
During rainy weather sometime midday on Wednesday, a 46-foot commercial fishing sailboat called Ka Imi Kai broke loose from its anchor or mooring in Māʻalaea Bay and slowly drifted more than a 1/4-mile before grounding on Sugar Beach in Kīhei.
The boat is owned by Justin Moore, who was illegally mored in the bay. “He owes the state money so he hasn’t been able to obtain a permit,” according to an email from Dan Dennison, communications director of the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources.
State staff is working with Moore under state law regarding “Vessels aground.” Moore, who is responsible for removing the boat “immediately” at his expense, tried to pull the boat off the beach at high tide on Friday morning, but was not successful. He is expected to try again at the next high tide, around 6 p.m. on Friday, Dennison said.
On Thursday, the nearly 50-year-old ketch (a double-masted sailboat) remained grounded as tourists floated in the water 30 yards to the north and others walked the beach, many stopping to take pictures of the unusual sight.
“I watched the boat out on the horizon when it was moored, and then I noticed that it was here,” said Jackie Barrera, who moved to Maui three weeks ago from Alaska. “Iʻm worried about the boat and the owners. Iʻm worried the owners donʻt know. I hope they find out soon and come and rescue the boat.”
Vancouver resident Nick Percival, who was vacationing with his family, said he saw the boat on Wednesday when it was drifting toward shore.
“Some guy told me the anchor they had out there was not proper and it just snapped,” Percival said.
The boat appeared to be grounded in an area that was primarily sand with some rocks.
The Ka Imi Kai was built in 1975 and has an active registration, according to the US Coast Guard Maritime Information Exchange.
But its hull was encrusted with marine growth, and it appeared to not have been used recently.
On Thursday, the boat was listing about 45 degrees to its starboard side, with water going over the gunnel (upper edge of the boat’s side) in the 1- to 2-foot shore break.
A Facebook post from 2013 that said Ka Imi Kai was a commercial fishing vessel based in Honolulu that had fresh caught ahi for sale at $2.50 per pound at Pier 28.