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Hawaiians Sink Superferry

(AP Photo/Marco Garcia)
Does anybody out there happen to need a $95 million ferry boat? Because it looks like the Alakai, the brand-new vessel that was recently launched by Hawaii SuperFerry, might soon be available for a very nice price. Last Monday, when the much-publicized new ship attempted its inaugural run from Oahu to Kauai – the first-ever inter-island passenger and car-ferry service – protestors on surfboards and kayaks managed to block its access to Kauai's Nawiliwili harbor (which as many island travelers know is home to a Marriott resort and the sublime Duke's Canoe Club restaurant). The Coast Guard was unable to clear the path, and after several hours of waiting at the mouth of the harbor, the ship returned to Honolulu.


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Then when the company planned to launch its first service to Maui later last week, more protestors raised sufficient concerns that a court ordered the service halted "pending environmental review." Huh? Did anybody consider the environmental impact of a 350-foot ferry boat before building it and sailing it all the way to the islands? The company, which so far has invested $300 million in the venture, is now waiting for the air to clear, and has suspended service indefinitely. I could be wrong, but anybody who has ever run afoul of local Hawaiian politics knows that it might take a very long time for the environment to clear up, vis-à-vis the Alakai.

Sounds, frankly, like the climate for new ferries is not very good these days. Remember the much-publicized ferry on Lake Ontario between Rochester, New York and Toronto? It ran for 80 days in 2004 before going broke, leaving the city of Rochester and its Canadian partner holding the bag for millions of dollars of debt and investment.
All things considered, I guess I'll wait for the bus. And as I do, a song drifts through my head: "Aloha oe, aloha oe…until we meet again."

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