A couple of interesting blog posts recently by riders of this vessel. First, a European comments on the shallow draft not making sense for these waters and reducing the seakeeping nature of the vessel:
The SuperFerry. Three of us would not call it “super”
Posted in Hawaii by Ulf on December 17th, 2008
"After a rather eventful Sunday we took the Hawaii Superferry from Honolulu, Oahu, to Kahului, Maui, on Monday 24th. While the Superferry was highly disputed in Hawaii in the last years, it turned out to be helpful for the Maui residents. They can now take their pickup trucks to Oahu for shopping tours, especially after the “Aloha Airlines” went out of business. Some natives have a different opinion on this as tourism to Maui grows.
There are controversies about the environmental impact of these ships. I’m not worried about this, at least concerning a possible impact on the sea life. The Alakai just has a draft of 12ft. That is very little. Other ferries which I traveled with on the Baltic see have a draft between 20 and 23ft. Maybe some of the harbors on the Hawaiian islands are not deep enough for larger ships. So, why am I telling you about the draft of these ships? A small draft will make ships less stable..."
Here are my replies:
Re: “…it turned out to be helpful for the Maui residents. They can now take their pickup trucks to Oahu for shopping tours, especially after the 'Aloha Airlines' went out of business. Some natives have a different opinion on this as tourism to Maui grows.”
It has proven to be helpful to Oahu residents. The pickup truck users you notice are mostly Oahu construction workers going to Maui and returning. There are plenty of retailers on Maui as they would attest. We still have 3 major interisland airlines, Hawaiian, Go!, and now Mokulele, which offer better fares than HSF. We call them residents or locals or kama'aina. And tourism to Maui on all fronts is dramatically down in the year that HSF has been operating. HSF is not a significant contributor to the tourism industry in Hawaii even though it did get a disproportionate level of support from the Republican administration here.
Re: “There are controversies about the environmental impact of these ships. I’m not worried about this, at least concerning a possible impact on the sea life.”
Mechanically the ship has not yet been able to operate through the entire Humpback Whale season here. The waters that you rode through later on in the Winter become some of the most densely populated Humpback Whale waters in the world. In the Canary Islands these types of vessels kill whales on average every 2 months. It remains to be seen what the effect will be on marine mammals here. On land, destructive non-indigenous invasive species spreading from one island to another are a real problem. For example, mongoose, fire ants, varroa mites, and coqui frogs are not yet a problem on Kauai.
Re: “The Alakai just has a draft of 12ft…Maybe some of the harbors on the Hawaiian islands are not deep enough for larger ships.”
No, all of the harbors that HSF had planned to use are deep enough to take deeper draft commercial ships. The shallow draft of this vessel was not chosen for the need of these harbors and the principals overlooked that the shallow draft would make the seakeeping nature of the vessel less stable for acceptable commercial passenger comfort and profitability in windy and swell conditions a good portion of the year here. They and the DoD have also overlooked that the high cross beams between the cat hulls makes the vertical motion (a key MSI variable in determining motion sickness) that this vessel can go through substantially greater than other fast cat hulls that have lower cross beams or M hulls. The shallow draft design that you point out is intended for much grander purposes than the deeper draft accommodating harbors of Hawaii.
Re: “…I must admit that it was a bit like traveling in a glider while looking for lift winds. Perhaps irrational driving trains to stand these conditions?”
Check this out, it gets really interesting in the last 30 seconds: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSfoWWquSq8 and also http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g20Qho-JeRA.
The other recent blog post was from a passenger, Aaron, who noticed a weird question:
Flashback: Hawaii Superferry questionnaire 12 15 2008
"Back in September, I went to Hawaii for a week with my family, and we decided to go from Honolulu to Maui by ferry. It’s a slow trip compared to taking a flight, but worthwhile especially if you are traveling with kids.
As you approach the boarding lanes, a Hawaii Superferry employee goes through the standard procedure of checking your vehicle and asking you questions about what you are taking with you. Even though you are hopping from island to island in the same state, the procedure resembles crossing the border with a neighbouring country or boarding an international flight, which makes sense in today’s world, and also for environmental reasons. So both sides engaged in this somewhat flat but polite conversation that goes like this:
'Are you carrying any firearms or ammunition?' 'No.'
'Are you taking any domestic animals with you? Any livestock?' 'No on both accounts.'
'Do you have any flammable materials in your baggage?' 'No.'
'Any plants, seeds or soil?' 'Nope.'
'What about human bones?' 'No. Wait. What???'
I know that there must be a reason for the question, some historical precedent or technical legality justifying it. But I can’t help but wonder if anyone was ever caught in the process.
'Human bones? Hummm, let me see. Hey sweetheart, are those bones in your bag human?'"
And my reply:
Yeah, they seem like weird questions. Here is the Lingle inspired document that they came from: http://www.hawaiisenatemajority.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/superferry-governor-operation-conditions-11-2007.pdf
Actually, I thought more about your observation today and re-read the Governor’s E.O., and I think you have a good point that the company doesn’t need to ask all of those questions in the questionnaire in the manner that they are doing. Asking about bones and such seems very odd taken out of context, and people here would not be transporting bones anyway. It’s more like artifacts and opihi that they could ask about and that might be attempted to be smuggled. Not to mention excessive amounts of limited resources like reef fish, limu, maile, and mokihana that are allowed to be taken on the vessel.
In the case of the opihi, the Governor’s E.O. says they are not suppose to be transported on HSF, but there is no penalty for being caught with them, so why wouldn’t passengers attempt to smuggle them aboard when they can be sold on Oahu for an 'average price at local fish markets of roughly $30 per pound for shelled opihi.'
Anyway, fine points like this are an example of how the Governor’s E.O. and Act 2 were not well thought out and hastily written. Tomorrow we have a State Supreme Court case about all of this.
We'll see if the Hawaii State Supreme Court has the intellectual fortitude to set this all straight,