Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday's "Severe high seas?" and An Interesting Article

Was not even paying attention to the surf on Thursday and HSF's cancellation, until Larry mentioned it on his blog and it also showed up in PBN, apparently quoting HSF, reported, "Hawaii Superferry canceled its Oahu-Maui voyages Thursday due to severe high seas."

"Severe high seas?"

NOAA indicated winds were 22-27 knots and all of the sites indicated surf was no more than 15-18 feet high on the wave faces, NOAA actually reported it as 9 feet waves from the troughs to crests. As far as I know they ran in bigger surf than this last Friday. It's hard to understand how Thursday could have been called "severe high seas."

Also, of interest, coming out on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008, in Pacific Magazine:
"New Ferry Service Proposed For French Polynesia" (Tahitipresse)

"A New Caledonian businessman has applied for a license to operate an 800-passenger, 286-cabin super ferry on regular voyages from Papeete to the Leeward Islands of Huahine, Raiatea and Bora Bora.

The Inter-Island Maritime Navigation Advisory Committee is due to decide at the end of January on the license application from Bill Ravel, a businessman who is no stranger to Tahiti at the business level as well as the often politically related level.

His proposed super ferry would cost an estimated 3.3 billion French Pacific francs (US$37 million/€27.7m) and could also carry 70 motor vehicles on three weekly rotations out of Papeete, according to the dossier that Ravel submitted to authorities. Nearly half the investment would be tax exempt.

The 140-meter (459-ft) ferry would have three passenger classes and, if approved by the government, would begin serving the Raromatai destinations, as the Leeward Islands are often called, by the end of next year.

Ravel is even calling his proposed vessel the Raromatai Ferry, the same name as the passenger/motor vehicle ferry that Tahiti businessman Quito Braun-Ortega operated between Papeete and the Leeward Islands during the 1980s.

The Ravel dossier describes the proposed vessel as "respectable (in) size, fast and comfortable, offering cabin seats at an affordable price—a third of (the cost of) an airline ticket," meeting a real public need.

Ravel explained his three passenger classes in an interview published Saturday in French language daily newspaper La Dépêche de Tahiti (LDT), the first media organization to break the story.

First-class passengers would pay the same as Air Tahiti passengers using French Polynesia's biggest regularly scheduled domestic airline. Second-class passengers would pay 8,000 French Pacific francs (US$90/€67) for a one-way trip. Third-class passengers would pay 6,000 French Pacific francs (US$67/€50), or "have the plane fare," Ravel told LDT.

Under a headline "A Dream," the newspaper published a sidebar story Saturday describing an eventual trip from Papeete to Bora Bora aboard the Raromatai Ferry. The potential third-class passenger trip for a couple with two children under 12 years of age sharing the same air-conditioned cabin would cost 12,000 French Pacific francs (US$135/€101).

In effect, the two children would travel free, according to LDT. And for an additional 5,000 French Pacific francs (US$56/€42) they could take the family car with a limit of 500 kilos (1,102 pounds) of free luggage in the trunk.

The advisory committee postponed a decision on the dossier until late January because it had been considerably changed since it was first presented in mid-November.

The main change involved the choice of vessel. Originally, Ravel proposed using the SeaFrance Manet, which according to the Internet Web site Wikipedia, was built in 1984 as a passenger ferry, but has been used for freight services since 2006. SeaFrance is a ferry company based in France that operates ferry services between Calais and Dover, England.

By switching from the SeaFrance Manet concept to the building of a new passenger/car ferry, Ravel's proposal reduced the passenger capacity from more than 1,000-1,300 to 800, and reduced the speed to a more reasonable 16.5 knots, according to LDT. However, the car capacity was increased from 50 to 70.

Ravel told LDT, "The objective is 1,860,000 passengers per year, or 25 percent of the global traffic, planes included. He claimed "this would not affect Air Tahiti's volume of passengers because we would create our own clientele. "Presently there are 600,000 passengers," he said of the combined maritime-aviation market for trips from Papeete to the Leeward Islands..."

Aloha, Brad

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