DENNIS FUJIMOTO / THE GARDEN ISLAND VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
A state Department of Land and Natural Resources boat kept an eye on protesting surfers, swimmers and paddlers yesterday afternoon as the Hawaii Superferry sat outside the entrance to Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue, Kauai.
Protesters’ flotilla halts vessel off Nawiliwili
NAWILIWILI, Kauai » The Hawaii Superferry, a 3,600-ton vessel, was turned away from Kauai last night by about 50 protesters on surfboards, kayaks, and canoes.
The Superferry, which sat outside the harbor for three hours before turning back to Oahu, is scheduled to return to Kauai again today at 6 p.m.
"It was a safety issue," said Superferry Executive John Girabaldi. "We have a lot of customers who are very upset."
Coast Guard officials said that at 9 p.m., 20 protesters remained in the way of the ship to keep it from docking. Soon after, the ferry turned back.
While protesters claimed another successful night, so did the U.S. Coast Guard, which sent two boats from Honolulu, including the 110-foot Cutter Galveston Island, to help the situation.
"No one was hurt," said Lt. John Titchen, of the Coast Guard public affairs office. "That's the bottom line."
But it wasn't a complete success for the protesters. When the surfers, many of them juveniles, paddled back to shore under the full moon, Kauai Police Department officers, aided by officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, made arrests.
Seven people in total, including an undisclosed number of juveniles, were arrested. Of those seven, two were charged with criminal trespass, obstructing government operations, and disorderly conduct. Four others were charged with obstructing government operations and disorderly conduct, and one man was charged with one count of disorderly conduct.
One man, who said his nephew was one of those arrested, said the arrests of the kids would bring hundreds more to the dock today.
More than 200 people lined Jetty Road looking out into the harbor and cheered on the protesters in the water. Many said they are fed up with the rampant changes occurring all over Kauai.
Kaikea Elias, a 12-year-old Kauai surfer, was one of nearly a hundred people who have paddled out over the past few days to block the Superferry.
"I know they are breaking environmental law by coming here to our island and we want this craziness to stop," Elias said in an e-mail.
"It was scary to have guns pointed at me by the Coast Guard and threats of $30,000 fines just because I love my island the way it is," he added.
The Coast Guard said water-borne protesters may face stiff federal penalties for their actions Sunday and yesterday. Violators could face fines up to $30,000.
The Coast Guard has been taking photos and video of the protesters for the last few days, and will continue to do so as long as the protests go on.
"We will turn over any evidence (to the U.S. Attorney's Office) that shows people are violating the (100-foot) security zone" around the Superferry, said Titchen.
The Coast Guard will not, however, endanger any lives of those in the water or aboard the ship.
"We won't take risks" that may injure people, Titchen said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
BACK TO TOP
Idled passengers cite hypocrisy, irony
Daniel Scott, his wife, Heidi, and their five kids, waited at Pier 19 at Honolulu Harbor at 12:40 a.m. today for a cab to take them home to Kaneohe.
They had tried to take a quick, affordable, family vacation to Kauai via the Superferry because of the $5 one-way fares. He said he would not have been able to do it otherwise.
"We just thought it would be a neat opportunity for the kids," who range in age from 2 months to 9 years, he said. The family had booked a hotel on Kauai for the night and rented a car.
But protesters kept the ferry from docking in Kauai. Scott said the experience could have been horrible, except Superferry personnel gave them seven round-trip tickets, each worth $120, totaling $840.
Bridget Kaui and her two daughters, 26 and 23, and two grandkids, tried to make a day of it.
"It was kind of sad (referring to the protests), but on the ferry everything was good. We got sick, but we're ready to go again."
The ferry arrived at Kauai just before 6 p.m. but was prevented from docking by dozens of surfers and others in the water. After the first hour, they thought "not bad," but by the third hour, she wondered what was going on, Kaui said.
Her daughter Ashlyn Brown said when the decision was made to turn around, ferry officials gave a speech.
"Everybody was clapping," she said. "Everyone understood. There was no animosity toward the ferry personnel. We were a little upset at the protesters because of all the family trips they ruined," Brown said.
Hawaii Superferry officials estimated there were 475 passengers and 120 vehicles on board the catamaran last night. At 9 p.m. company officials gave up and headed back to Honolulu, arriving about 11:50 p.m.
Superferry personnel assisted passengers with overnight accommodations and taxis, depending on their situation.
Scott said he wondered "what the underlying reason is for the protest. I think it boils down to ignorance." He said he didn't see the difference between having a shipload of cars arriving, rather than cars being rented.
"I think it is silly," said Malia Medeiros, 24, of Hawaii Kai. "Right behind the protesters there was a huge cruise ship.
William Skadden, 25, of Hawaii Kai, who traveled with Medeiros, said, "Finally a service for local people, and they protest that. I think that Norwegian Cruise Lines got busted for dumping waste," and no one was protesting that.
Rebekah Kirwan of Waikiki traveled with her two daughters, 12 and 9.
"We knew about the protest yesterday, so it wasn't unexpected."
The overall mood on the ferry was positive, she said, and the passengers seemed united through their "shared adversity." The ship's captain came in person to talk to everyone, explaining in small groups what was happening, she said.
She felt bad for an older Kauai woman who had traveled to Oahu with her car and was unable to get home to Kauai.