HAWAII SUPERFERRY STUCK
GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jim Nash and Sid Peacock got ready yesterday to drive into the Hawaii Superferry's shipping lot on Maui. The Superferry has advised passengers on the Valley Isle to drop off their vehicles in the lot for transport on Friday.
Court act strands Maui riders
Passengers enjoy the low fares but still feel inconvenienced
KAHULUI » Passengers returning to drop off their vehicles at the Hawaii Superferry's shipping lot on Maui said they felt inconvenienced and a bit confused getting back to Oahu in light of a court order halting the interisland service at Kahului Harbor.
But some said they were grateful for the $5 introductory fare earlier this week that enabled them to make the trip to the Valley Isle.
"Right now, I'm happy to be on Maui," said Buddy Allison, a Kapolei resident.
A temporary restraining order issued by Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza Monday halted operation of the Superferry on Maui through Sept. 6, although the interisland service plans to continue operation between Oahu and Kauai.
Yesterday's Kauai trip was canceled at the behest of Gov. Linda Lingle, who cited public safety. On Sunday and Monday, protesters went to the water at Nawiliwili Harbor to block the vessel from docking at Kauai. On Monday, the vessel turned around and came back to Oahu.
Cardoza is scheduled to hold a hearing at 1:30 p.m. today on a request by some Maui groups to issue a preliminary injunction, halting further operation on Maui until the state completes an environmental assessment about the Superferry's impact at Kahului Harbor.
Meanwhile, Cardoza has ordered the Superferry to offer to return its customers to their home port or port of origin.
Allison, who came to Maui on the Superferry Monday, said the $5-per-person fare enabled him and his three children to visit the Valley Isle.
Allison said his family had planned to return to Oahu today, but the court order forced the Superferry to adjust its schedule.
He said he brought his vehicle to the harbor lot yesterday with the understanding that the Superferry would transport it to Oahu on Friday.
He said he was checking with company officials to see if his family would be able to return on the Superferry with the vehicle.
Allison said Superferry officials had offered to pay for airline tickets to Oahu and hotel accommodations from Wednesday through Friday.
Charley Bright, a Kaneohe resident, said he has to help a friend on Oahu whose daughter is getting married.
Bright said since his truck will be on Maui, he'll have to rent a truck to help his friend.
Jim Nash, an Oahu resident traveling with his girlfriend, Sid Peacock, said he was disappointed by the way some residents were protesting against the Superferry on Kauai.
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Superferry trips to Kauai on hold
Ship's executive and Lingle cite safety concerns
The Hawaii Superferry indefinitely canceled daily trips from Honolulu to Kauai yesterday at the request of Gov. Linda Lingle, who says she's worried about public safety.
The decision to cancel yesterday's 3 p.m. trip came early this afternoon, hours after Superferry officials released a statement saying they planned to run the trip as planned.
Hawaii Superferry officials issued a statement saying, "At 1:00 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard informed Hawaii Superferry that, contrary to previous assurances, it can no longer guarantee a safe passage for the Alakai and its passengers into and out of Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. Hawaii Superferry will suspend service until the U.S. Coast Guard notifies management it is safe to use the harbor facilities at Nawiliwili."
On Monday, about 50 people on surfboards and in small boats stopped the Superferry from docking at Nawiliwili. The Superferry arrived at Kauai about 6 p.m. and waited three hours outside the harbor as the Coast Guard and state enforcement officials tried to clear the protesters from the water. About 9 p.m., the Superferry turned around and headed back to Honolulu.
A total of seven people, including some juveniles, were arrested by Kauai police as they came to shore. They were arrested on suspicion of state misdemeanor charges, but could face federal felony charges.
Lingle said today that she was concerned by Monday's protests that led to the arrests.
"I'm disappointed the Superferry is not up and running," said Lingle, a consistent ferry supporter. She wouldn't comment on any future voyages for Hawaii's first car and passenger ferry.
On Maui, Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza could decide tomorrow whether to issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent the Hawaii Superferry from docking at Kahului until it finishes an environmental assessment.
Cardoza issued a temporary restraining order yesterday halting Superferry operations at Kahului Harbor through Sept. 6. The order also required the company to help passengers they brought to Maui get back to Oahu.
Hawaii Superferry President and Chief Executive Officer John Garibaldi said he was optimistic the judge would lift the temporary restraining order at today's hearing. "We expect to resume operations on the 30th," he said. "Should that not happen, we'll be contacting those people to reaccommodate them."
Ron Sturtz, spokesman for the group Maui Tomorrow, which opposes the ferry, said he was pleased with Cardoza's action.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.