Superferry certainly draws a crowd
As my dentist-friend Gil Larson might have said, "I must have struck a nerve there."
Judging by the large number of e-mails I've received (the most ever on one subject), most readers agreed with my recent columns about the Hawaii Superferry, but there was a small minority who was definitely pained by them.
On the plus-side, there were comments like: "Thank you for writing this article," "Great column," "Two thumbs up," and "I always read Water Ways and this one was so right-on I had to let you know. You nailed it. Great job."
However, there were two people who were very strident in expressing their pain and anger, another who claimed the column was not balanced, and still another who thought I had not given the invasive species issue enough consideration.
Regarding balance, I think some readers may not understand that a columnist is, among other things, paid to express his or her opinion, unlike a reporter or journalist who is tasked to present all of the facts and let the readers draw their own conclusions.
The reader who voiced concern over invasive species was Raynor Tsuneyoshi, the head of the California Department of Boating and Waterways who occasionally shares with me his expertise. He felt there had been "a very lackadaisical permitting and environmental review allowed prior to the start of the service."
He went on to describe the problems and expenses his department has experienced with various freshwater aquatic plants and mollusks and advised, "Hawaii would do well to approach waterborne interisland travel as carefully as it does with air travel."
In response, I can only point to the information on the Superferry's Web site at www.hawaiisuperferry.com regarding its proactive invasive species program and note that unlike cruise ships and other large vessels, the ferry doesn't use a water ballast system, a primary source for the introduction of invasive species.
As for the two angry readers, their reaction to my last column seemed to be directed at the Superferry as an object on which they could vent their opposition to much of the unrelenting and unrelated growth on their individual islands.
"We don't need any more cars here on Kauai," one woman wrote. (Even though the ferry will bring and take away the same number of vehicles.) But then she added that visitors were all right, just not with their own cars.
"The difference between Oahu dirtbags coming to Maui on airplanes vs. the Superferry is vehicles!" the other reader exclaimed. "Do you have any doubt that Oahu dirtbags will bring their shabby vehicles over to Maui and live in them?"
OK, so maybe this fellow's point was less about the fear of traffic jams and more about xenophobia.
Still, I can't help wondering how the ferry's demise will maintain the status quo on Maui or Kauai. The only way I've ever seen land preserved was when government or the private sector bought it and put it into an ark or a conservancy.